North Shore Outslugs Duncanville for Third State Title in Four Years
But after 45-minute-long defensive clinic put on by both teams, Kaleb Bailey and the North Shore offense came up with their biggest play of the night as Bailey connected with David Amador for a 39-yard touchdown that ended up being the decider in a 17-10 North Shore victory.
It was the third time in the last four years that North Shore has defeated Duncanville for the state title.
“It was a slugfest, and we knew that coming in,” North Shore head coach Jon Kay said. “Just proud as hell of our kids for going in there and taking a punch and throwing a punch. To see two working-class communities go in there and put it on display, I couldn’t be more proud of both programs.”
The Mustang defense held Duncanville to just 192 yards on its 54 plays. North Shore linebacker Kent Battle said the physicality showcased by the Mustangs on Saturday was a point of pride for the defense.
“Coach Kay says every day that we’ve got to be the most physical team,” Battle said. “If they’re going to throw a punch, we’re going to throw a punch. That’s how we play North Shore football. Come play hard every day, you’re going to see the outcome.”
And after relying on the ground game for much of the afternoon, Xavier Owens rushed for 72 yards on 19 carries, North Shore Offensive Coordinator Willie Gaston said he and the coaching staff were just waiting for the perfect time to call the deep shot that ended up wining them the state title.
“We were heavy run a lot, so we knew at some point we were going to take a chance to hit a shot,” Gaston said. “It was just a simple shot play. David Amador is one of our top receivers, and Kaleb throws that ball very well, so it was just one of those things where we had that opportunity right there to take that shot.”
Duncanville head coach Reginald Samples said that although his defense played very well, his offense just couldn’t get enough of a foothold in the game to give the Panthers a shot to win.
“We didn’t block well up front,” Samples said. “We didn’t execute well on offense. I thought we played our normal defensive game, but we just didn’t play well on offense. [North Shore] did a great job up front.”
The game had the makings of a slugfest from the very beginning as the teams combined to get one total yard on their first three possessions combined.
But after a big punt return by Evan Jackson for North Shore, the Mustangs struck first as Bailey connected with his brother Jhalyn for a three-yard touchdown.
Unfazed, Duncanville grinded out a methodical, 14-play, 87-yard drive, which Jordan Crook finished off with a one-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation.
The scoring was short lived as four straight punts between the teams followed, leaving the score tied at seven at the break.
At the beginning of the second half, North Shore put together a 12-play, 55-yard drive that was capped of by a 33-yard Carlos Dominguez field goal.
Malachi Medlock then broke free for a 43-yard run that put Duncanville in field goal range and allowed the Panthers to tie the game on a 32-yard Armando Benitez field goal.
Medlock ended up finishing with 114 yards on 22 carries, but Samples wasn’t satisfied with how his team ran the ball on the night as they averaged just 3.4 yards per carry.
“The flow of the game was dictated by both defenses,” Samples said. “It made it difficult because we are primarily a running team, and we had trouble running the ball. There were times we were out of our element because we got behind the chains.”
But after two scoring drives to open the half, the game reverted back to the war of attrition that had defined the first half. Leading up to the fateful North Shore touchdown, the teams combined for just 100 yards over their next six possessions, all of which ended in punts.
Despite falling to North Shore in heartbreaking fashion for the third time in four years, Samples said he was proud of his team and believed they overachieved on the season, finishing with a 13-2 record.
“I’m always proud,” Samples said. “Sometimes we go right to the end and say we didn’t win the championship, but it was a great journey. I looked at some of the media, and they had us picked to lose in the third and fourth round. I’m proud of these guys. This one game does not take anything away from the effort that they made all year long.”
After a 15-1 season, North Shore’s senior class will graduate with three state titles and 60 wins during their time at the school. As a senior, Battle said it was an indescribable feeling to be able to go out on top of the Texas high school football world.
“I’m speechless,” Battle said. “Finishing that. Being here 4 years, I don’t know what to say. It’s just a heavenly moment.”
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