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North Shore RB Rashaad Johnson
It’s that time again. Texas high school football is sure to have a climactic finale this Saturday as the UIL State Championship game pits two of the best teams in the country.
North Shore football is familiar with the high-pressure atmosphere of the title game in AT&T Stadium, considering they’ve been there four times out of the last 6 years. Given that fact, the majority of this year's roster has experience in that big arena, including star RB Rashaad Johnson.
Bradley Coller (VYPE)
After winning the State Title last season, Johnson’s talent and will to win has only intensified. This was demonstrated by his three-touchdown performance against the undefeated Westlake (they were on a 54-game winning streak) in the State Semis. North Shore beat the Chaps, 49-34, to advance to the Finals.
“It was just business as usual [the win against Westlake],” said Johnson. “We’re excited that we get to play as a team for one more week. That’s all that really matters. Sure, we’re excited, but we still got a job to do on Saturday.”
North Shore’s final opponent is none other than Duncanville, which has been a recurring postseason matchup over the past six years. The Eastside has gone undefeated against D-Ville at State (2018, 2019 and 2021).
The Mustangs' undefeated campaign to arrive at this rematch can be accredited to several factors, including a top-ranked defense, experienced coaching staff, an explosive run game with Johnson and sophomore D’Andre Hardeman Jr., and the adaptability and leadership of dual-threat WR-turned-QB David Amador II.
North Shore QB David Amador IIBradley Collier (VYPE)
“He [Amador] can do anything,” Johnson said. “He’s very athletic and he’s been unstoppable. You can’t stop that man. That’s a bad man, right there. I appreciate him and I’m really impressed with how he’s stepped up as our QB.”
Speaking of an explosive run game, the importance of having not one, but two top-tier running backs cannot be overstated. With Johnson leading the rush as their power-back and Hardeman’s elusiveness to complement him, the pair has been invaluable.
“It’s a 50-50 effort,” said Johnson. “We [Hardeman and I] help each other out. That’s my ‘dawg’. He’s going to be something serious with the two years he has left, here. We just play our game. On the sidelines, we’ll communicate with each other, see what the defenses do and just correct it from there.”
RB D'Andre Hardeman Jr. scores on a 4th & 1 play against WestlakeStill image from Video captured by Jackson DiPasquale (VYPE)
The four years Johnson has spent at North Shore have brought his game to another level. He is committed to Central Arkansas with other schools showing interest in the durable senior.
“I’m really thankful for this [the opportunity to play for North Shore],” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of talent that has come out of North Shore. Like my bloodline, my Pops and my uncles, all played for North Shore. So, it really means a lot to me. Now that my name is getting out there more, people are recognizing me because I go to North Shore. It’s a big accomplishment.”
Johnson and Company are four-quarters away from winning another State Title. They’re hungry for the chance to go 4-for-6, when they play Duncanville on Saturday, at 7 p.m. in AT&T Stadium.
“It would mean a lot [to win State again],” said Johnson. “I need two rings. I need two more rings (including his graduation ring) before I graduate. I already have one. But, I need one more. That’s all I need.”
Bradley Collier (VYPE)
Jayven Anderson, North Shore
North Shore is dialed in… from the band playing over and over as their opponents prepare to snap the ball to the load management of their athletes.
The attention to detail coach Jon Kay and his staff pride themselves on make the Mustangs “The Brand” in Texas high school football – winning four of the last seven State Titles and seven straight Region III Final appearances.
The ‘Stangs are 13-0 going into their game with Atascocita (11-2), who they beat 16-13 earlier in the regular season for the District 21-6A title.
Despite what their record indicates, the Mustangs have been through some adversity. Starting QB Kaleb Bailey has been out for the season since the CE King game (Week 5) with a knee injury. Enter WR and UTSA commit David Amador who took over the reins of the offense for a while. Evan Jackson has also filled in at QB recently, allowing Amador to return to his WR spot.
“At this time of year, everyone is ground to a nub in Class 6A football,” Coach Jon Kay said. “We are just trying to keep 11 healthy players out there.”
Jackson will likely run the offense against Atascocita.
“He has a tremendous football IQ,” Kay said. “He is one of our best defensive backs and now has moved to the offensive side of the ball. He’s also our punter and is a great return man.”
Whoever plays QB will have a dynamic duo in the backfield.
“Our OC Willie Gaston has done a great job managing our backs Rashaad Johnson and D’Andre Hardeman,” Kay said. “They are critical and he has been load-managing them for weeks. We see a lot of teams who have great backs but after 200 carriers, they aren’t the same player. Our guys are just hitting their stride and have fresh legs.”
Defensively, it’s been a team effort at every level.
“Our defensive line has carried us,” he said. “Cortney Brooks, Nicholas Goins, Jaylon Joseph and Elijah Fields are extremely underrated up front. Javon Coles (LB) has been lights out along with Marlon Germany. The secondary has also played really well creating turnovers.”
All that being said, all eyes will be on Randall Reed Stadium in New Caney this Friday Night at 7 pm, as North Shore lines up against their local nemesis Atascocita.
“It just one of those vicious and highly-respected rivalries,” he said. “We both know what each other brings to the table and at the end of the game… good football has been played. It will be a war that will go down to the final whistle. That’s the football you want to see this time of year.”