A Defender Special

These are the stories that captured our interests all year long.

It has been an up-and-down year for high school sports in the greater Houston area. We saw phenomenal individual and team performances, prospects for new ground-breaking legislation that could change the face of high school sports, and a scandal or two. The Defender breaks down some of the highs and lows of 2022.

Legislature to address NIL bill for HS athletes

In light of nearby Louisiana passing a bill that permits high school athletes to receive proceeds for uses of their name, image and likeness (NIL), the Texas Legislature has announced a similar NIL bill will be put to the vote on the floor during the 2023 legislative session which begins on Jan. 10.

Tairah Johnson

Marshall hurdler Tiarah Johnson wins back-to-back gold

After breezing through her junior year with a stellar gold medal performance at state, Fort Bend Marshall hurdler Tairah Johnson made it look even easier the second time. Johnson looks to take her winning ways with her as she takes her talents to HBCU track contender North Carolina A&T.

Klein Forest 4×200-meter relay team

Klein Forest 4x200m relay shocks the state

The Klein Forest 4×200-meter relay team of Jacob Compton, Jaden Galloway, Parker Jenkins, Ahmir Robinson, Kylan Stringer and Jelani Watkins had been finishing in second behind Duncanville the entire season until the 2022 state championship race, where they finally upset their rivals from the north.

Nick Ozuna

Bellaire baseball players accused of racism

Players on the Bellaire High School baseball team were accused of making monkey sounds at Black opponents from Westbury High School during a game. HISD reassigned coach Nick Ozuna and assistant Robert Manuel while investigators looked into the incident. The Houston NAACP held a town hall forum on the incident as some community activists and Bellaire parents demanded the firing of Ozuna and assistant coaches.

Lonnie Teagle

Katy Paetow coach scandal leads to resignation

In his first year as head coach of Katy Paetow, head coach Lonnie Teagle resigned amid an investigation into an alleged improper relationship with a student. Teagle was replaced by interim coach David Hicks for the remainder of the season.

Kaleb Bailey

North Shore QB Kaleb Bailey suffers season-ending injury

After quarterback Kaleb Bailey helped lead the North Shore Mustangs to a state title his freshman year, everyone and their mommas believed Bailey would bring home another title this season. Due to an early season-ending knee injury, however, Bailey saw his season cut short for 2022. Can’t wait to see this guy come back in 2023.

Dajohn Palomo

Westfield’s P.J. Hatter and Dajohn Palomo reunite

When P.J. Hatter transferred from Klein Oak to Westfield, many expected great things to happen with the chemistry between Hatter and his childhood teammate, wide receiver Dajohn “DaeDae” Palomo.  But who would have thought the two would connect for nearly 20 touchdowns in 10 games. They also closed out the year just one touchdown away from beating perennial powerhouse Duncanville in the Regional Championship.

Chris Johnson

Former Elkins guard Chris Johnson shines in the national championship

Fort Bend Elkins guard Chris Johnson transferred to play with national contender Montverde Academy in Florida for his senior season and since has shined brighter than ever.  In the Geico High School National Championships, Johnson was the cover boy leading all-scorers and taking home the MVP honors for the tournament.

Galena Park North Shore Mustangs

North Shore returns to State

Even with starting quarterback Kaleb Bailey going down in the fourth game of the regular season, the Galena Park North Shore Mustangs still managed to go undefeated up until the State Championship game against Duncanville.  The Mustangs’ efforts were led by senior wide receiver and converted backup quarterback David Amador and senior running back Rashaad Johnson. 

Kashmere wrestler Samyra Thomas 4-time state qualifier

Wrestler and basketballer Samyra Thomas qualified for the state tournament every year she was in high school. Thomas has already made a name for herself on the college level at Jarvis Christian University with a top 20 nationally individual ranking as a freshman in her weight class.