No. 3 Johnson opens playoff run against No. 8 New Braunfels; BGC Roadtrip features Somerset vs. Fredericksburg; Three games to watch in Bi-District round

Brandeis, Harlan and O’Connor volleyball enter Class 6A Regional Tournament; Area athletes sign National Letters of Intent

Brennan BGC Playoff Newsletter (Andrew Cely, KSAT)

It all starts tonight! With the regular season officially in the rearview mirror, KSAT 12′s Big Game Coverage (BGC) kicks off the playoffs with some incredible matchups right out of the gates. It’s win or go home. Every team left standing is now six wins away from the ultimate goal: a state title.

An opening-round battle between two top 10 teams is our Game of the Week:

(Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

NO. 3 JOHNSON VS. NO. 8 NEW BRAUNFELS

The undefeated Jaguars will be tested immediately against one of the best stories of the year, New Braunfels.

The Unicorns (8-2, 5-2) jumped out to a 3-0 start before putting the San Antonio area on notice with a come-from-behind victory over Judson in Week 4. Back-to-back losses to Smithson Valley and Steele might have tempered their momentum, but the Unicorns rallied and won close games over Wagner and East Central before ending with dominant wins over Clemens and South San to close the regular season. As a result, the battle-tested Unicorns are playing their best ahead of their toughest challenge to date.

Johnson (10-0, 8-0) has proven they can win games in a variety of different ways. If the game is a low-scoring, defensive battle, they can make the decisive plays down the stretch to secure the victory like they did against Wagner in Week 1. If they’re locked into an offensive shootout, they can rally from double-digit deficits like they did against Reagan in Week 10. The Jaguars can also just flip a switch offensively and pour it on to win by sizable margins. There is no question this team has been tested, especially over the final four weeks of the regular season, but the District 28-6A champions know exactly what it takes to get the job done.

In many ways, these two teams are mirror images of each other. Strong running backs in Johnson’s Ben McCreary and New Braunfels’ Ryker Purdy complement dynamic quarterbacks in Johnson’s Cruz Kirwan and New Braunfels’ Aiden Baumann. There’s also some significant talent on the outside: Unicorns Lance Beeghley and Landon Marsh will try to match scores with Jaguars Canaan Fairley and Alejandro Tavarez.

New Braunfels took the last meeting between these two teams on Friday, Sept. 13, 2019 by erasing a 14-point halftime deficit to win 28-21. Then a sophomore, Purdy carried the ball 15 times for 160 yards and three touchdowns, including the 39-yard game-winner with 2:06 left in the fourth quarter.

Will the Jags keep their undefeated season alive? Or will New Braunfels pull the first-round upset? We’ll find out on Friday night at Heroes Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

(Copyright 2021 by KSAT - All rights reserved.)

Sports anchor Larry Ramirez hitches a ride along with photographer Eddie Latigo to the northeast, where the pair will make a trio of stops in New Braunfels and Seguin!

  • Fredericksburg (6-4) vs. Somerset (8-2) at Rutledge Stadium - The Battlin’ Billies meet the Bulldogs in the playoffs for the first time since a Bi-District matchup in 2013. Fredericksburg won that game 38-27.
  • Blanco (4-6) vs. Jourdanton (6-4) at New Braunfels Canyon - The Panthers and Indians last met in the playoffs in 2011′s Class 2A Division I second round. Blanco won that game 14-13.
  • La Vernia (2-8) vs. Austin Johnson (10-0) at Matador Stadium - After a rough regular season, the Bears will look for a fresh start against an undefeated Jaguars team that has scored 40 or more points in four consecutive games.

THREE GAMES TO WATCH

(KSAT)

Kennedy (7-3) vs. Southwest (7-3)

Two teams with identical overall records meet Thursday night in a matchup of strength vs. strength, and a little history will add some spice to an already intriguing matchup.

After starting District 13-5A Division I play 0-3, the Rockets rebounded and won their final five games to earn the sixth playoff berth in program history and the first since 2009. Their reward? A first-round matchup against a hard-nosed Dragons squad that finished 5-1 in District 14-5A Division I. Southwest is no stranger to defensive battles. Their defense has only allowed a total of 42 points over their last six games, including two shutouts. Meanwhile, Kennedy’s offense has scored 27 points or more in three consecutive games.

East Central (6-4) vs. Reagan (7-3)

For the first time since 2015, the Hornets are back in the playoffs, and it appears that they’re playing some of their best football at the right time of year. They will certainly be tested against one of San Antonio’s perennial football powers: Reagan. Aside from three losses to the top three teams in the area, the Rattlers have been very impressive. Six of their seven wins were decided by 21 points or more.

Southside (5-5) vs. Lanier (8-2)

When Nebraska commit Richard Torres went down with a season-ending injury, many thought Southside’s season may be over. But after posting a 1-3 record in non-district play, the Cardinals rallied and scrapped their way through a tough, six-game district slate, finishing 4-2 and qualifying for the playoffs. Their opponent on Saturday afternoon at the Rockpile will be a Lanier team that wants to send longtime head coach Don Gatian out on a high note. The Voks have proven to be one of the best teams in District 13-5A Division I, and have won three straight games by a combined margin of 118-41.

(KSAT/Henry Keller)

Be sure to keep up with the latest information by visiting our Scores & Schedules page! That includes every game’s date, kickoff time and location. It will be updated with live scores throughout the night so you can track every game in progress.

>> Check out the full Playoff Schedule right here! <<

And for a full list of which games KSAT 12 will be streaming via Texas Sports Productions on the BGC App, click here!


Let’s get Greg and Larry’s thoughts on the opening week of playoff action!

(KSAT)

I am looking forward to the first week of the Texas high school football playoffs after as many as four teams in 12′s top 12 finished undefeated in the regular season: No. 1 Brennan followed by No. 2 Steele, No. 3 Johnson and No. 4 Alamo Heights.

It appears on paper that the biggest challenge faced by the undefeated teams will be Johnson, who must host No. 8 New Braunfels this Friday night at Heroes Stadium.

While the Jaguars are 10-0, the Unicorns come into this game 8-2 with their only losses to Smithson Valley and Steele. And like Johnson, they have a two-pronged attack on offense. Quarterback Aiden Baumann with 1,686 yards and 20 touchdowns to go along with running back Ryker Purdy’s 947 yards and 9 TDs compared to Johnson QB Cruz Kirwan’s 1,910 yds and 21 TDs with the best running back in the area Ben McCreary’s 1,438 and 20 TDs.

You can see why this is not only the “Big Game” in our Big Game Coverage this Friday night, it’s also the KSAT 12/Texas Sports Productions Game of the Week, which means you can watch it live on KSAT 12.2 and on the BGC APP.

(KSAT)

The BGC Road Trip -- playoff edition -- will start at Rutledge Stadium in Converse with a Class 4A-D1 Bi-District contest between the Fredericksburg Battlin’ Billies, and the Somerset Bulldogs. The Billies (6-4, 3-2) finished third in District 13-4A-1 and the Bulldogs (8-2, 3-1) were runner-up in District 14-4A-1. Fredericksburg is back in the playoffs after missing out last season. Somerset snapped a two-year playoff drought.

These two programs met each other in the 2013 playoffs, and the Battlin Billies’ advanced 38-27. This will be the first meeting between the two schools since that game when they both were in Class 3A. Somerset head coach Koy Detmer was the Bulldogs offensive coordinator in 2013, calling the plays for his father and legendary Texas high school football head coach, Sonny Detmer.

Somerset enters the playoffs as winners of two straight, while Fredericksburg lost its regular-season finale 52-42 to Lampasas. Billies head coach Lance Moffett told KSAT 12 sports his team is mad and hungry to win after dropping that game. Kickoff between the Billies and Bulldogs is set for 7 p.m. on Friday at D.W. Rutledge Stadium in Converse.

(KSAT)

Whether openly or subconsciously, every volleyball team left standing in the UIL playoffs is thinking the same thing: “We’re two wins away from going to state.”

After last year’s alteration to the normal schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Curtis Culwell Center will host the entire UIL State volleyball tournament for the first time since 2019. The last two teams to make the trip up to Garland were Clemens and Alamo Heights. Last year, Reagan qualified for a semifinal matchup against Katy Seven Lakes at the Merrell Center in Katy, but couldn’t quite complete a dramatic rally to secure a spot in the Class 6A championship.

The landscape looks very different this time around.

Brandeis, Harlan and O’Connor are the three remaining area teams left in the Class 6A Regional Tournament. In the third round, seniors Carlee Pharris and Jalyn Gibson helped the Broncos fend off a valiant comeback effort from Madison on Tuesday night to win 3-1, while Harlan rolled past Warren 3-0. The Broncos and Hawks will meet in the Regional Semifinals on Friday at 5 p.m. at the Alamo Convocation Center. O’Connor is looking to return to state for the first time since 2018. After surviving a five-set epic against Laredo United, the Panthers will face Austin Vandegrift in the ACC that same night at 7 p.m. The winners of those two matches will then play in the Regional Final at 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning.

In Class 5A, New Braunfels Canyon edged out Leander Rouse in a five-set thriller to return to the regional tournament for the second straight season. The Cougarettes were one win away from a berth in the state semifinals last year, but fell to Dripping Springs in four sets. The Tigers are on the other side of the bracket, meaning those two could meet once again with a state berth on the line. First, Canyon takes on Gregory-Portland Friday at 7 p.m. at Northside Sports Gym.

Wimberley will also have their shot to compete for a berth at state. The Texans have won 15 straight matches dating back to Sept. 21, and will take on Corpus Christi Tuloso-Midway in the Class 4A Regional Semifinals at Littleton Gym this Friday at 5 p.m.

Last but not least, TAPPS teams have reached the third round of the playoffs. In 6A competition, Antonian swept Katy St. John XXIII and Incarnate Word defeated The Village School on Tuesday afternoon to keep their seasons alive. This Saturday, the Apaches will face Tomball Concordia Lutheran in Flatonia and the Shamrocks will play Houston St. Agnes at Victoria St. Joseph. Both matches are scheduled to start at 1 p.m.

>> To get you ready for this weekend’s volleyball action, check out Tuesday night’s highlights! <<

And a quick shoutout to all of the area athletes who signed their letters of intent to compete at the next level on National Signing Day yesterday! You can watch all of KSAT 12′s coverage from the big day by clicking here!

(KSAT)

Watch Instant Replay on KSAT 12 Sunday nights at 11

The KSAT 12 Sports team will recap all of the best highlights in the Best of BGC and reveal the updated rankings in KSAT 12′s Top 12 this Sunday night on Instant Replay. See you then!

Andrew Cely, KSAT 12 Sports Producer and Reporter


About the Author:

Andrew has covered athletics of all levels for more than five years and is dedicated to shining a spotlight on local San Antonio athletes and their stories.