Defenses will take center stage Saturday when North Shore and Lamar square off in the 5A Division I Region III Final.
North Shore enters the game as the known commodity. The 2012 team strongly resembles the Mustangs teams of the past; physical, built on defense and a presence deep in the playoffs.
“Overall their program, their tradition. Just being one of the two or three powerhouses in the Houston area year in and year out,”Lamar head coach Tom Nolen said. “There’s an expectation with their kids, they’re used to playing this late in December. It seems like every year they’re quarterfinals or semifinals or something.”
That reputation cuts both ways according to North Shore head coach David Aymond, who says there are no easy games for the Mustangs because of who they are.
“I think you walk in with a bullseye on your back. I think because your reputation or your tradition precedes you,” Aymond said. “When you have a tradition, people, you see their ‘A’ game. They give you their best. I don’t think they’ve got difficulty motivating their players.”
This year’s Mustangs are stout on defense like you’d expect a North Shore team to be. The Mustangs haven’t allowed more than 10 points in a game during the playoffs.
Lamar’s offense presents problems for North Shore with its spread attack, something that the Mustangs haven’t seen too much of this season.
”They’re a great team. Explosive offense, great defense so it’s a great matchup,” North Shore linebacker Zac Whitley said. “It’s going to be a good challenge because we’ve been so focused on stopping the run, stopping the run, the past couple of weeks and to face a team that’s going to pop off some passes that’s a great challenge because we can also stop the pass, too. Not just stone the run defense, we can do a mixture of both.”
“They do a great job of running the ball and a good job throwing the ball,” Aymond added. “It’s difficult. When a team is one dimensional it’s much easier to defend. When you’re multiple in execution as they are it adds more difficulty.
Defensively, Lamar does as good a job as any team of controlling the line of scrimmage. Led by defensive end Zelt Minor, the Redskins have dominated opposing offenses, Seven Lakes in the bi-district round of the playoffs is the only team so far to score more than 15 points against them.
“They have a lot of great players,” North Shore quarterback Micah Thomas said. “Real physical, real talented, real athletic.”