For the fourth time in five years, Duncanville will face Galena Park North Shore in the 6A Division I state championship game.
North Shore (15-0) has won all three previous title game matchups against Duncanville (14-0) and the trio of games all came down to the wire, including a 41-36 win in 2018 on a 45-yard Hail Mary on the final play of the game.
In 2019, it was a one-score game in the fourth quarter before North Shore pulled away for a 31-17 win.
Last year, the game was tied 10-all late in the fourth quarter until North Shore quarterback Kaleb Bailey heaved what turned out to be a game-winning 40-yard touchdown to wide receiver David Amador to nab a 17-10 win.
Bailey and Amador are both back this year for the Mustangs of North Shore, who are riding a 28-game winning streak, having ended Austin Westlake’s 54-game winning streak in the semifinals with a 49-34 win.
Meanwhile, the Panthers of Duncanville steamrolled Prosper 41-0 in the semifinals to reach the title game.
Besides having reached four state championship games in five years in the UIL’s largest classification, the schools have much in common.
Both programs have legendary coaches at the helm. Duncanville’s Reginald Samples has gone 92-17 at Duncanville since taking the job in 2015 and 322-88-1 over his entire storied career that also featured stops at Lincoln and Skyline.
Samples led Lincoln to a state runner-up finish in 2004 and took Skyline to two state semifinals (2011 and 2014). The only thing missing from his resume is a state championship.
“I’ve been beaten enough. I owe them one,” Samples said after his team’s semifinal win.
North Shore head coach Jon Kay has gone a miraculous 117-17 (87% winning percentage) with four state titles since taking over the program in 2014. He has won 14 or more games each of the last five years.
Both teams have dominant run games. Duncanville’s four-star junior running back Caden Durham, who missed last season’s state title matchup, has been one of the best backs in the state this year.
Durham ran for 206 yards and three touchdowns in Duncanville’s semifinal win, his third-straight 200-yard game, to give him 831 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns in the last five games. For the season, Durham has 1,858 yards and 33 touchdowns.
As a team, Duncanville has averaged 304 rushing yards per game in the playoffs after amassing 408 yards on the ground against Prosper.
While Duncanville leans solely on Durham, North Shore’s run game is powered by a three-headed attack.
Senior running back Rashaad Johnson has run for 1,422 yards and 22 touchdowns, sophomore running back D’Andre Hardeman has rushed for 929 yards and 12 touchdowns, and Amador, a three-star senior committed to UTSA, has run for 913 yards and 12 scores.
The teams are also loaded with high-level Division I talent.
Duncanville’s defense is highlighted by Colin Simmons, a 6-foot-3, 225-pound consensus five-star junior defensive lineman, who is rated as the No.1 edge rusher in the nation and the No.1 recruit in Texas, with over 30 scholarship offers.
Four-star junior Ka’Davion Dotson-Walker is rated the 14th-best safety in the country, and Durham is the 18th-ranked running back in America.
Duncanville also has the state’s No.1 recruit in the Class of 2025 in five-star wide receiver Dakorien Moore. Moore has 28 college offers and has 42 catches for a team-high 719 yards and six touchdowns.
Both teams are also protecting perfect records, with North Shore also carrying an undefeated record in state championship games in its program’s history. The Mustangs are 5-0 in state title games, including wins over The Woodlands in 2003 and Austin Westlake in 2015.
North Shore is trying to become the 19th school in UIL’s 11-man football history to win at least six state titles.
A win would give North Shore just its third undefeated season, previously accomplished by the 2003 team (15-0) and the 2018 team (16-0).
Duncanville is trying to finish undefeated for the first time in school history. Its lone state title-winning team in 1998 was 12-3.