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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)
North Shore's First-Team All- District DE Elijah "The Hulk" Fields
North Shore is on the cusp of returning to the UIL 6A State Championship for the fourth time in the last six years. The team that stands in their path is another state power, Austin Westlake, who they are set to face off against in the State Semifinals at Rice Stadium this Saturday.
The Mustangs’ defense has been relentless throughout the postseason. Most recently, they held the explosive Atascocita to seven points, last Friday, which allowed their offense to seal the victory.
The Mustangs run onto Randall Reed Stadium prior to their Regional Championship victory, against AtascocitaMatthew Ogle (Vype)
One of the heroes on this stacked North Shore roster is DE Elijah “The Hulk” Fields, who has established himself as a force to be reckoned with.
“I got that nickname [“The Hulk”] when I was younger,” said Fields. “I’ve been dominating since Little League and that title has just kind of stuck with me.”
Fields transferred from Spring High to North Shore last year. His performance has only escalated since then, earning first-team, all-district honors, which he attributed to the culture of the football program.
“[Compared to Spring] the culture here [North Shore] has been a nice change,” Fields said. “Everyone wants it more, and there’s more leadership. I’ve seen everybody has just bought in and we’ve become a brotherhood. At North Shore, everything is set and it’s all on the players.”
The majority of current high school football players began their playing careers during their youth when they were inspired to compete through their adolescent years.
Fields is no exception, as his passion for the game was sparked by his uncle -- Ramonce Taylor -- who played running back for the University of Texas from 2004 to 2006 and later played in the Canadian Football League and U.S. Indoor Football League.
“My uncle [inspired me to play football],” said Fields. “He played for Texas, so he knew what it took to play at the next level. He [Taylor] instilled that dedication and competitiveness in me. I need to have that ‘dawg’ in me always.”
With all the accolades “The Hulk” has racked up, he’s obtained offers from several universities to continue playing ball at the collegiate level, including Mary-Hardin Baylor, Midwestern State, Northern Iowa and more.
For now, Fields and the Mustangs have one goal in mind -- add another State Title to the North Shore legacy.
“We just gotta keep going like we have been doing each week,” Fields said. “Day in and day out, we’re focused on the next opponent in front of us. Getting a ring would be crazy, but it’s just this game that we are worried about since we will be facing a team that wants it just as badly as we do.”