North Shore couldn't capture a national title, but their run to No. 2 may be even more impressive

Photo: Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle

North Shore couldn't capture a national title, but their run to No. 2 may be even more impressive


North Shore couldn't capture a national title, but their run to No. 2 may be even more impressive


Oh so close, but no national title.

North Shore High School (Galena Park, Texas) came extremely close to earning the first public school Super 25 national title in more than half a decade. The Mustangs capped a fairytale 16-0 season with a Hail Mary to win the state title with no time remaining in a thrilling see-saw encounter with new No. 10 Duncanville. The two teams entered the game ranked No. 5 and No. 6, with the North Shore victory vaulting the Mustangs near the national title.

Rankings: Super 25 Football Final Rankings

North Shore’s win capped two very impressive weeks of games played in NFL stadia. First, the Mustangs ran completely roughshod over a very talented Austin Lake Travis team which had been ranked in the Super 25 throughout the first half of the season and had just one loss before their semifinal ouster. Then came the victory against a Duncanville squad that had decisively eliminated Super 25 No. 1 Allen, ending a 30-game winning streak in the process.

So what made the difference between the teams? It was all about the overall strength of schedule. North Shore finished with four very impressive victories — the wins against Lake Travis and Duncanville and not one, but two wins against traditional Texas super power Katy, one of which came in the playoffs.

That was impressive, but it couldn’t quite keep up with Mater Dei’s resume. The defending champions beat traditional national contender Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) 42-0. They edged past fellow top-five program IMG Academy, 28-24. They routed California contender Servite, 35-0, blew out an Orange Lutheran squad led by South Carolina QB commit Ryan Hilinksi, and then went on a remarkable playoff run that included wins against Mission Viejo, Corona Centennial, then No. 1 St. John Bosco and then No. 6 De La Salle.

There were clear drawbacks, yes; the 41-18 blowout loss to St. John Bosco in the regular season was a significant black eye, and the forfeited season-opening victory against Bishop Amat counts for something (even if not much). But balancing the good with the bad, with no fewer than six eye-popping victories, Mater Dei was virtually impossible to top.

That shouldn’t discount what North Shore accomplished, particularly given their remarkably young core. The Mustangs are led by the nation’s top junior running back, five-star prospect Zachary Evans, and a sophomore quarterback Dematrius Davis who already holds scholarship offers from the likes of Baylor and Memphis. There’s more then enough sophomore and junior talent for North Shore to sustain its excellence, though the gauntlet of Texas’ Class 6A may be even tougher next year.

That’s what makes this year’s run all the more remarkable and impressive. It can’t be overstated how impressive those two wins against Katy are. The Tigers were 11-0 outside of their matchups with North Shore, allowing just 109 points in 11 games; North Shore scored 74 points against the Tigers in their two games alone.

To put those wins in perspective, consider this: Katy, which plays in one of the nation’s newest, most lavish high school facilities, lost just nine games in the prior eight seasons. If they have ever lost the same team twice in one season, we couldn’t find proof of it.

Until North Shore.

Will the Mustangs be able to duplicate what they accomplished this year? It’s anyone’s guess. And it certainly doesn’t matter when it comes to what they accomplished this season. Though it didn’t net a national title, 2018 should absolutely go down in history as one of the most remarkable campaigns in North Shore, Houston-area and even Texas history.


More USA TODAY High School Sports