Uncharted Territory

Defending State Champion North Shore Prepares for no Spring Football

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Originally Appeared on VYPE

HOUSTON – Spring football has become a "right of passage" over the years at North Shore High School as players go head-to-head to prove their worth of making that coveted varsity roster come the fall.

For the first time in his 25 years on campus, Jon Kay is preparing to not have that spring-time event, which for his program plays a vital role.

"[Spring football] is such a huge part of our evaluation process," Kay said. "I've been fooled before by kids in t-shirts and shorts that look awesome. Then when we put the pads on it's a completely different kid. I think you see that at every level."

Currently, the University Interscholastic League has cancelled all activities until May 4, which includes spring football practices, during that time, due to the Coronavirus Outbreak.

North Shore has historically not started until after the regional track meets. But as high school sports continue into this "unchartered territory" the thought of not having spring football at all is turning from a hypothetical into a reality.

"The thing I love about spring football is you're not game-planning, so there's no time wasted to teach specific schemes or anything for an opponent," Kay said. "Everything is fundamentals and the basic pillars of your program. I think you can still do that part early in Fall Camp, but I just don't know if we're going to be able push the kids to the limits we would in the spring."

Even though there is the loss of a maximum of 12 full-contact practices and a total of 18 practices, his team would be missing out on this spring, Kay is looking at it from a different perspective as well – a time to heal.

North Shore enters this spring as the back-to-back defending Class 6A Division I State Champions. In the past two years, the Mustangs have laced it up for 32 football games – 12 playoff bouts and two state title showdowns.

That's a lot of football for 15 to 18-year-old kids.

"I think this is a good opportunity for some of these kids to heal up and get their bodies fresh, especially at our place," Kay said. "I was thinking about Dematrius Davis and Shadrach Banks, who came up as freshmen. Those guys have played 46 games in their career in three years. That's a lot of football. A little bit of down time could be a good thing."


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ROCKETS BEAT THUNDER

Rockets blast Thunder in home opener, 124-91

Rockets take care of business in home opener. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets had an impressive outing versus the Oklahoma City Thunder after an embarrassing loss against the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday night. They took care of business at home on Friday night, which was a surprising blowout. The Rockets didn't have to worry about Karl-Anthony Towns screaming at Alperen Sengun or Anthony Edwards telling Coach Silas to call a timeout. Instead, they took their frustrations out on the Thunder (another younger core).

"We responded and bounced back from that game 1," Silas said. "I wouldn't say it was taking anything out. It was just learning and applying to what you learn and that's going to be us this year. Applying to what you learn and getting better and having some games like we had the other day. Veteran teams have some games when they don't play as well they want."

Christian Wood led the way, as he controlled the paint on all aspects with rebounding and putbacks. He played an incredible game after having a poor performance versus the Timberwolves. Silas showed complete trust in allowing Wood to open sets, as he walked the ball down the court several times, and in transition too. Wood became aggressive on the perimeter with open shooting and tough shots, and long strides towards the rim. He finished the night with 31 points and 13 rebounds off 66 percent shooting from the field.

The young core for the Thunder had a tough night defending Wood from every aspect. Hopefully, he keeps this play up. Silas loved the space that was created throughout the game for Wood, which included the help from Eric Gordon, as he continued to play better. Wood continues to develop underneath the Silas umbrella. He had a great feel for off-the-dribble shooting a few times. Wood becomes more dangerous when space is created on the court.

"It allows me to show what I can do. It allows the floor to be open and I can create for other guys and create for myself," Wood said.

As Gordon continues to impress, his teammate Kevin Porter Jr was amazed with his performance.

Gordon looked marvelous inside and outside of the paint, as it looked like a time ripple. The younger guards of the Thunder had a tough time staying in front of Gordon. His size and strength gave the Thunder a huge problem. Gordon is shooting the ball better too, as he is shooting the three-ball at 70 percent this season. Although it's a small sample size, Gordon is trying to overcome his shooting struggles from last year. Gordon finished with 22 points on 66 percent shooting versus the Thunder.

"EG is the biggest part of this squad," Porter said. He comes in and just scores. We need somebody off the bench to do that. He is our guy when me and J come out, it's EG time and he knows that, and comes in aggressive. So much energy on the bench, and we need that every night from him if we want a chance to win."

As I recently mentioned Porter, his facilitation did look better versus the Thunder than the Timberwolves. Porter had nine turnovers in his first game but managed to have two Friday night. He made great slip passes and found open teammates in the open corner. Porter forced a good number of passes versus the Timberwolves but looked more relaxed Friday night. The hardest position in the NBA is the point guard position, but Silas will not allow Porter to fail. Instead of nine turnovers, Porter dished out nine assists. Silas said:

"Bounce back right, going from nine turnovers to nine assists… I think he had two turnovers tonight, which is great. He is making plays for his teammates, and he was really focused."

Porter's shiftiness and creative ability allowed his teammates to get open looks near the rim. He had 18 points because of his step-back threes and first step going towards the basket. Thankfully, Porter is a great ball handler, which confuses defenders on different spots on the court. It's almost like watching a ballerina skate on ice in the Olympics. Hopefully, his confidence continues to get better throughout the year. Porter shot the three-ball at 50 percent tonight. Efficiency is key for Porter this year.

"I'm just trying to let the game slow down," Porter said. "I had a lot of turnovers last game and I just wanted to piggyback and learn from them and learn from some of my forced passes and reads. And sometimes I still force it a little bit. My guys hate that, and sometimes I'm still passive and I'm working on that. When to pass and score and bounce it out, and tonight I felt like I did a good job of that."

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