The North Shore Way: Mustangs take fourth-straight District Championship, down Atascocita 31-21

The North Shore Way: Mustangs take fourth-straight District Championship, down Atascocita 31-21 (Copyright (c) 2021 VYPE - All rights reserved)

HOUSTON – As Kent Battle made his way to the sideline after a defensive stop, the senior linebacker lauded his teammates for their play.

That role once held by University of Miami's Corey Flagg is where those lessons of leadership came from.

"He just told me when I'm gone you've got to be a leader when it comes to this defense," Battle said following a 31-21 victory for North Shore over Atascocita on Friday. "So, when it comes to this I know I've got to make plays and then I have to keep my teammates up so they can make plays too."

North Shore (9-1) finished off yet another District Championship on Friday with the win. It's the fourth-straight and the eighth in 10 years for the program.

And going through District 21-6A, which they have won each of the last two years, is no cakewalk with the likes of C.E. King, Atascocita, Beaumont West Brook and Summer Creek in the mix.

"It's such a tough district," North Shore coach Jon Kay said. "I think a game like this speaks volumes about 21-6A and you come out here and it is a heavy-weight fight. Coming off a game against C.E. King and Summer Creek it feels good because I know what brand of football is being played on this side of town. We're just proud to represent it."

What Kay didn't know going into the night is that just before gametime he would have to make the decision to start a freshman quarterback.

Normal starter Wyndell Mitchell suffered an injury in pregame and so instead of pushing it, the coaches decided to role with Kaleb Bailey – the 6-foot, 195-pound freshman.

His first start of his high school career would come in the District 21-6A Championship.

Bailey utilized his size and arm throughout the game, connecting with David Amador II on a 34-yard touchdown and Joseph Richard for a 29-yard score in the win. He also used his legs multiple times to convert first downs for the Mustangs.

"I thought he was great," Kay said of Bailey. "Obviously, he made a lot of mistakes but that's not on him. He's just lacking that experience, but we will never be able to recreate what he experienced tonight. So, this is going to be a huge step in his development. We're excited about his future and ready to get back to work."

Bailey finished 5 of 8 for 83 yards and two scores, while rushing for another 71 on 18 carries. Amador had two catches for 44 yards and the score.

For Atascocita, sophomore Zion Brown finished 16 of 33 for 290 yards and two touchdowns - both to Chase Sowell, who had four grabs for 127 yards and the two scores.

From the offense to defense, it is a mix of youth and experience and mixing and matching pieces, including running four different backs out of the backfield and Jacoby Davis stepping up to cover Atascocita's Chase Sowell in Denver Harris' absence.

"It's a great group, it's a challenging group," Kay said. "I love the way they work together. We are still working through some things. To me, that's exciting. I think our best football's ahead of us."

As North Shore heads into their bye week before facing Deer Park in the Bi-District round of the playoffs in two weeks, Kay knows they have to continue to work on "situational football" but felt his special teams unit "took a big step forward" in the 31-21 victory on Friday over Atascocita.

“We embrace games like this,” Kay said. “Our kids don’t fear failure and anytime you line up with Atascocita you understand that they’ve got the capability to beat you and beat you bad. I love this kind of football. I think it’s a great atmosphere and great for Texas high school football.”