Friday Night Lights, Houston Style
To give you an idea of how cool this 10,300 seat complex is, here are some details:
This brand new facility is unmatched in the state. At a cost of ~ $22 million, it has numerous features. A jumbotron scoreboard with instant replay. A VIP section with individual seating and cup holders. TV. monitors in the concession areas. A double-decker press box that has tons of space for every group to be happy. The scouts have seating capacity of about 30. The coaching boxes can seat up to 16. There are separate rooms for the press, radio, video deck, the dignitary section, and much more. Papasitos is served to all in the box at halftime and a standing buffet line of chips and dips, fruit and vegetable trays are there throughout the game
It was a real community event, with at least nine thousand people attending the Region III-5A Division I bi-district playoff game between the North Shore (HS) Mustangs and the Pearland Oilers. The Mustangs would win easily, although the Oilers made it a game while scoring more against the Mustangs than any other team this season.
The game featured two Mustang players, #8 defensive back Chykie Brown, who is ranked by Rivals.com as the #14th ranked high school football prospect in the state and fifth overall at his position. Brown would intercept a Pearland Michael Speciale pass late in the first half to preserve a 28-0 halftime lead. Brown will play for the University of Texas if, according to a fan in attendance, "his grades measure up". Better hit the books kid.
Rivals.com also ranks tight end Earl Mitchell highly at 83, and he will be playing for Arizona next year. Mitchell, at 6'2" 260 lbs, made some impressive blocks during the game.
But for the most part, I wanted to experience real high school football. The city puts its heart and soul into these games, and it shows.
It was a mixed crowd in terms of age and race, all rooting (at least on the side I was on) for the red and black.
This guy made the game for me. He was intense and very knowledgeable about football. Even with a 28-0 halftime lead, he would not let up. He didn't even have a kid playing in the game.
Shortly after the kickoff, the Mustangs took and early lead: one they would never lose.
North Shore's quarterback Terrance Cain (#12) played the option game well, and at one point ran for a 16-yard touchdown run to keep the Oilers at bay. He would end the day with 115 passing yards, one passing touchdown, and two rushing scores.
But I was impressed with two of North Shore's runners, senior #10 Chris Ganious, who scored two touchdowns and rushed for 187 yards, and sophomore #20 Matthew Tolbert.
Late in the fourth quarter, Tolbert would run through four Oiler defenders to get a "run up the score" touchdown.
The game at that point was a foregone conclusion, but he showed some real moves.
Nothing says high school football like cheerleaders though.
They are all over the North Shore proram, with some, like cheerleader Courtney Daniele Martinez (that might be her on the left, but I'm not sure), taking out ads.
Her family bought a full page ad in the program congratulating her on being an "AWESOME CHEERLEADER" (caps are hers) and noting that Mark 10:27 says that "with GOD all things are possible". It also lets us know that she is a four time high school all-American, six time NCA all-American, a top all-American, NCA & ACA staff app. and a national champion. Martinez is the catch of Houston.
If the cheerleader on the right wearing does not have a date every Saturday night, then there is something wrong with the boys of Houston.
My favorite cheerleader is Ryan Cooper (above), who must have joined the squad to hit on chicks. He'd better stay away from the girl with glasses though...
Staples of Texas life like the unofficial battle of the band competition took place. The Oilers clearly won this one.
North Shore did play to the Veterans' Day crowd with red, white, and blue, but their music was not as strong.
As the third quarter approached, the Pearland Oilers would pray to God that they could somehow find a way to score.
The Mustangs would get psyched to try to stop them.
The Oilers would not be denied. Speciale would take advantage of a Pearland onside kick and lead them down for a score. Sophomore RB Foswhitt Whittaker, the area's leading runner, would be a key part of the drive.
The Oilers would not be able to recover any additional onside kicks, and North Shore would not be stopped.
The offensive line of North Shore pounded Pearland. They really pushed them back in the fourth quarter, eating up clock and making it all but impossible for the Oilers to make a comeback, even with stellar play from Pearland defensive end (#33) Kent Schumacher.
These guys deserve their names mentioned: senior tight end (#88) Earl Mitchell, junior OL (#74) Walter Amaya, Sophomore OL (#59) Joshua Clark, senior OL (#60) Joseph Hancock, junior OL (#50) Rolando Montelongo, senior OL (#55) DeWayne Williams, and senior OL (#52) Philip Stewart. They made guys like Kevin Rutland (#16) and Chris Ganious (#10) look really good.
#33, senior tight end Thomas Greene also made some nice blocks. Offensive linemen do not get the credit they deserve. Not on this blog though!
Later in the game, you can see the absense of white shirts in the field of play. With the fullback taking out the Oilers #28, OLB Joel Mapps, #10 junior RB Chris Ganious had plenty of room to go on the outside for a five yard gain.
You can see the quality blocking on this play as well, with the North Shore runner needing to get past the blitzing LB (#43) Gary Robertson to break into a hole.
It looks like the offensive line has a future. Here's sophomore (#79) Ralston Dews, who is 6', 345 lbs. My God.
The final score was North Shore 52, Pearland 21. North Shore advances to play the #2 team in the state, the Westfield Mustangs.
For now, all that's left is to congratulate the other team and get ready for next week...or next season.