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Keys to victory: How Skyline can beat DeSoto

DALLAS SKYLINE (11-0) vs. DeSOTO (10-1)

5 p.m. Saturday at Irving Schools Stadium

What: Class 5A Division I Region II area playoff

Here’s what the Skyline Raiders must do to get past the Eagles:

Establish the run game: Simply put, Skyline likes to beat you on the ground. The Raiders will run early and often. They average 207 yards per game on the ground and have five players who have rushed for 100-plus yards on the season, led by David Green with 1,007 yards and 14 touchdowns. With Devante Kincade at quarterback, Skyline can run read options with the halfback and wide receivers on jet sweeps, or Kincade, who ran for 475 yards and 10 touchdowns, can keep the ball. Starting linebacker and Texas commit Peter Jinkens will line up at running back in Skyline’s jumbo set in short-yardage situations.

Utlilize play-action: Kincade made huge strides this offseason trying to become more comfortable in the pocket. Earlier in the year, he said that by the end of the 2010 season, his first as a starter, the game was beginning to slow down for him and he was less likely to just tuck the ball and run if his first read wasn’t open. That has translated into a 2,565-yard, 32-touchdown season with only three interceptions. Skyline averages 241.6 yards per game through the air. So why is the rushing game the key to victory? It’s all about the Raiders' ability to draw the safeties in with play-action. After pounding away at the opponent’s defensive front with the run game, deep vertical routes open up as safeties and cornerbacks creep in to defend the rush. Skyline loves to go for the home-run pass, and why wouldn’t they with receivers like Texas commit Thomas Johnson and Rashaad Samples?

Hold the line: None of the above would be possible without the outstanding work of Skyline’s offensive line, which was the weakest link when Skyline lost to DeSoto in the area round in 2010. Kincade was only able to complete 4-of-12 passes for 28 yards lost 18 yards on sacks. With a new offesive line coach this year, Skyline changed up its blocking schemes and brought new life to the unit.

Dominate on defense: No team from the state of Texas has scored more than 14 points on Skyline’s defense this season. Only Cocoa, out of Florida, scored more, putting up 20 points at the Kirk Herbstreit Classic on Labor Day. Through 11 games, Skyline has pitched five shutouts. Only Cocoa and Arlington Bowie (with 14 points) have put up more than eight points against the Raiders all season.

Something to prove: Skyline has bulletin board material it can use as motivation this weekend. The Raiders can avenge the 38-0 beating they took from DeSoto to end their season in 2010. They can also prove that the hype that surrounds them is not just a product of playing in a weak District 9-5A and that they can take down one of the state’s best in DeSoto.