Texas high school football returned on Thursday night, and it did so with a bang.
North Shore High School (Houston, Texas), the No. 2-ranked team in the USA TODAY Super 25, struggled against an aggressive Katy defense and had to stiffen in the red zone against a bulldozing Tigers offense led by a previously unknown running back. It wasn’t enough. Here’s what we learned from one of the eye-opening games of the early season:
1) Where were the plays for Chosen 25 running back Zach Evans?
North Shore’s Zach Evans entered the season as the nation’s top-ranked running back. He’s the top overall high school football prospect in ESPN’s rankings and No. 2 in our Chosen 25. And yet, he hardly saw the football in the critical second half. Evans had just one touch in the third quarter, couldn’t find ways to get open in the running or passing game, and watched helplessly as Katy’s pressure badgered junior four-star quarterback Dematrius Davis. All of which begs the question: What were they doing offensively? What kind of a game plan looks to pass on first and second down when your team has the best running back in the country? It’s a question that surely will haunt North Shore … and all but certainly costs the Mustangs any chance at a Super 25 national title.
2) “The Hoff” is the truth
Everyone came and tuned in on national TV (ESPNU) to see Evans, but the man who took over the game was Ron Hoff. Who? Exactly. A previously unknown running back in Texas circles — he transferred in from South Carolina power Dutch Fork — Hoff was nearly unstoppable in the first half and then wore down an increasingly exhausted North Shore defense in the second half, finishing with 219 yards of total offense and nearly 6 yards per carry. As ESPN chronicled almost endlessly, Hoff entered the game with just one scholarship offer … from The Citadel, an FCS program. Something tells us he’ll have more soon.
3) The Katy defense is legit
North Shore’s offense has Alabama and Texas A&M commits, the nation’s top-ranked running back and one of the top-ranked quarterbacks in the Class of 2021. They all struggled against a fierce Tigers defense in the second half as Katy overturned a 21-7 halftime deficit. When Katy sealed the win with a bold 53-yard pass to star wide receiver Jordan Patrick on a third down near midfield and the clock winding down, it was the Katy unit on the sideline that truly deserved MVP praise.
4) One was enough
Despite an impressive offensive ground attack throughout the game, Katy struggled to score points in the red zone, entering the fourth quarter 0-for-5. No matter. The Tigers came through with the game-winning touchdown when it mattered most on a clutch pass to Sam Dunn, getting revenge for the Tigers’ two losses in 2018 and upending the top of the national Super 25 rankings in the process.