The Cooldown: Week 16

It is officially state championship week, but this time around is met with a little less fanfare around the Houston area than normal.

Just one area team – North Shore, who has won three of the last four 6A-I state championships – made it to Arlington this year. The last time Houston had just one team representing the area at state predates my memory. That’s not to say, however, that the state championships aren’t awesome regardless.

I highly recommend going if you’ve never been, even if you have no team to root for. That honestly makes it even better because it’s high level football without the stress of rooting for a team. For example, the 2018 6A-II state title game between Longview and Beaumont West Brook (two teams that are in neither of our IHSS coverage areas of DFW and Houston) was one of the best games I’ve ever watched in person. The atmosphere was incredible and so was the game, with Longview winning it 35-34. Highly recommend! If you plan on going or watching the games on Bally Sports, here’s a state title preview for North Shore.

North Shore, Duncanville round four... here we come

What a familiar dance. North Shore meets Duncanville In the 6A-I title game for the fourth time in five seasons. Neither team made the final game of the season in 2020; North Shore has won every previous matchup. But more on that in a minute.

North Shore dismantled what has been a top five program in the nation over the past few seasons. Austin Westlake was on a 54-game winning streak and had won three-straight state titles; two in 6A-II and one in 6A-I. This iteration of the Chaparrals hadn’t yielded more than 20 points this season (a 35-20 win over rival Lake Travis was the most they allowed) before North Shore went off for a 49-34 win.

Rashaad Johnson totaled 134 yards and three scores on the ground. David Amador added 120 yards and a touchdown on the ground while completing 4-of-6 passes for 51 yards. Throw in lengthy touchdowns from D’Andre Hardeman and Evan Jackson, and the Mustangs finished with a blowout of what was believed to be the best team in the state.

Oh, and the Mustangs also settled the debate of who owns the top defense in the state. North Shore limited Westlake to just 64 rushing yards on 25 carries, which bodes well for its state championship matchup against a run-dominant Duncanville squad. Chaparral quarterback Brett Skinner finished with 254 yards and two touchdowns through the air, but also forced an INT and limited Skinner to an inefficient 13-of-34 passing.

So, after the big win over Westlake and with a rain soaked 41-0 win for Duncanville over Prosper, we have North Shore—Duncanville IV.

North Shore won the memorable first matchup in dramatic fashion back in 2018. Sophomore quarterback Dematrius Davis launched a 45-yard Hail Mary that I’m sure we all remember so well, to the back right pylon, finding the hands of senior receiver Ajani Carter for a walk-off North Shore win.

In 2019, Davis led the Mustangs to a comfortable 31-17 win. The rematch was highly anticipated, but felt… neutered, for a lack of a better word. North Shore star receiver Shadrach Banks missed the game due to injury and star Mustang running back Zach Evans was suspended for the game. For Duncanville, star quarterback JaQuinden Jackson’s high school career came to an unfortunate, unceremonious end in the state semifinal the week before with a torn ACL, forcing freshman quarterback Chris Parson into action. With all those missing stars, Davis dominated en route to a second-straight championship.

Duncanville was eliminated by Southlake Carroll in the state semis in 2020 while North Shore fell to Westlake. Round three in 2021 was a completely different type of game than we were used to from these schools, and 2022 might be similar. It was a defensive slugfest, with North Shore squeezing out just enough offense to win 17-10.

I expect the 2022 edition of this game to have more offense, but both teams return menacing defenses and neither team has an offensive superstar. David Amador has long been a do-it-all weapon for North Shore and Duncanville features running back Caden Durham who has had a special year in his own right. But there are no super-duper stars of the ilk of Jackson or Evans in my opinion. The defenses are really good on both sides, so I would expect more than a 17-10 game, but less than the 41-36 thriller we got in 2018, at least in terms of offensive output.

Last season, I predicted Duncanville would win 31-21. I was very wrong on that, on multiple accounts. But I like that prediction for this season, but flip it. And just for the record, I thought 31-21 was a prediction I liked before I looked up what I wrote last season. Hopefully I’m closer to right this time! I’ve got...

North Shore, 31 – Duncanville, 21

Katy falls to Vandegrift

Katy came up just short of playing for state, where the Tigers could have potentially won a state-record-tying 10th championship. Instead, it’s Vandegrift through to Arlington for the first time in its 14-year history.

Seth Davis carried the ball 30 times for 257 yards and two scores, good enough to break the school record for rushing yards in a career at a school full of illustrious rushers. Davis racked up 6,691 yards in his time as a Tiger, which falls 345 yards shy of 25th all-time in the state. Davis could have been a good championship game away from finishing his career as a top 25 rusher in Texas history.

Caleb Koger finished his career with 185 yards through the air, most of which went to senior receiver Micah Koenig, who racked up 173 yards and two touchdowns on just three catches. This senior class will be remembered for a 2020 state championship, and this group appeared in back-to-back state semifinals after that ninth state title win in school history.

The Vandegrift offense was simply unstoppable for much of the night. Quarterback Brayden Buchanan rolled up 453 yards and two touchdowns on 22-of-36 passing. Miles Coleman also tossed two touchdowns on his only two pass attempts, totaling 34 yards. Coleman was the star of the game at receiver, catching seven passes for 184 yards and a score. Beck Ormond racked up 97 yards on three catches.

The carnage through the air was enough to get the job done, a gameplan much the opposite of Katy. The Vipers ran 23 times for just 14 yards, but the passing attack was outstanding, and will give Vandegrift a chance to win its first state title against DeSoto next week.

Katy will have to replace nearly all of its offensive production next season. Koger, Davis and Koenig all graduate. Backup running back (and second-team all-district running back) Dallas Glass graduates, as well as backup quarterback Elijah Bowman. Katy will have to reload at every key offensive position for next season, though the talent pipeline at Katy is next to none. Not to mention, Gary Joseph is still the coach, right? Katy will be back.

Player of the Week

With just one team advancing, and a team that already has a few former POTW’s on the roster, I’m going with a broad, yet overdue, choice.

The North Shore defense is my player-of-the-week. I guess it’s more of a unit-of-the-week, but nevertheless. The Mustang defense has been fantastic all season and the unit as a whole really deserves it!

What's Next?

With just one game left in football season, we’ll do a state championship game recap posted on our website and social media accounts immediately following North Shore’s state title game in lieu of The Cooldown next week. Then after a short holiday break from The Cooldown, we dive straight into basketball season as district play begins!

North Shore vs. Duncanville – Saturday, December 17 at 7 p.m. at AT&T Stadium in Arlington. The game will be aired on Bally Sports Southwest or Bally Sports Southwest Plus.

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