Recognize: Greater Houston

Updated: October 1, 2008, 9:33 PM ET
ESPNRISE.com

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 national-title contender.

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.

Breakout teams

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.