Damieon George continues to improve. To George, his teammates and coaches, that means as a player and as a person.
North Shore’s 6-foot-6, 320-pound junior offensive tackle is the anchor of arguably the most physically-imposing offensive line in the state. The Mustangs’ front five of right tackle George, right guard Fausto Castellon, center Luke Chavonne, left guard James Taylor and left tackle Damarcus Thomas averages 302 pounds.
But it’s the progress and maturity of George, North Shore’s most prominent prospect along the offensive line, that has impressed. George holds 22 collegiate offers, including Alabama, Georgia, Ohio State, Oklahoma and LSU, among others.
He was again at the forefront of another big playoff win for North Shore on Saturday, when the 14-0 Mustangs conquered Cy-Fair 38-21 in the Class 6A, Division I regional final to book a trip to the state semifinals Saturday against Lake Travis.
Against Cy-Fair, North Shore’s offense averaged 9.9 yards per play. Sophomore quarterback Dematrius Davis had all day to throw, averaging 12.1 yards per pass attempt and 15.7 per completion. The Mustangs’ run game averaged 8.4 yards per rush and scored seven touchdowns on 33 attempts.
All of this was accomplished against one of the finest defensive teams in the state.
“They’re awfully big and athletic,” Cy-Fair coach Ed Pustejovsky said of North Shore’s offensive line. “That No. 74 (George) is huge. It’s hard to get any pressure.”
And it wasn’t a one-time thing. It’s the norm.
In the regional semifinals two weeks ago against state power Katy, North Shore averaged 11.6 yards per play. In 40 pass attempts during the last two playoff games, Davis has been sacked just twice.
North Shore coach Jon Kay said the offensive line has been the No. 1 reason for the undefeated Mustangs’ success.
“When we play together, it shows love,” George said. “We have that as an O-line. We know when we’re there for each other, we win.”
Coming from the east Houston suburb Galena Park, where North Shore resides, opportunities are limited for student-athletes.
Based on FBI crime data, Galena Park has a crime rate higher than 57 percent of cities and towns in Texas, though crime has subsided since 2016. Issues can stem from broken homes or the traps of surrounding people and situations, or all the above.
Success stories for the natives are few and far between.
That’s why stories like George’s are so inspiring. He embodies the growth of a North Shore student-athlete, physically, emotionally and mentally.
“He’s always been a good guy … I just feel like he hasn’t had that much of an opportunity, given his circumstances,” junior running back Zach Evans said. “The positions we’re put in, we’re not able to do as much as we can … but he’s excelling.”
When Evans’ thoughts were relayed to him and he was asked where he thought he could improve, George was adamant.
“My attitude,” George said. “On and off the field. I appreciate that from Zach. I think I just continue to improve. I continue to get better.”
Battling life away from the field, Kay said, is an obstacle for all of his players.
“We live in a community where they’re facing adversity every single day,” Kay said. “Unfortunately, when you start looking at the state (playoff) brackets, you don’t see a lot of these kinds of communities making it to where these kids have made it. It’s a huge testament to their character.”
On the field, George said he is more physical this season.
“My feet are better. I finish more blocks,” he said.
George spent a lot of time during the offseason lifting weights and working on his technique. As a result, his run-blocking and pass-blocking have improved considerably.
“His flexibility is the biggest thing,” Kay said. “He’s got such a big frame that it’s hard sometimes for a kid like that to bend, but he’s worked hard to become more flexible, and that allows him to be better in open space.”
For his perseverance and work ethic, George has become a favorite of coaches and teammates. On the field, he has emerged as one of the finest linemen in the state.
He talks about getting better as a person as much as a player. By all accounts, he’s on the right path.
“Damieon is way better,” Davis said. “It started in the spring. He's moving quicker. He's stronger. He's smarter. It seems like everything's just really coming together for him.”