Future Longhorns face off

DALLAS -- This time next year they'll all be teammates for the Longhorns.

Heck, on Jan. 5 they'll all be teammates at the Under Armour All-America Game at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla.

But on Saturday, DeSoto's Curtis Riser and Bryson Echols, and Dallas Skyline's Thomas Johnson and Peter Jinkens will put their burnt orange allegiances to the side in the area round of the Class 5A Division I Region II playoffs. The game is scheduled for a 5 p.m. kickoff at Irving Schools Stadium.

It's the fourth year in a row that these two Dallas-area powerhouses have met each other in the second round of the state playoffs.

For Riser, an offensive tackle, and Echols, a cornerback, they are simply trying to repeat their performance from last season, when they embarrassed Skyline 38-0.

"It was even a shock to me, and I was playing," said Echols, the No. 6 defensive back and No. 79 player overall in 2012.

For Jinkens, a linebacker, and Johnson, a wide receiver, last season's loss is being used as motivation. They are trying to regain the momentum in this budding rivalry that they captured with playoff victories in 2008 (51-26) and 2009 (41-36).

"After the embarrassing loss last year we have a chance at redemption," said Jinkens, the No. 5 outside linebacker and No. 55 player overall. "Our coaches want us to remember that loss from last year and feed off of that. They are red hot about that. That's all they talk about."

There is plenty of friendly trash talking going on between the group, which helps make up Texas' top-rated class in the ESPNU Class Rankings.

"Oh we definitely try and talk," said Riser, the No. 7 offensive guard and No. 150 prospect overall. "I always remind them that we beat them 38-0 last year and gave them that goose egg. They always bring up the two years before when they beat us."

If DeSoto is going to give the Raiders a goose egg for a second straight season, it's probably going to have to do so without Riser. He suffered a left knee injury against Longview on Nov. 4 in what turned out to be the Eagles' lone loss this season.

"I was pass blocking and my defender tried to go around me," Riser said. "When I hooked him he fell into my leg."

He seemed to be jogging fine at practice on Tuesday and said he was going to transition to full pads on Thursday. But DeSoto coach Claude Mathis said the likelihood of his star offensive lineman playing was not very good.

One matchup that should be very entertaining is when Johnson, the No. 4 receiver and No. 35 overall prospect, lines up across from Echols.

"Thomas has been talking stuff all summer about how he wants to go against me," Echols said. "It's all friendly. I have a little chip on my shoulder. It's going to be a good matchup."

Mathis said they weren't going to keep Echols on Johnson throughout the game, and that's in large part because DeSoto has Jalen Mills, an LSU commitment, starting at the other cornerback position.

"We aren't going to give anybody special attention," Mathis said. "We are just going to play our set defense. It's been great all year long. We aren't going to give someone a certain coverage just because of what they have done against other teams. We believe in our defense, I believe in our kids. We are just going to play some DeSoto football."

Something has got to give. DeSoto (10-1) is averaging 47.5 points per game while only giving up 15.3. Skyline (11-0) is averaging 46.2 points per game and giving up just 5.7.

"I'm done with trash talking," Jinkens said. "They can talk all they want to. I'm going to let my play speak for itself. That's what we did last year, we just talked, and you saw what happened to us."

With all the tough talking, it's a good things the quartet will be teammates soon.

William Wilkerson covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation
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