NS Mustangs Lose Big One, Again

North Shore 33, Duncanville 49

By Allan Jamail

December 13, 2023 ~ Arlington, Tx. ~ At the AT&T Dallas Cowboy stadium, the North Shore Mustangs lost their second consecutive UIL 6A Division 1 state championship contest to the Duncanville Panthers, 49 – 33.

The era of new Mustangs head coach Willie Gaston was on track to bring home another state championship. He and his assistant coaches can be proud of the 15 – 1 record. Hopefully next season they’ll win it all.

Duncaville’s Head Coach Reginald Samples said after the game that he wasn’t satisfied yet, even though they beat NS back to back in the championship game this year. He said the championship game record between these two teams is 3 – 2 in NS’s favor. He said next year if they meet up, he’s going to even the record to 3 – 3 with a third consecutive win over their playoff rival Mustangs.

This loss was a team effort, the way I saw it, from the coaches down through to the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Everyone in Texas knew long before the game that the Panthers’ most potent offensive player was the five-star rated running back Caden Durham, a senior and LSU commit.

Everyone knew about him except NS, it appeared. Durhan scored three times in the first quarter, running through, around, and over the defense. It appeared as if the 15 – 0 Eastside Boys weren’t prepared for the high stakes game or Durham.

The once impenetrable NS defense was an easy task to run, pass, and score on. The Panthers scored 37 points quickly in the first half, to NS’s 17. By the time the Mustangs woke up to the buzzsaw Duncanville offense, they couldn’t catch up. The game was out of reach. NS’s defense held them to a mere 14 points in the second half, but that’s like closing the barn door after the horse got out.

The Stangs offense sputtered throughout the game, mostly because the Duncanville coaches had their team well prepared, and the team executed as planned. NS had too many turnovers and penalties to mount an effective comeback effort.

One of the bright spots of NS was by kicker Jonathan Soto, a junior, who was perfect, kicking two extra points and two field goals. Both field goals were questioned, given that they were behind so much, and inside the 25 yd line, once with a 4th and 1, and another 4th and 4. Backseat coaching opinions were, “They should have tried for the first downs. Doing so, if successful, could have brought the game within reach.”

Stangs touchdowns were made by D’Andre Hardeman, Christopher Barnes, and Jaylen Bocard.

Total rushing yards: Mustangs 210 – Panthers 250. Passing total yards: Mustangs 239 – Panthers 288. First downs: Mustangs 20 – Panthers 17. Passing attempts and completions: Mustangs QB junior Kaleb Bailey 19 – 26 & 1 interception; Panthers QB junior Keelon Russell 14 – 20 & no interceptions.

Linda Jamail, statistician and photographer