The Cooldown: Week 20

Cover Photo courtesy of The Houston Chronicle

All good things have to come to an end, it just didn’t happen how many thought it would for North Shore. The Mustangs fell to Austin Westlake over the weekend, leaving Katy and Crosby as the lone Houston area representatives for this years’ state championships. Check out recaps of week 19 action and our state championship preview.

North Shore falls to Westlake

Man… what an amazing three years it has been for the North Shore Mustangs. The senior class will forever be remembered making an impact as sophomores, winning one of the most improbable state titles ever on an unforgettable Dematrius Davis Hail Mary.

The Mustangs repeated as state champs in 2019 by winning every single playoff game by double digits, including a 17-point victory in a state rematch against Duncanville. North Shore started off 2020 with a 17-point win against Shadow Creek and a 7-point win against Klein Collins before winning 12 straight games by at least 25 points. Westlake presented a different challenge.

The Chaparrals came into the state semifinals with just 51 points allowed over 12 games and had won every game by at least 34 points. Of course, Westlake hadn’t faced the same level of competition North Shore had in the regular season but it still made for an even matchup.

Westlake went up 10-0 early before Dematrius Davis found David Amador for a 55-yard touchdown. Westlake answered to take a 17-7 lead to halftime before a North Shore second half rally. First, it was Davis on a 50-yard touchdown run late in the third before a Xavier Owens score with four minutes left in the game to give North Shore its first lead at 21-17.

Cade Klubnik had all the answers for the Chaps. He found Michael Taaffe on a deep ball and pushed Westlake – who needed a touchdown to take the lead – inside the North Shore five. The Mustangs defense held stout and Westlake was faced with a 4th-and-goal from the one with a stop liking winning the game, but Klubnik ran in a short touchdown.

A penalty and a sack left North Shore facing a 4th-and-19 on its final drive. Davis found Shadrach Banks for a big gain, but it came up inches short to give Westlake the win.

The loss caps a three year run led by Davis and Banks in which North Shore compiled a record of 45-2 and won two state titles. It’s not often we get to witness a three year run as dominant as North Shore just had… congratulations to the Mustangs on another incredible season.

Katy ropes Buda Hays to roll into state

The last time Katy lost its district was 2008 and the Tigers went on to win state that year. Fast forward 12 years and we could easily see history repeat itself this weekend.

There isn’t really a whole lot to recap in Katy’s win. The Tigers took down Hays 63-7; for comparison they beat Morton Ranch – who missed the playoffs – by the same margin. Katy needed only 73 total passing yards to get the job done as the Davis brothers put Hays in the rearview mirror on just 23 combined carries. Sophomore Seth Davis went for 169 yards and three scores on 14 carries while senior Jalen ran nine times for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Katy vs Cedar Hill – 1 pm Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

The real prize in Katy getting to state is that it will face a familiar foe in Cedar Hill. The Tigers played Cedar Hill for a state title in three consecutive years – 2012-14 – winning just one of those. Katy will have a chance to even the score with the Longhorns this weekend. Katy won round one in 2012 before Cedar Hill picked up a 34-24 win in 2013 and a 23-20 win in 2014.

Cedar Hill has been well tested in getting to state. The Longhorns beat Tomball Memorial 38-21 in round three before a 27-24 overtime thriller against Rockwall-Heath and a 27-17 win against Denton Guyer in a game that was a little closer than the final score indicates.

Katy is just the opposite. The Tigers’ smallest margin of victory in the playoffs was a 49-24 win against Shadow Creek. While Cedar Hill has struggled the last few weeks against great competition, Katy has rolled against lesser competition.

The X-Factor for Cedar Hill is quarterback Kaidon Salter, a Tennessee commit who has been fantastic all year long. He’ll be countered by the Davis brothers for Katy in a matchup of good offenses. Both teams have had excellent seasons and Katy comes into this one as a small favorite but I think it could go either way. I’ll take Katy by three points.

Crosby wins Game of the Year over Liberty Hill

If you like offense, Crosby – Liberty Hill was for you.

Crosby won the overtime thriller 62-61 despite being out-gained by Liberty Hill 693-420. The Panthers averaged 10 yards-per-play and ran for 545 yards out of their slot-t offense but the Crosby defense made enough red zone stops to keep the game close throughout.

The senior duo of Deniquez Dunn and Reggie Branch was fantastic once again. Dunn threw for 211 yards and three touchdowns against one interception on 19-for-30 passing and added 65 yards and a score on the ground. Branch ran for 121 yards and four scores on 17 carries and also had a touchdown and 82 yards receiving.

Branch ran in a touchdown to give Crosby a 7-point lead in the first portion of overtime before Liberty Hill swiftly answered. However, the Panthers decided to go for two and end the game there, and fumbled just before reaching the end zone. Crosby recovered the fumble and won the game in an instant classic.

Crosby vs. Aledo – 1 pm Friday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas

The Cougars will face one of the most well-known programs in the state in Aledo, who beat Fort Bend Marshall in the last two 5A-II state championships. Aledo is led by Alabama signee JoJo Earle at wide receiver and Demarco Roberts at running back. Crosby has some explosive playmakers as well in Dunn and Branch.

Aledo is a big favorite in this game as it is in most state championship games but I think Crosby has the athletes to match and will keep it closer than most think. I have Aledo by 10.

What a season...

This is it folks. I just want to give big congratulations to the thousands of communities across Texas that made this season happen. Some states aren’t playing any high school sports this fall. This has been a massive undertaking by the UIL, coaches, players, fans and more across every community in the state to complete a healthy season with little to no hiccups.

Next week I’ll recap Katy and Crosby’s state games and I’ll use a section to comment on the season as a whole as well. I’ll give out some superlatives for teams and players and make some fun out of it, then it’s on to basketball season!