“You are who you are. Every football team has a personality and I think you build defense first. We believe in defense.”
Anyone that’s seen North Shore play football since head coach David Aymond took over nearly two decades ago can see the emphasis that he has placed on the defensive side of the football. As the Mustangs prepare for their 5A Division I Region III final against Lamar, they will count on that same philosophy as they try to advance to the 5A division I state semifinal.
“I believe if you truly want to win you have got to build a defense first,” Aymond said. “That old adage if they can’t score they can’t beat you, that’s true. That’s a little excessive but that’s a working theory.”
That theory has led to immense success for the Mustangs. Playoff trips in 18 straight seasons, a state championship in 2003 and the state semifinals in 2007. It also helped pave the way to victory in last week’s third round game against Elsik.
Leading by four with less than four minutes in the game, North Shore drove deep in Elsik territory where it faced a fourth and goal from the two. Aymond faced the decision whether to go for the touchdown and possibly go up by 10 or kick the field goal to go up seven and trust the defense to stop Elsik and keep the game from going to overtime. The decision was an easy one for Aymond, North Shore kicked the field goal and the defense turned Elsik over on downs, earning North Shore a 17-10 win and a trip to the region finals.
“You feel good about making decisions about taking a field goal instead of a touchdown,” Aymond said. “Working field position instead of just a kickoff. Because you believe in what you hang your hat on and that’s defense.”
“We knew it was going to be a 48-minute game,” junior linebacker Zac Whitley said. “Because if we played 47 minutes then I believe we would have lost that ball game. Elsik, they played a 47-minute game. They’re a good team, don’t get me wrong, they’re a great team. But coaches, they kept getting on us about 48 minutes.”
The 2012 Mustangs team is poised to join the other great North Shore teams with its deep run in the playoffs. This is North Shore’s first trip to the region final since 2007 and the players are enjoying the journey, even if they haven’t yet reached the ultimate destination.
“It’s been great. So far as being with a team that you’ve been with since the eighth grade, seventh grade,” Whitley said. “We’re having fun, we have one goal and that’s to keep getting better every day and to get to that state championship.”