The Big Game in our Big Game Coverage to kick off the 2018 high school football season will feature two top 5 teams in 12’s top 12 and a rematch from last season that wasn’t decided until the final seconds.
It’s 3-O’Connor versus 5-Steele at Lehnhoff Stadium on Friday night.
"I’m ready for it, because last year was a really good game. That was really fun.” said Grant Rustan, senior safety for the Panthers.
Rustan is not kidding. The Panthers outlasted the Knights 42-30 in a game that featured so many big plays: a 100-yard interception return for a touchdown by Steele’s JayVeon Cardwell and an ensuing 76-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by O’Connor’s Millard Bradford.
Even with all that, the game did not get decided until Panthers quarterback Roel Sanchez scored a 22-yard touchdown run with just over a minute remaining in the game to seal the victory.
“This year, we have a different team, obviously,” Rustan said. "I think we are going to play good. I’m excited."
Last year, the game was played in week 3 of the high school football season, which left O’Connor 3-0 and Steele at 1-2.
The Panthers would go onto win 13 straight, a new school record, and their only loss of the season came in the regional finals to finish 13-1.
To Steele’s credit, they rebounded and, even though they lost two more games in district, the Knights still made it to the regional finals but in division II, where they finished 9-5.
“You know, it’s going to be a great test for us for our first game of the year, “ said David Saenz, Steele head coach. “Just to see what type of team you are going to have and prepare us for our district.”
When asked if he still gets butterflies for a season opener, Saenz was very honest.
“Without a doubt, I still get butterflies just like when I was playing 20 plus years ago," he said.
Kick off Friday night is set for 7:30 p.m. and it should be standing room only.