HOUSTON -- Defense is one of the biggest reasons Houston Lamar is playing for a state championship.
The unit is talented and aggressive, with the ability to not only shut an opponent down but put up points. The key to that defense? According to cornerback and 2013 SMU pledge Cedric Lancaster, it's defensive end Zelt Minor.
"Really, Zelt is the key," Lancaster said. "He does real well with the defensive line. He takes a lot of pressure off the defensive backs and linebackers."
Minor was recognized for his stellar season, being selected as one of 10 finalists for the Houston Touchdown Club's Defensive Player of the Year award. He didn't win the honor -- it went to UCLA defensive end commit Deon Hollins Jr. (Missouri City, Texas/Thurgood Marshall) but his play has spoken for itself.
He has probably been the biggest impact player for the Redskins in their run to the Texas Class 5A Division I state championship game, where they'll meet Allen (Texas) High School on Saturday night. It's the first time in 20 years that a Houston ISD team has played for a 5A state championship.
"It was an honor because my coaches were telling me that Lamar hasn't had a player be in that in a long time," Minor said. "I was surprised that I didn't win it because I'm still in the playoffs and having a good playoff run."
Minor, who is also committed to SMU, has used that as motivation. Also motivating him is the lack of attention from big-time college programs. The 6-foot-3, 260-pound pass-rushing ace was originally committed to Houston and had offers from Florida Atlantic, McNeese State and UTSA at the time. When SMU offered and secured a commitment from his teammate and close friend Lancaster, Minor flipped to the Mustangs and hasn't looked back.
With his postseason performance, in which he has recorded multiple sacks in each of the last three games and done everything from block punts to force safeties, it would stand to reason that more attention has come. That wasn't the case until Thursday, when he was offered by Utah.
"I haven't heard from no one, surprisingly," Minor said before the Utah offer came. "I'm not worried about that, though. We have something to focus on in order to reach our goal. Since me and Ced committed, it's been exciting because we've formed a bond, just like the rest of the team. Our bond is almost like blood brothers, even though we're not."
The pair is excited about the Mustangs. Both were recruited by co-offensive coordinator and receivers coach Jason Phillips and both like the combination of football and education that SMU offers.
"It's really exciting," said Lancaster, who leads the team with seven interceptions this year. "Me and Zelt, we plan on growing together and get even bigger as we go to SMU and help that program."
And the impact their team is having on their school, district and city isn't lost on them.
"We're making history here," Minor said. "Our coaches are going to talk about us 10 years from now, this one group right here, because there's never going to be another group like this. I'm just honored to be on this team."