SAN ANTONIO – For the fourth time in five years, two San Antonio area powerhouse programs will play one another in the playoffs when O’Connor hosts Judson Friday night at Farris Stadium.
The Rockets have won the last two playoff meetings, including last season’s 56-28 showdown at Rutledge Stadium. In 2014, Judson beat O’Connor 50-35 at Alamo Stadium.
The Panthers are eager to show that this year is different. O’Connor went unbeaten in District 28-6A this season en route to a league title, but it’s been four years since the Panthers beat Judson in the playoffs.
“We’ve played them the past couple of years, and they’ve knocked us out,” said Roel Sanchez, O’Connor quarterback. “The last time we beat them was 2012, and we have a chance to really start off our playoffs beating them, and just hopefully getting a long run after that.”
“I know they are going to give their all. They have a pretty good record and we do as well, and we have seen them before, so it’s going to be a pretty good game,” said Omar Nesbit, Judson linebacker.
The Panthers offense is one of the most prolific units in the area. Behind a solid offensive line, Sanchez has thrown for 21 touchdowns, six to wideout Jonathan Tapia.
Sanchez and running back Brandin Bradford have combined for more than 1,300 yards on the ground.
Judson is loaded with talented players on both sides of the ball as well. The Rockets have a three-headed rushing attack led by quarterback Julon Williams.
Williams, Mi’kel Jackson and Sincere McCormick have combined to rush for over 1,900 yards this season. Stats and history aside, both programs know they will have to play well to advance.
“It’s an every year thing. We’ve seen O’Connor before and we know what they do and they know what we do,” said Paul Hicks, Judson center.
“It’s the playoffs. It’s win or go home, there’s always excitement in the air and tension,” said Blake Noah, O’Connor defensive lineman.
Both teams also expect the atmosphere to be electric at Farris Stadium. As district champions, O’Connor will get to host Judson for the first time at a Northside ISD stadium. Judson finished third in District 27-6A.
“It’s going to be awesome. We’ve traveled well to Farris Stadium and we’ve had some big crowds, and exciting crowds and I know our kids are excited, and the community is excited about a home playoff game,” said David Malesky, O’Connor head coach.
“The chance to play against a quality opponent like the O’Connor Panthers and coach Malesky, that's what high school football is all about,” said Sean McAuliffe, Judson head coach.
The winner of this game will play the winner of Reagan and Austin Westlake, another powerhouse matchup being played Friday at Heroes Stadium. Expectations are high and the season is on the line for both teams.
“There’s high expectations, and we’re expected to be doing exactly what we did today which is practice and get ready for a playoff game. We’re excited about the chance to go compete on Friday,” said McAuliffe.
“Those guys are the big guys on the block, and deservedly so,” Malesky said. “We haven’t really taken those huge steps that you want to try and separate yourself and try to be talked about in the elite of the state so it would be a big win for us, no question, but it would be a big win more importantly because it gives us an opportunity to play in the second round of the playoffs.”