Somehow, the 2021 high school football season continues to find new ways to surprise us! Week 9 of KSAT 12′s Big Game Coverage (BGC) added more drama and intrigue to the final weeks of the regular season with last-second comebacks, huge upsets and overtime thrillers, including a potential Game Of The Year candidate between the Judson Rockets and Smithson Valley Rangers.
Let’s get to the highlights! First, a recap of the biggest moments from the week that was in Week 9′s Best of BGC.
Week 9 featured all kinds of jaw-dropping plays from the greater San Antonio area. Check out the best of the best, including plays from Somerset, Alamo Heights, Brandeis and Judson!
Smithson Valley was knocked from the ranks of the unbeatens leaving five undefeated teams in our weekly KSAT 12′s Top 12 rankings. How did that result affect the rankings? Find out who’s in and who’s out heading into Week 10!
Week 9′s Game of the Week was once again decided by a single possession.
ALAMO HEIGHTS 21, BOERNE CHAMPION 17
Alamo Heights (8-0, 3-0) is still undefeated after yet another tough test in District 15-5A Division II, and once again they relied heavily on quarterback James Sobey, wide receiver Rett Andersen and running back George Flesher to pull out a hard-fought victory.
The Mules jumped out to a 14-0 lead early in the second quarter on a 16-yard touchdown pass from Sobey to Andersen and a three-yard score from Flesher. Champion (6-2, 2-1) rallied with 17 straight points. Running back Alex Rodriguez ripped off a 49-yard touchdown run and quarterback Karson Kaiser found Ryan Brandon on a 36-yard strike for a 17-14 halftime lead.
Heights retook the lead midway through the third quarter on another touchdown connection from Sobey to a back-pedaling Andersen, and the Mules defense pitched a shutout for the remainder of regulation thanks to a pair of interceptions. Sobey finished with nine completions for 137 yards and two TDs. Alamo Heights is now 5-0 in games decided by eight points or less and enters the final two weeks of the regular season with tie-breaking victories over the next best teams in the district standings in their back pocket.
JUDSON 33, SMITHSON VALLEY 32
District 27-6A is officially in chaos.
One week after losing to East Central on a last-second Hail Mary play, Judson (3-5, 2-3) again found themselves protecting a late lead. This time, the dramatics came on the road against No. 3 Smithson Valley (7-1, 4-1). The Rockets led 27-26 with less than two minutes to play, but on fourth-and-seven at the 45, Smithson Valley quarterback Derek Mata found Zack McDonald for 39 yards and a first down at the six-yard line. The pass and catch was eerily similar to Jack Stewart’s game-winning touchdown grab last week, and with the Rangers suddenly in field goal range, it appeared that the Rockets would come up short yet again. Two plays later, running back Malachi Lane found the end zone for the go-ahead score. He finished the night with 17 carries for 118 yards and three touchdowns, and Smithson Valley led 32-27 with :57 left in regulation.
This time, Judson would have the final say. The Rockets marched downfield and faced a third-and-three at the 35-yard line with a handful of seconds on the clock. Quarterback Michael Burroughs stepped up into the pocket and uncorked a perfect deep ball down the near sideline. Wide receiver Andre Jones used his fingertips to haul in the pass with :08 left, and Judson stole the lead back 33-32. The Rockets ended the game with a tackle on the ensuing kickoff, completing a stunning comeback and an improbable reversal for a program that had dealt with so much drama over the prior seven days. Burroughs completed 23 passes for 348 yards and three touchdowns and carried the ball 12 times for 41 yards and a score on the ground. Evans caught eight of those passes for 203 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including the season-saving score.
As a result, Steele is now the only undefeated team remaining in 27-6A. Smithson Valley is second in the standings at 4-1. New Braunfels and East Central are both 3-2 while Clemens and Judson are 2-3. The Rockets will take on the Knights this week, then end the regular season with a matchup against their crosstown rival Wagner. After such a disappointing start... can Judson win out and continue their 44-year streak of non-losing seasons?
MEMORIAL 45, SAM HOUSTON 42
District 13-5A Division I had yet another game go down to the wire! This time, Memorial (4-4, 3-3) edged out Sam Houston (2-6, 2-5) at Edgewood Veterans Stadium and kept their hopes of a playoff berth alive.
The Minutemen rallied from a 10-point halftime deficit with a 20-point third quarter. Matthew Rubio’s six-yard score capped a 19-0 run that gave Memorial a 31-28 lead with a little over 20 minutes left in regulation. That kicked off a wild see-saw battle as both teams traded scores. Three minutes later, the Hurricanes found the end zone on Jacoby Sada’s second rushing touchdown of the night, and they led 34-31. Sada finished the game with 18 carries for 100 yards.
Fifty-five seconds later, Memorial’s Alex Villareal answered with a three-yard score that put the Minutemen back on top 38-34 entering the fourth quarter. Villareal was a beast, rushing 28 times for 140 yards and two touchdowns. Sam Houston answered the bell in crunch time. Quarterback Donovan Beal scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a 10-yard scamper, and the Hurricanes regained the lead with a little under seven minutes left on the clock.
That was plenty of time for the Minutemen. Quarterback Sam Hernandez found Rubio for the game-winning, 28-yard touchdown with 3:03 left to play, and Memorial’s defense shut the Hurricanes down the rest of the way to secure the victory. Hernandez only completed seven passes, but he threw for 168 yards and three scores.
As a result, Memorial is 3-3 in district play and stuck right in the middle of a three-way tie for fifth place in the standings with Kennedy and Edison. Brackenridge currently holds the top spot with a 5-2 district record, followed by Highlands, Lanier and Burbank who all boast a 4-2 record. Buckle up, everybody! These final weeks are going to get crazy.
MADISON 24, BRANDEIS 21 (OT)
Saturday afternoon’s KSAT 12/Texas Sports Productions Game of the Week between Madison and Brandeis turned out to be one of the most dramatic matchups of the weekend, but it certainly didn’t start out that way.
The No. 7 Broncos (6-2, 4-2) looked like one of the best teams in San Antonio on their first two possessions, racing out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter on rushing touchdowns from quarterback Nico Garcia and Rafe Clendenin. But Madison’s defense helped turn the tide in the second quarter, as the Mavericks’ running game came to life.
First, running back Darius Dillard broke off a pair of huge runs and scored a three-yard touchdown to cut the lead in half 14-7 heading into halftime. Then, quarterback Caden Mata took advantage of busted coverage and connected with Nevon Cooper on a 63-yard touchdown pass that tied the game 14-14 with three minutes left in the third quarter. That momentum carried over into the fourth quarter, and the Mavericks appeared to have won the game on Mata’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Trey Brown with :40 seconds left in regulation.
But Brandeis did not go down without a fight. Clark Ullrich stepped in at quarterback for the injured Garcia and led a dormant offense down the field in the waning seconds. Facing fourth-and-five at the 39-yard line with :02 left to play, Ullrich heaved a prayer towards the near sideline. It deflected off a defender’s facemask right into the waiting arms of Clendenin, who waltzed into the end zone with a stunning, game-tying, 34-yard touchdown. An excessive celebration penalty moved the ensuing extra point back 15 yards, but Cristian Najera drilled his kick through the uprights, and both teams prepared for overtime.
How did Madison respond to that gut-punch drive? Their defense stoned the Broncos on the opening possession of OT, pushed them out of field goal range entirely and recorded a sack on fourth down. The Mavericks offense then helped set up kicker Caden Esquivel for a game-winning 26-yard field goal attempt, and he put it through the uprights, as Madison (4-4, 3-3) earned a season-defining victory and kept their playoff hopes alive.
What a year this has been this season in high school football, and nothing could demonstrate that more than what has happened in just the last couple of weeks.
One week after Judson was the victim of a last-second, game-winning touchdown by East Central -- a result that led in part to the dismissal of their head coach Rodney Williams in the middle of just his third season -- the Rockets rebounded with the upset of the season so far in our Big Game Coverage: their own last-second, game-winning, 35-yard touchdown pass from QB Michael Burroughs to Andre Jones with just eight seconds left to hand the Smithson Valley Rangers their first loss of the season 33-32.
These were two teams headed in different directions until their collision on Friday night at Ranger Stadium. I got to run into the man who called that game, Ted Davis, who is now working for Texas Sports Productions. If the name sounds familiar, it should. He’s the longtime play-by-play announcer for the Milwaukee Bucks who hung it up after their first title in 50 years. Now, he has moved back to Texas, picking up where he left off in his first job in our business calling high school football games. And Ted got the upset of the year. How about that? Look for his story in the immediate future. Ironically, we conducted the interview at Gustafson Stadium on the same day the Milwaukee Bucks were in town to face the Spurs.
Hornet Stadium at East Central High School was buzzing Friday night for a District 27-6A football showdown between East Central and New Braunfels. The home side was packed and ready to watch their Hornets wrap up a playoff spot for the first time in six years with a win. EC jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead thanks to a 75-yard interception from Zachary Vidal that he returned to the Unicorns 15, followed by a two-yard touchdown run from Kenyon McClure. But the Unicorns scored the next 31 points to help them win 31-20. The win moved the Unicorns (6-2, 3-2) up to third in the 27-6A standings and dropped East Central (5-3, 3-2) one spot to number four. Both schools hold the final two playoff spots and still have win-and-get-in scenarios.
The second game on the BGC Road Trip had Dilley at Stockdale, and one group of fans were having a great time watching two games at once. They were sitting in a front yard right across the street from Bobby Russell Field watching game six of the American League Championship Series between the Astros and the Red Sox on a projector screen. When they wanted to see the football game, they just turned the other way. Stockdale won 22-0, and the Astros won and advanced to the World Series, so those fans had a great night.
The last game saw Poth at Nixon-Smiley where a cool thing happened: members of the Nixon-Smiley volleyball team chased us down -- I’d say a good 50 yards -- to tell us about their great season and qualifying for the playoffs. They asked if we could put them on TV and I said, “Of course.” The Lady Mustangs earned the second playoff seed in District 26-3A, and they are very excited about that accomplishment. I asked photog Eddie Latigo to shoot some video of the girls at the game cheering, and then one of the mom’s was kind enough to send us some pictures and match video to complement our story.
Keep your eyes on the Lanier Voks. After a one-point loss to Highlands last Friday, Lanier bounced back with an emphatic 33-0 victory over Jefferson at the Rockpile on Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Xavier Tellez only threw the ball six times, but he racked up 136 yards on 11 carries and found the end zone on a highlight-reel, 61-yard TD run late in the first quarter. The Voks combined to rush for 316 yards and five different players scored touchdowns. That’s the kind of confidence-builder that can propel a team to a late-season run. Lanier has district showdowns against Memorial and Burbank left on their schedule, and with teams bunched up in the current standings, those games could prove to be the difference between qualifying for the playoffs or staying home.
Speaking of the playoffs, the UIL Team Tennis State Tournament begins this week, and Wimberley is the only team from the greater San Antonio area who qualified for a trip to College Station this year. The Texans dominated singles competition and defeated Boerne 11-5 in the Class 4A Regional Final on Friday afternoon at the Anne-Marie Tennis Center. Wimberley will face Wills Point in the state semifinal on Thursday at 3 p.m. The winner advances to the state final on Friday afternoon. Good luck to the Texans!
Watch Big Game Coverage Preview show Thursday at 4 p.m.
This Thursday, I’ll be joining Greg Simmons in studio to help get you set up for Week 10 of the high school football season with our weekly Big Game Coverage Preview show, featuring breakdowns of KSAT 12′s Game of the Week and some of the biggest matchups to watch. Which teams will we feature this week? You’ll have to watch to find out!
And in case you forgot, Spurs season is officially upon us! KSAT 12′s RJ Marquez has kickstarted the weekly Spurs Newsletter to help you keep up with the new-look Silver and Black. Catch his 2021-22 season preview by clicking here, and head on over to our Newsletters page to sign up!
Andrew Cely, KSAT 12 Sports Producer and Reporter
If you have any questions about this newsletter or story ideas for the season ahead, feel free to reach me via email at email@example.com.