Inside High School Sports Houston | Under The Microscope: Week 17
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08/04/20

Under The Microscope: Week 17

I’ve been looking forward to previewing District 21-6A ever since we started our district previews back in late April, and the time is finally here.

This district features some of the best squads in the state. It was good last year, but it’s even better now that Atascocita joins the group. The district features an unrivaled group of three at the top that includes the Eagles, along with 2018 state championship participants in North Shore and Beaumont West Brook.

Behind those three will be a fight for the final playoff spot between a few good teams, all with ample returning starters including Humble, Summer Creek and C.E. King. With so many great teams and great players in this district, lets put 21-6A under the microscope.

North Shore

What’s there to say that you the reader probably don’t already know?

The North Shore Mustangs are the two-time defending 6A Division I State Champions and will look to make it three this fall. The Mustangs return one of my favorite duos in the entire state with Dematrius Davis at quarterback and Shadrach Banks at wide receiver.

The talented duo lit up the state en route to a state title as sophomores before repeating last season. Banks missed most of 2019 due to an injury, and I’m excited to see what he and Davis can do now that Banks is healthy and ready for another title run. Sound the alarm now folks, the most dangerous duo in Houston is back.

Of course, the team is more than just those two. While the Mustangs are set at the offensive skill positions, they’ll need to replace talent on the offensive line and all across the defense. Fortunately, they’ll have experienced leaders for both units in Jaeden Roberts, an Auburn commit just like his teammate Davis, on the offensive line, and Denver Harris on defense. Both are drawing major college interest and will help out the young guys who fill the holes.

With Davis and Banks leading the way, I expect North Shore to compete for another state championship. In such a talented state, that kind of goal is far from guaranteed, but there’s no reason North Shore shouldn’t be the early favorites. A third-straight title would give Davis and his fellow three-year starters an impeccable legacy and would put Davis’ name right next to one of the best to ever do it in our great state, but more on that later.

Atascocita

If anyone is going to beat North Shore in this district, my pick is Atascocita.

The Eagles matched up with North Shore in round four – the state quarterfinals – of the playoffs last year, and lost 76-49 – but there’s at least a little good news about that! The 49 points scored by Atascocita in that game was the most let up by North Shore all season, and it really isn’t even close. The next-most scored by a NSSHS opponent was 38 by Lake Travis the following week.

I believe Atascocita has at least a small window of opportunity, but it won’t be easy. The Eagles will have to replace quarterback Brice Matthews which won’t be easy, but they return a good amount of talent in other places.

The returning offensive talent includes on of the best tight ends in the state in Landon King, yet another Auburn commit. King will pair with wide receiver Keith Wheeler to form what is one of the better receiving corps in the area as Wheeler has plenty of Division I interest himself.

Tyras Winfield and Quincy Thompson combined for more than 1,000 yards at running back last season, but the offensive line will need to fill plenty of holes. Good thing Kam Dewberry returns on the line as one of the most sought-after lineman in his class.

The defense is similar in the fact that it will need to replace starters but does return some solid talent from last season. Jack Halm and Niko Campbell will lead that group as the Eagles try to keep pace with the class of the state just down the road.

If not for North Shore, I’d say Atascocita is one of the top threats from Houston to make a state championship appearance, but the I think the Mustangs reign supreme. Nevertheless, put Atascocita down for a second-place district finish and yet another deep playoff run.

Beaumont West Brook

West Brook being the third-best squad in this district tells you all you need to know about how good it is.

The Bruins are a perennially strong team, and they made a state championship appearance in 2018, ultimately losing to Longview 35-34 in one of the more exciting state championships in recent memory. In my opinion, that game gets overshadowed by Dematrius Davis’ Hail Mary that won North Shore a state title just a few hours later, but that’s another story for another time.

West Brook had to replace a ton of talent on last year’s team and battled injuries to star players. They ultimately wound up losing to Strake Jesuit in round two, but I think the Bruins will be better this year.

They'll be led by LSU commit Bryce Thompson (who will play safety in college) at quarterback. Thompson will have to adjust to the position, but he’ll have plenty of weapons to help aid that move. JaMichael Foxall and Jordan Guidry are as good of a one-two punch as you’ll find at running back, and the Bruins have two good – albeit young – options at wide receiver in Andre Dennis and Ja’Von Sorrell.

The defense will be strongest in the secondary, led by Caleb David – but just two returning starters on that side of the ball means new faces will need to step up.

Because West Brook will be in Division II, I think they’ll have a shot to make a deep playoff run. Remember, Katy Taylor made it to the state semifinals last season after finishing fourth in Katy ISD. Division II is weaker, and another run to state could be in the cards for the Bruins – but they’ll need guys to adjust on the fly.

Humble

There is a slew of teams I think could challenge for the fourth and final playoff spot, but I think Humble snags it.

The Wildcats will benefit from playing Jeremiah Price-Knott at quarterback a little bit last season. Price-Knott wasn’t the starter, but he got a little experience that should prove to be valuable as he adjusts to the role of QB1.

He’ll be joined by a set of twins in the backfield in Syn’Savior Sydney and X’Zavier Sydney. In addition to that, Robert Williams is one of the fastest-rising wide receivers in the area in terms of college interest, and will be a force for Humble this season.

While the offense is loaded with returning talent, the defense will have some holes to fill. They’ll be led by lineman Jordan Hall, who will have to help the new guys adjust – especially playing in a district loaded with prolific offenses.

Summer Creek

I have Summer Creek as my first team out, but the difference between the Bulldogs, Humble and C.E. King is slim – the order of those three could be changed by just one game.

Just like every other team I’ve discussed, Summer Creek returns an embarrassment of riches on offense, and it starts with the quarterback. Bryan Bush is back for his third season leading the Bulldogs offense and he’ll have plenty of weapons.

Elijah Bean is a solid receiver who is getting a good amount of college interest, and for good reason. The dynamic receiver caught more than 30 passes last season and was Summer Creek’s most reliable receiver. The Bulldogs return a solid running back as well, as Torrie Curry accounted for 14 touchdowns. They’ll be protected by one of the best offensive lineman in the country in Kelvin Banks.

On the flip side, the defense returns just three starters. Koby Sebasyen-King was arguably Summer Creek’s best defender last season, and he’s back to lead what will be a young unit. Ultimately, defense might wind up being optional in this district with the litany of great offenses, so it’s good that Summer Creek returns offensive talent to keep pace.

Look for showdowns with C.E. King and Humble to decide who gets that final playoff spot.

C.E. King

Guess what! C.E. King – like every other team in 21-6A – returns loads of offensive talent!

Kameron Kincheon is back to lead the offense from his quarterback spot, while he’ll be joined by his backfield-mate Jerrel Wimbley, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season. Cody Russi returns at wide receiver, and King also returns what should be a solid offensive line.

What C.E. King has that Humble and Summer Creek don’t is returning experience on defense. King returns plenty of starters, led by Will Evans on the line. They could grab the final playoff spot by keeping up with everyone else on offense while playing better defense – but that remains to be seen.

Once again I’ll emphasize this – the final playoff spot in 21-6A should come down to who can go 2-0 against each other between King, Humble and Summer Creek – unless one of them can shock North Shore, Atascocita or West Brook.

Kingwood

Rounding out the district is Kingwood, who would definitely have a shot at the playoffs if they were playing in virtually any other district.

The Mustangs do return more starters than any other team in the district, and new coach Cale Melton will have to figure out how the pieces fit together. Melton comes from a championship pedigree as the former defensive coordinator at 5A Dallas Highland Park, and I think he’ll help Kingwood get back into the playoffs eventually, but not this season.

A run-heavy attack was led by Kasey Duplechin and Nick Bernell last season as the two combined for more than 1,000 yards; both are back. So too is all-district wide receiver Jack Dugas, who will help ease the quarterback transition for presumed starter J.P. Mendoza.

The defense returns a good mount of starters as well, and that unit is led by one of the most versatile defenders in the area. Grant Mize usually plays on the line, but can play just about anywhere he’s needed on the front seven.

I don’t see a playoff appearance in the cards for Kingwood this season, but it might not be long before Melton has them competing at that level.

Team and Player to Watch

I want to give a quick shout-out here to Beaumont West Brook for my team-to-watch.

I’m not picking West Brook because Beaumont falls just outside our coverage area and I want to keep it to the Houston area and teams that we do cover. However, West Brook is a vital part of this district and deserves to be mentioned.

The Bruins have a solid shot at a state championship run being in 6A Division II, and I’m excited to see if that can climb that mountain again. That normally would’ve made them my team-to-watch, but alas…

My team-to-watch is the Humble Wildcats. This is because I think they’ll take the final playoff spot in 21-6A, but they’ll need to fend off a few other teams.

Watch out for games between Humble, Summer Creek and C.E. King. If any of those three can go 2-0 against the others, I think that answers the question of who takes the final playoff spot. Personally, I think Humble gets it done, but it won’t be easy. That’s why the Wildcats are my team-to-watch.

I usually don’t go with the obvious choice for player-to-watch, but I simply couldn’t resist here.

I’ve been around Texas High School football my entire life. I’ve had the pleasure of watching more great players than I can count. Dematrius Davis will go down as one of my favorites I’ve ever witnessed.

I think if he’s able to lead North Shore to a third-straight state title – becoming just the second team ever to do so at the state’s highest classification – I think his name would go right next to Kyler Murray in this state. Oh yeah, the other team to win three-straight state titles in Texas’ highest classification? Murray’s Allen Eagles from 2012-14.

Even at the 6A level, Davis feels unstoppable. He’s an elite passer AND an elite runner. If the coverage is there downfield, oftentimes Davis will take off for 10 or 20 or 80 yards and a touchdown.

Davis isn’t just my player-to-watch for 21-6A, he’s my player-to-watch for the entire state. I can’t wait to see the Davis-Banks duo wreck havoc on Texas once again, and I think those two lead North Shore to history. When we talk about great dynasties in this state that are particularly defined by a three or four-year stretch of dominance defined by a few players (or by a singular player,) Davis’ Mustangs will be right there behind Murray’s ’12-14 Eagles.

Enjoy it while you can folks. We’ve got one more season before Davis is off to Auburn. I highly recommend trying to see him play in person before he’s three states away.