ESPN RISE takes a look at the teams to watch this month in the greater Houston area:
Football -- North Shore
Be disciplined. Be physical. Those two simple rules have
guided North Shore football for the past 14 years according to
head coach David Aymond. Considering the Mustangs won a
state title in 2003 and entered the 2008 season with a 70-game
regular season winning streak, it's clear Aymond's concepts
have worked. "Those two areas are always a work in progress,"
Aymond says. "You can't perfect them, but you've always got
something to work toward." And when you successfully instill
those concepts into some of Greater Houston's most talented
football players, you've got a recipe for success. That's especially
true this year, as North Shore brought back 12 starters from
a team that went 14-1 last year and reached the Class 5A,
Division I semifinals. It all starts on the line for the Mustangs,
where senior tight end Barrett Matthews and junior offensive
lineman Trey Hopkins relentlessly battle in the trenches.
Matthews can also make some plays in the passing game, as
he racked up 300 receiving yards and eight TDs last season.
Senior quarterback Alex Tillman will try to get Matthews even
more involved this season, though Tillman also has the luxury
of handing the ball off to the talented running back tandem of
Tracy Woods and DeAundre Jones. Defensively, seniors Thad
Randle, Jestin White and Terrance Kindle anchor the line while
linebacker Daniel Salinas and defensive backs Andrae May and
Eric Ruben also play key roles.
Girls' Swimming -- St. Agnes
The Tigers reclaimed their place as the state's top TAPPS swimming program last year by edging Ursuline Academy for
the top spot at the Class 6A meet. It was sweet revenge for St. Agnes, which had placed second at state to Ursuline the
previous two years. The Tigers bring back much of the talent that helped them to the title last season, including senior
freestyle specialist Kristina Kontrimas, who won three golds at state. Other top returnees include junior Meredith Gosda,
junior Stephanie Lawrence, sophomore Van-Ahn Hoang and senior Katie Rose.
Boys' Cross Country -- Seven Lakes
Dominating at the Class 4A level proved to be no sweat for the Spartans, so they're taking on a new challenge this
year. Seven Lakes, which moved up to Class 5A during UIL realignment, ran away with last season's Class 4A state title
by 43 points thanks to a trio of runners who all finished in the top 15 individually. That group -- senior ESPN RISE All-
Area picks Jimmy Welin, Chase Rathke and C.J. Jessett -- returns intact this fall as a Class 5A state title favorite and a
Girls' Volleyball -- Clear Creek
The Wildcats made a statement that they are a Class 5A state championship contender by reaching the semifinals of
the 76-team Pearland Nike Classic over Labor Day weekend. Clear Creek's finish was the best of any Greater Houston
team at a tourney considered one of the nation's most difficult. Senior Haley Jacobs was named the tournament's Most
Outstanding Libero, while senior outside hitter Megan Pendergast and senior setter Becky Bekelja each earned a spot
on the All-Tournament team.
GIRLS' CROSS COUNTRY -- KLEIN
Sophomore Hillary Montgomery is one of the state's elite young stars.
WRESTLING -- CLEAR LAKE
Senior Cailin Tutt is one of three state qualifiers returning for the Falcons.
GIRLS'VOLLEYBALL -- CY WOODS
The Wildcats won 30 matches in their inaugural season last fall and are out to top that in 2008.
BOYS' SWIMMING -- MAYDE CREEK
The Rams bring back senior freestyle specialists Tim Jones and Randal Smith.