HOUSTON - It'll be 10 years this fall since the last time Texas and Texas A&M would have faced each other on the field.
The rivalry is still alive and well as the chatter comes up every single season on when the two power programs of the Lone Star State would play again.
But the fact of the matter is they have still been facing off each and every year - just not on an actual football field.
In the never-ending battle of recruiting, Texas A&M, after another pair of successful National Signing Days, can chalk up another win over the Longhorns and new head coach Steve Sarkisian, especially in Houston.
Overall, Texas signed 13 of the Top 100 players from Texas, while Texas A&M brought in 14. Out of that number, only three - Derrick Harris Jr. (New Caney), Terrence Cooks (Shadow Creek) and Hayden Conner (Katy Taylor) - came from the Greater Houston area.
For the Aggies?
Jimbo Fisher and staff swooped into Houston and inked nine of the Top 100 players, with five of those being ranked in the Top 20 in Texas by 247 Sports.
"I believe that they are having so much success because players can go to Texas A&M, play in the SEC, stay in Texas and play in a system proven to have success in the NFL," Foster coach Shaun McDowell said. "And they just do a really great job of creating relationships and being visible with recruits."
Among the Top 20 players in Texas, the Aggies signed seven, which was the most by any single university. The next closest amount was four, which National Champion Alabama and perennial College Football Playoff selection Oklahoma tied for.
Texas only had one.
In that group of seven included No. 7 Tunmise Adeleye (frm. Tompkins), No. 8 LJ Johnson (Cy-Fair), No. 12 Bryce Foster (Katy Taylor), No. 15 Reuben Fatheree II (Foster) and No. 18 Shadrach Banks (North Shore).
"I think the proximity of A&M to Houston has always been an asset in their recruiting. In the eyes of some recruits, their move to the SEC separated them from the other Power 5 schools in Texas," North Shore coach Jon Kay said. "They have some coaches with strong ties in Houston. Coaches like Bradley Dale Peveto (who no longer works at A&M) and Darrell Dickey (dad and brother were both HC's in the Houston area) have always been mainstays in the Houston area.
"I think the success they had this year will only help the pipeline from Houston."'
247 Sports Recruiting Class Rankings (Class of 2021)
No. 7 - Texas A&M
No. 17 - Texas
No. 44 - Baylor
No. 53 - SMU
No. 61 - TCU
No. 64 - Texas Tech
No. 81 - Houston
Nol 93 - Rice
That is the other factor that is fueling this 12th Man surge - the Aggies went 9-1 overall this past season and finished on the verge of playing in the College Football Playoff in 2020. The Aggies' biggest win of the year came over then-No. 4 Florida (41-38) at home and their only loss came to eventual National Champion Alabama (52-24).
In the end, after an Orange Bowl victory over then-No. 13 North Carolina, Texas A&M finished No. 4 in the final poll and should be in the Top 5 in the country to start the 2021 season.
"I think they have done a great job of being aggressive in recruiting Houston players," Fort Bend Marshall coach James Marshall, whose former player Devon Achane was named the MVP of the Orange Bowl, said.
"The players see where that program is going and they want to be apart of it."
Overall, nine Houston area players did just that.
Along with those five previously mentioned, No. 60 Remington Strickland (Fort Bend Christian Academy), No. 63 Matthew Wykoff (Magnolia), No. 66 Albert Regis (La Porte) and No. 100 Fernando Garza (Katy) also signed with the Aggies.
"They are all over the place," Marshall said. "It's all about relationships with kids and high coaches and they are doing that very well."
The Class of 2021 has gone very well for the Aggies - being ranked No. 7 nationally (Texas coming in at No. 17) - and they have already started turning the page to 2022.
Texas A&M already has four hard commits - including Bridgeland quarterback and pitcher Conner Weigman - for the next class and take a wild guess where they are from.
HOUSTON – When North Shore looks nearly flawless on gameday it's not by mistake.
And it is not easy.
"These kids lift five days a week and they are constantly in the weight room," North Shore coach Jon Kay said. "Then they will transition into the meeting room, on the board or video. Then to the field focusing on individual drills, ones vs twos and then special teams block and all the way through. There is so much that goes into it.
"Hopefully our kids are doing the things to make it look easy on gameday but we are always striving to make Monday through Friday more difficult than Saturday."
That method has worked to perfection.
North Shore is in the State Semifinals for a third consecutive season – the last two winning the Class 6A Division I State Championship over Duncanville. But this year, due to COVID-19, has made this journey much different than years' past.
"This year has been a year like none other in more ways than just football," Kay said. "I don't know if a lot of the things in the past have compared to what has had to be done this year.
"As far as the road to get here I think every year is different."
What is different is this is the final year for Dematrius Davis and Shadrach Banks.
The two have become the faces of North Shore football since they were freshmen. Davis and Banks became one of the toughest duos to defend in the state as sophomores. As juniors, Davis unveiled his stellar running ability, while Banks missed the majority of the season with an injury.
Now, as seniors, the duo is once again putting up big numbers and showing that senior leadership throughout the process.
"I think they both came into this year comfortable in their roles as leaders and embracing what that role meant," Kay said. "I think that's paid huge dividends to the success of this team."
Through their leadership and especially their work ethic, Kay says other players – such as a Ta'von Griffin, Caleb Flagg, Jacoby Davis, Josh Garrett and Darius Clark – have had great examples to follow as they have developed through the year.
"This is Texas, everybody has great players but it is those great high school players that make the difference that are at home watching or out here playing," Kay said. "Those kids have been a huge part of that."
They will play a pivotal role as North Shore faces Austin Westlake, the reigning 6A Division II State Champions, in the Class 6A Division I State Semifinals this weekend.
Led by Cade Klubnik at quarterback, who has passed for 3,099 yards and 32 touchdowns, the Chaps enter this game a perfect 12-0.
"It's an incredibly well-coached, incredibly athletic football team," Kay said about Westlake. "They've absolutely dominated everybody that they've played this year. There's no mystery to their success, those kids are coming to work every day.
"They are winning games in ridiculous fashion and just so impressive to watch them on video. We got everything we want this week. It's going to be a clash of the titans and we're looking forward to it."
Defensively for the Chaps, Nick Morris and Hayden Bray lead the charge upfront as the duo has combined for 24 sacks. Morris is also second on the team in tackles with 75, only two back of Brady Lamme's 77 tackles.
The last time these two programs met this late in the playoffs came in 2015 – in the 6A Division I State Championship game.
North Shore won that 21-14 in overtime inside NRG Stadium for what was then the program's second-ever state title.
"These kids weren't around in 2015 the last time we faced Westlake," Kay said. "So, this is new to them, but they definitely know who Austin Westlake is."
Standing awaiting the winner of North Shore-Austin Westlake on the other side will be either Southlake Carroll or Duncanville.
"When you play 6A Division I football you know every week you're going to come up against it," Kay said. "We know how strong this Region III has been over the last few years you have to learn to embrace the challenge of playing great programs."
When it comes to this time of year, which North Shore has gotten used to playing during – not usually in January though – Kay said the biggest key to success is handling the moment.
"Our kids have done a really good job of doing that in the past," he said. "We're going to see what kind of maturity this group has because you're going to have to take a punch in the face when you play this team.
"I think these thoughts of going in there and blowing somebody out by 50 are pie in the sky fantasy. You're going to have to go in there earn it, trade punches and I think the team that handles the ups and downs that come with a game of this magnitude has the best chances of winning."