2019 Preview: De Smet Spartans
Five years of football purgatory for the proud Jesuit school ended in 2018 with a young and highly talented Spartans team going 8-3 led by their young head coach, Robert Steeples. Now that the rebirth has happened, like the fathers of the first atomic bomb, De Smet is waiting for something tremendous to explode. With D1 talent and seasoned players seemingly in every corner of the roster, the Spartans have all the ingredients to climb all the way up the mountain in the Metro Catholic Conference and the Missouri Class 6 playoffs.
Darez Snider (127 carries, 986 yards, 11 TDs)
Rico Barfield (77 carries, 436 yards, 4 TDs)
Taj Butts (97 carries, 729 yards, 13 TDs)
Jordan Johnson (28 catches, 721 yards, 9 TDs)
Ra’Shod Harvey-Smith (50 catches, 670 yards, 6 TDs)
Mekhi Wingo (52 tackles, 4 sacks)
Armon Wallace (38 tackles, 2 sacks)
Brody Wisecarver (6-4, 317 lbs)
Hutson Lillibridge (6-3, 303 lbs)
Lanell Carr (50 tackles, 5 sacks, 1 INT)
Lavon Jones (58 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT)
Carter Edwards (36 tackles, 6 sacks, 2 INT)
Jakailin Johnson (27 tackles, 2 INT)
Kaleb Purdy (39 tackles)
On paper, this is the most athletic team you’ll find in Missouri. De Smet will unquestionably have the deepest and most productive running back depth chart in the state with the trio of Barfield, Butts, and Snider. The two killer B’s have multiple D1 offers while Snider is undoubtedly on his way to garnering some as well. They’ll have quite an impressive offensive line to open gaps for them with juniors Wisecarver and Lillibridge, who are also receiving D1 attention. You’ll have to pick your poison with the Spartans because they’re just as loaded at wide receiver. Jordan Johnson is the No. 1 ranked wideout in Missouri and on his way to Notre Dame after the season. Harvey-Smith is just as impactful as Johnson, and that also includes senior Hunter Suntrup. The Spartans have gotten a couple of key transfers in the offseason most notably, A.J. Fraser who recently committed to Cornell. The 6-foot-5 QB will likely take over the keys to this offense. The defense is just as stacked with talent. Mekhi Wingo and Armon Wallace are next-level defensive tackles, who will play D1 ball. Lanell Carr is committed to West Virginia and can play both linebacker and D-end. Carter Edwards moves to linebacker after a fine sophomore season, and Lavon Jones rounds out a solid front seven. Jakailin Johnson is one of the best athletes in the 2021 class and is by far the highest-rated cornerback in St. Louis. He’s joined again by Purdy and incoming transfer from Westminster, Denver Parker.
Diagnosis: I imagine this is a team who won’t think for a second about outside opinions, but they know what they want. This is the most loaded team in Missouri on paper hands down, but the Spartans have a lot to prove since they haven’t won much since 2012. This machine is a well oiled, fancy car that hasn’t driven many miles, and there’s plenty of bumpy roads in St. Louis. However, De Smet will be favored to win every game, except one: CBC week four. That’s a game so crucial that ESPN of all people will broadcast it for the world to see. This is the year of years for the Spartans to do big things and to do that they’ll have to shoot for the king. The MCC won’t be easy either as everybody will be a bit more competitive than usual overall, but if De Smet plays near their potential, then they’ll be fine. Without a doubt, this is a team that will be extremely fun to watch and follow all season long.