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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Houston loses first game to Oakland

A's end losing streak against Astros with late homers

Lance McCullers Jr. went five innings of one-run ball Friday night. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

After maintaining their stronghold against the A's in Thursday's home opener, the Astros had the chance to lock up the three-game series victory against Oakland with a win on Friday night. On the mound, Lance McCullers Jr. hoped to improve upon his first start against this same team, a five-inning one-run outing.

Instead, he would have the same outcome, once again lasting five innings while allowing one run, before a big tie-breaking home run late in the game would push Oakland out of their losing skid against the Astros.

Final Score: A's 6, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 6-2, tied for first in AL West

Winning Pitcher: Yusmeiro Petit (2-0)

Losing Pitcher: Bryan Abreu (1-1)

McCullers Jr. makes it through five

McCullers Jr. looked sharp through the first three innings, allowing just two baserunners, one on a second-inning single, then a walk in the third. Oakland did better against him the second time through their order in the fourth, with Jed Lowrie leading the inning off with a solo home run to put Oakland in front 1-0.

They went on to load the bases with one out on an error and two walks, but McCullers would strand them all. He returned for the fifth, a much cleaner inning where a caught stealing by Martin Maldonado would help him face just three batters. His final line: 5.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 88 P.

Oakland gets homer-happy to even the series

McCullers Jr. would leave the game without being eligible for the winning or losing decision, as an RBI-groundout by Kyle Tucker in the fourth would have it tied 1-1. Bryan Abreu was the first out of Houston's bullpen, and he would attempt to eat up multiple innings. He had perfect innings in the sixth and seventh, retiring six A's in order to maintain the stalemate.

Abreu remained in the game in the top of the eighth, allowing a single before getting a strikeout, ending his run as Dusty Baker would bring in left-handed Blake Taylor. Taylor would give up a single against his first batter, then a loud go-ahead three-run home run to Matt Olson to push the A's back in front 4-1. They'd add two more insurance runs off of Joe Smith in the top of the ninth, getting a two-run home run by Mark Canha to extend the lead to 6-1.

Oakland's bullpen would hold on to the newly created lead, allowing just one run on a sac fly by Jose Altuve in the bottom of the ninth, finally ending their losing streak against Houston and setting up the rubber game on Saturday to be for the series victory.

Up Next: This series's finale will be a Saturday afternoon start, with first pitch scheduled for 3:05 PM. For the Astros, Jose Urquidy (0-0, 4.15 ERA) will look to get a win on the board, while Oakland will hand the ball to Frankie Montas (0-1, 23.63 ERA).

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