The DeSoto Tarantulas came into the 2017 season on a mission and on Saturday night, they did what many thought was impossible and knocked off the defending Texas United Football League Champion North Texas Mustangs, 29-24, and took home the league trophy.
“First off, the atmosphere at the game was awesome,” Tarantulas head coach Giorgio Bostice told Developmental Football USA. “The fans were loud and both teams came out ready. It was a really cool thing.”
The Tarantulas punched their ticket to the TUFL Championship Game with a 35-14 win over the Marshall Arch Angels, while the Mustangs ended the Central Texas Apaches nine-game winning streak with a 38-16 win in the other semifinal game to secure a match-up between what many around the state believed were the best two teams in the league.
“Winning the championship overall was a great thing,” Bostice said. “I’m happy it shook out overall that we were playing the top team in our league, rankings wise. As much as I wanted to play the Apaches again, I didn’t want to be playing a team that was quote, unquote lower than us, rankings wise.”
The win bumped the Tarantulas season record to 17-1 (13-1 in TUFL) – their only loss being a mid-season hiccup against the Apaches.
Hold on to your seats, though, because it looks like the Tarantulas historic 2017 run isn’t over just yet.
“First, we’ve got to figure out where we’re going to be nationally, if we’re going to get a bid,” Bostice said. “If we get a bid, we’re definitely going to take it. Whether it’s in Vegas, Miami, New Orleans, wherever it is, we’re going to take it. “Hopefully us going 13-1 and winning the TUFL means something.”
A national game isn’t the only chance at catching DeSoto in action once more while this year’s same special group of athletes is still together as one.
“We’re definitely interested in taking on an MPFL Champion or TUFA Champion, DTFA champion, it really doesn’t matter,” Bostice said.
Although the Tarantulas finished with a 10-2 record last season, a loss in the semifinals left a bad taste in their mouth, so they spent the off-season re-weaving their web and finished the course this year. With one trophy now in hand, DeSoto is already thinking about their next one.
“We’re already focused on next year,” Bostice said. “That’s pretty much it. Outside of a bowl game, we’ll probably be kicking off OTAs and looking towards next season sometime in September. We’re looking to continue to build what we’re doing here. As far as what league we’ll be in, we’re not exactly sure yet. We know the MPFL and TUFL will still be around. We want to go against the best competition possible, so whatever league gives us the best competition.”
The Mustangs tried to trample the Tarantulas early and started the game with an onside kick in hopes of catching them off guard, but DeSoto was fortunate enough to recover and the gesture became a fly stuck in their web, unable to escape the impending doom.
“I think it was ballsy to start out a game with an onside kick, but that shows you how they felt about us,” Bostice said.
The Tarantulas offense came out ready to rock and roll and DeSoto quickly jumped out to a 20-6 halftime lead.
Following the break, the extended the lead to 29-6 before North Texas began to fight back and make it a game again as Mustang running backs Ontario Shaw and Eddie Kilgore each got loose on the Tarantulas defense.
The Mustangs closed the lead 29-12 with 1:09 left in the third quarter then added another touchdown moments later to make it a 29-18 ball game. Late in the fourth, they scored yet another touchdown to close DeSoto’s lead to five, 29-24 with 4:23 left.
DeSoto’s defense stood tall and held on to secure the win.
“I’d like to say Larrie Moore was definitely our defensive MVP,” Bostice said. “He was flying around everywhere and controlled our defense. If it wasn’t for our defense, we wouldn’t have ever been at this point.”
Cameron White was named game MVP with four catches for 111 yards and two big touchdowns for the Tarantulas.
“Outside of Cam, our whole offense really had a solid game, especially in the first half,” Bostice said. “It didn’t show on the scoreboard, but our run game was clicking. In the second half, we got a lot of holding penalties and did things to shoot ourselves in the foot, but our offense was clicking overall.
“The atmosphere was awesome and it was definitely the best game we had all year and the best opponent we faced all year.”