De Smet Jesuit High School had a successful 2019 campaign by any measure, finishing the season with a 14-0 record, coupled with being ranked the No. 1 team in Missouri. Most of their opponents struggled mightily to remain competitive during each contest, winning 11 of their 14 games by a 28+ point margin. The Chaminade Red Devils came the closest of any team to topping the Spartans as they were the only team to keep the score within single digits by the end of the contest in early October. Chaminade trailed the whole game, making a strong fourth-quarter comeback only to fall a single point short.
The Spartans have solidified themselves as a major high school football program in the Show-Me State over the past decade. This Saint Louis area school has been recognized as one of the state’s top 25 teams in 2010 (22), 2011 (24), 2012 (16), 2018 (9), 2019 (1). Their most recent season was their most impressive, becoming a nationally ranked team in 2019 (19) and beating Joplin for the D6 State Championship.
De Smet has bounced back substantially in the past few seasons. In 2017, the team owned a lackluster 1-9 record and saw a 183 point scoring differential by the season’s end. Rather than feeling sorry for themselves, the Spartans got right back to work to turn their program around. Mission accomplished.
In the two seasons since the one they would most like to forget, the Spartans have maintained a 23-3 record, outsourcing their opponents by a combined 730 points.
The Spartans have shown time and time again that they have the structure and talent that is needed to thrive at this level. Look for them to come out of the gate hungry and looking to repeat last season’s success
De Smet has several high profile prospects on their roster, allowing them to average 44.4 points per contest while scoring over 50 points in four games. At the head of the team’s offense is the University of Missouri commit Taj Butts, a 1st Team All-State Offense and All-District #1 2019 honoree in Class 6. The 5-11, 205-pound running back rushed for a team-high 1,279 yards, while scoring 18 touchdowns.
His success on the ground was made possible by the degree of talent on the offensive line. Hutson Lillibridge (6’4 295) and Brody Wisecarver (6’5 300) provides the offense with ample time and creates holes within the defense that has allowed for the team’s high point production on a consistent basis. Both players were Metro Catholic Conference First-Team selections and are highly sought after by several powerhouse collegiate programs. Wisecarver has already committed to the University of Illinois, and Lillibridge could be joining him as he has collected an offer from the same school in addition to 16 others including Georgetown, Indiana, and Central Michigan.
Another top recruit in the state of Missouri is tailback Rico Barfield (6’0 215). The Saint Louis native was a 2nd Team All-State Offense honoree and All-District #1 for Class 6 in 2019 for his contributions on the field. Barfield rushed for 1,148 yards and scored 18 touchdowns last season. He has drawn offers from 9 different schools: Ball State, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri State, Purdue, South Dakota, Toledo, Utah State, and Washington State.
In addition, the Spartans have Tight End Mac Markway (6’4 250). He is one of the best tight ends in the 2023 recruiting class. He already has an offer from Alabama, Michigan, LSU, Auburn, and about 20 other Power 5 schools.
Running Back Darez Snyder (5’8 180), Wide Receiver Ra’Shod Harvey Smith (5’8 160), and Wide Receiver Allen Mitchell are 3 more Division 1 prospects to help the offensive attack. Snyder rushed for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns. Smith caught 40 passes for 524 yards and scored 9 touchdowns. Mitchell has racked up a couple Division 1 offers.
The quality defense of the Spartans cannot be overlooked. The team held their opponent to single-digit scoring totals in 9 of their 14 games, four of which were shutouts.
The top three returning starters on defense are Jakailin Johnson (6’0 175) Carter Edwards (6’1 225), and Mekhi Wingo (6’1 285). Johnson is ranked as the No. 1 prospect in the state, and rightly so. The cornerback recorded 42 tackles and seven interceptions last season, earning a Class 6 All-State First Team selection by the Missouri Football Coaches Association and becoming a Metro Catholic Conference First-Team honoree. His efforts on the field have allowed him to net and accept a scholarship offer from Ohio State, one of the nation’s top teams year after year.
Edwards was an All-District #1 selection for Class 6 and named to the Saint Louis All-Metro Offense Second-Team. He made a team-high 126 tackles, 11 of which were for a loss, in addition to four sacks and two interceptions. His contributions are a major reason why the Spartans were able to experience the success that they did in the playoffs, and was honored accordingly, being named a Metro Catholic Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year. He has most recently drawn offers from Southeast Missouri State, Southern Mississippi, and South Alabama, all of which came on May 20, 2020.
Wingo was an impact player on the defensive line. The University of Missouri commit was also 1st Team All-State Defense (Class 6), recording 97 tackles and 15 sacks in De Smet’s 2019 undefeated season. He was named the Class 6 Defensive Player of the Year by the Missouri Football Coaches Association and the Metro Catholic Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Year.
The depth in the secondary is loaded for the Spartans. Jordan Calvin (5’11 190), Denver Parker (5’11 180), Kaleb Purdy (5’10 170), and Khalid Stewart (5’11 170) are more elite prospects.
Dakota Doyle-Robinson (6’1 265), Donovan Whitfield (5’11 230), and TJ Woodley (5’9 200) are 3 more key defensive players returning for the Spartans.
De Smet is hands down a top football team in the state of Missouri and in the country. Coming off their most successful season of the decade, the Spartans will look to build on their momentum with the wealth of talented returning players they will have on their roster. Expect the Spartans to be back in the playoffs next season, possibly even better than ever before.