Saturday in Fort Worth, the DeSoto Tarantulas (18-1) squeaked out a one-point win, 13-12, over the Lubbock Liberty Eagles (11-2) in the opening round game of the Lone Star Minor League Football News Tournament of Champions.
“Lubbock was a solid team,” Tarantulas defensive coordinator Cedric Smith told Developmental Football USA. “They really came out with more fight than a lot of people give them credit for. Going into the game, we watched film on them and we knew they had a lot of talent on that team, so we didn’t take them lightly. We knew they weren’t a team to take lightly, it was a hard-fought game and exactly what we signed up for.
“We had to overcome a lot of adversity, just like we had to do in a lot of other games. We had to pull together. We have the motto, ‘Next Man Up’ and ‘Fight for the man next to you.’ That was our motto all season and we were able to hold true to that.”
Lubbock accepted the bid to play in this game that was offered to them for winning the Rio Grande Football League Championship earlier this spring and DeSoto earned a bid themselves by upsetting the North Texas Mustangs to win the Texas United Football League.
“I wouldn’t necessarily compare the Eagles to any other team that we played, mainly because their scheme is totally different,” Smith said. “They have weapons at their disposal that they use in different ways than any other team we have played. They’re a very good team and it’s called the Tournament of Champions for a reason. They’re deserving of their championship and I can clearly see how they got it.”
Both of DeSoto’s touchdowns came through the air behind the arm of quarterback Vernon Sharp. One was a 40-yard strike where Shannon Whitfield took the top off of the Eagles’ defense and the other came in the red zone.
“We had some players step up big time and make some big plays for us,” Smith said. “At wide receiver, we had Quincy Scott that caught a bomb downfield early in the first half that kind of set the tone for the rest of the game. We had some big plays on defense as well, where Julius Miller made a few key tackles and sacks and Larrie Moore was anchoring our defense, along with our defensive line.”
With the win, the Tarantulas advance to the finals to play the Victoria Hurricanes (14-0) – who won the Crossroads Amateur Football League Championship this spring – for the Lone Star Minor League Football News Texas State Championship
“It’s just one step closer to our goal,” Smith said. “We came into this whole season with the intention of being champions and we’re looking forward to having an opportunity to compete for a national championship.”
In just the last few days, the Tarantulas were invited to participate in a USA Bowl National Championship Game in Florida – more information still to come. Right now, their focus is finishing out play in the Lone Star State against Victoria next weekend.
“We’re going to go out there and play our brand of football,” Smith said. “The Victoria Hurricanes, they have a solid, solid offense. As many people know, our entire game is based upon our defense and has been. What we plan on doing is keeping the same formula we’ve been having all season. We’ll put two Gladiators in the Colosseum and see who comes out on top.
“I just want to wish the Hurricanes the best of luck and we’ll see them soon.”