It’s exceedingly rare that a Texas power program like Katy, a near-miss for the Super 25 National Title in 2015 (just like North Shore in 2018), is overmatched in talent when it walks on the field. It was on Thursday.
Just look at the sheer numbers. North Shore (Houston, Texas), which entered the season at No. 2 in the Super 25 rankings, has players committed to Alabama, Texas A&M and Arkansas, not to mention a 5-star running back considered by all recruiting services to be the nation’s best running back, and a four-star quarterback. And that’s just on offense. It’s not a stretch to say that North Shore may have more raw talent than any program outside of private schools in Southern California and Florida. It’s enough to overwhelm most programs before they even walk on the field.
And yet, Katy was thoroughly unbowed. Why? Because the program has been there before.
“But North Shore has been there before, too! After all, they just won the state title!”
That’s true! But it also underscores the difference between talent and heritage. This North Shore team has been there before, last year. Katy is there every year. In 2018, the Tigers lost a grand total of two games … both to the eventual state champion. The season was deemed a disappointment by some, because that’s how high Katy’s expectations are.
Yes, North Shore knocked off Katy in both meetings in 2018, ruining the Tigers dreams of another national top-10 season and then taking away their playoff plans. Yes, that North Shore roster — which went on to earn Texas’ most prestigious crown and finish the season ranked No. 2 in the Super 25 — was virtually the same as the one that took the field Thursday night.
It doesn’t matter. Behind Texas Sports Hall of Famer Gary Joseph, one of Texas’ longest-tenured (and highest paid) head coaches, Katy remained resolute, even as North Shore surged to an expected 21-7 lead at halftime. Facing the threat of losing touch with the game, Katy came out in the third quarter on a mission, scoring behind the dominant ground game of new out-of-state road grader running back Ron “The” Hoff, and then getting the ball back on a fumble recovery.
It didn’t even matter that Katy continually left points on the board when it reached the red zone. The Tigers were getting there. They were positive and upbeat. If they did it once, they could do it again, and next time they’d score.
Eventually, they were right.
And when the game was on the line, it was Katy, not defending champ North Shore, that delivered. The Tigers finally pushed through a touchdown with fewer than four minutes remaining. North Shore got the ball back with plenty of time, but went backwards. In fact, on the Mustangs’ one big gainer on that final series, a penalty pulled the ball back and all but sealed their fate, setting them up for a second-and-30 and, eventually, a mediocre punt and meek defensive capitulation on an unexpected third down pass play on Katy’s subsequent game-clinching possession.
The player responsible for that decisive penalty? Offensive lineman Damieon George, North Shore’s Alabama commit. See? Sometimes a longstanding culture does trump all the talent in the world.