Class In Session: North Shore OC Willie Gaston grooming Bailey as freshman QB leads Mustangs to State
HOUSTON – For the past two years, North Shore offensive coordinator Willie Gaston knew what was coming up the pipeline.
Gaston knew since seeing Kaleb Bailey play quarterback for Cunningham Middle School as a seventh grader that he could be a “pretty special” talent.
“He’s just one of those kids that his teammates love him, he’s got natural leadership abilities, so it’s easy to gravitate to him and follow him,” Gaston said. “He’s a great kid, hard worker, a yes sir, no sir type of kid. Those kids are easy to coach.”
Making the jump from eighth-grade football to playing in the Class 6A Division I playoffs is no easy feat though, for anyone and especially a quarterback.
The differences between middle school and high school are tremendous. First, there is no play clock. Second, the speed of the game. Third, you don’t have full grown 18-year-old men blitzing you from the ends all the time.
But Bailey has taken it all in stride.
The 15-year-old freshman signal-caller, who will lead North Shore against Duncanville on Saturday at 3 p.m. inside AT&T Stadium, has shown his growth from being thrown into the fire as the starter against Atascocita in Week 10 for the District 21-6A Championship.
“You could see the growth from the Atascocita game as a district game and then when we played them a couple of weeks later in the round four game,” Gaston said. “Credit to him for just coming here and putting in the work.”
North Shore extends its lead and before this tweet can be sent they extend it again with a pick 6 @LTHSCavFootball - 14@NSNationFB - 35
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Over the season, while coaching the offense, Gaston has had to also mix in grooming Bailey as a quarterback. Through the normal game-week preparation mixing in what he would have experienced during spring practice and quarterback school, which are two things he didn’t go through.
The freshman is “still raw” but is progressing each and every week he gets more reps under center.
“He’s got a strong arm, he’s big, he can run, so the biggest thing with us is cleaning up his footwork and get him where he needs to be,” Gaston said. “He’s getting better every week. He’s a coachable kid, which is what you want and what you like.”
The last time North Shore ran with a freshman quarterback, his name was Dematrius Davis, who is now at Auburn.
With Bailey being a freshman starting in the playoffs, there will be the natural comparison lines drawn between the two but there is one way that Gaston believes they are truly alike at this age.
“Just the way that they are competitors,” he said.