Duncanville (13-1) vs. Galena Park North Shore (15-0), 3 p.m. Saturday at Arlington’s AT&T Stadium
For the fifth time in the past six years we get Duncanville and North Shore for the Class 6A-Division I title. Much like the last three meetings, expect a physical and low scoring game between two teams who have among the best defenses in all of Texas.
Duncanville has been an absolute wagon since its late season loss to DeSoto as the Panthers have won their last six games by an average of 38.5 points. In their 52-10 rout of previously unbeaten North Crowley, LSU RB commit Caden Durham ran for 226 yards and five touchdowns, while the Panthers defense locked down one of the state’s most dynamic offensive attacks holding North Crowley to just 290 yards of offense, much of that in the second half.
North Shore went into Austin and after a hard-fought defensive game played in a stiff 30 mph wind, the Mustangs escaped with a 23-14 win over previously unbeaten Austin Westlake; it was their second straight win over the Chaparrals in the semifinals.
The Mustangs needed their defense to step up in the win as the offense, which has been so dynamic during the year struggled mightily. A year ago North Shore fell in a heartbreaker to Duncanville and they didn’t have the services of QB Kaleb Baile., He’s available this week and he’s got a dynamic group of skill players, but North Shore on the offensive and defensive lines doesn’t appear to be as strong as they’ve been and that has shown in their inconsistent play during the playoffs.
Duncanville’s defense has been a force all year and Durham in the fourth quarter breaks a big run or two to break the spirit of a tough North Shore squad.
Stepp’s Pick: Duncanville by 9
PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR Dakorien Moore - Duncanville’s a ground-and-pound team by heart under Reggie Samples, but five-star LSU-commit Dakorien Moore and SMU-commit Keelon Russell provide a new element to catch teams off balance with.
RB Caden Durham - Duncanville will rely on its senior 1,600-yard rusher for the majority of the game. But things have been more open for Duncanville’s run game this season with Russell’s development as a quarterback.
DLs Colin Simmons and Alex January - Summer Creek’s primary offense runs through D’Andre Hardeman so the Panthers’ dominant duo of Simmons and January will be responsible for shutting down the interior and then frustrating Kaleb Bailey in the pocket.
Galena Park North Shore
QB Kaleb Bailey - Bailey missed this game a year ago with injury but dazzled as a freshman in 2021. He’s completed a staggering 73.9 percent of his passes for 2,851 yards through the air and 33 touchdowns. He’s also rushed for 605 yards and 14 touchdowns and, oh yeah, he hasn’t thrown a pick.
D’Andre Hardeman Jr. - Hardeman faces his toughest test of the season a week after seeing one of the top defenses in the state in Westlake. His 1,549 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns will be key if North Shore wants to be multi-faceted on offense.
DB Devin Sanchez - Last season we saw Duncanville’s passing attack get uncorked in this game. North Shore can match the star power of Dakorien Moore with their own five-star talent in Devin Sanchez. Expect those two to be matched up but also Sanchez to be moved around to help around the secondary in other areas.
Duncanville DL vs. North Shore OL - Duncanville boasts a pair of Texas commits along their front four in five-star defensive end Collin Simmons and defensive tackle Alex January. The Panthers have surrendered over 30 points just one time all year. North Shore quarterback Kaleb Bailey has a plethora of offensive weapons such as wide receivers Christopher Barnes and Terrence Guillory, but he’ll need his line to give him enough time to find them. Look for the 6-foot-3-inch, 305-pound Jakoby Isom to take on the brunt of Duncanville’s force.
Duncanville pass game vs. North Shore secondary - Duncanville quarterback Keelon Russell has been one of the area’s fastest rising prospects in 2023. The SMU commit has thrown for over 3,000 yards with an outstanding 34-to-3 TD:INT ratio. LSU commit Dakorien Moore is by far his favorite target, racking up 1,369 yards and 16 touchdowns. This Duncanville passing attack hasn’t faced a playmaker in the secondary like five-star junior Devin Sanchez. Sanchez is a big body corner at 6-foot-2-inches who can physically match up with anybody Duncanville throws at him.
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