SAN ANTONIO – Holy Cross opens its season against Antonian in the first game of the 2023 KSAT Pigskin Classic, on Friday, Aug. 25, at the Alamodome.
Thousands will watch the Knights play the Apaches, Southside take on Somerset, Jefferson face Uvalde and O’Connor versus Brandeis over the fun-filled two-day event.
The 2023 KSAT Pigskin Classic opener should be a high-scoring classic quarterback duel, as both programs return veteran starters to the game’s most important position.
The Knights return 12 starters, six on offense and six on defense, from last year’s 9-2 team, and those in the program think this could be a year that they make it to the state title game.
Quarterback Gibby Alvarado returns for his third year as the starter after he passed for 1,711 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago. He’ll also have a quality offensive line and defense flanking him, including two all-state players in Josue Lerma and Thomas Estevez, who had 72 tackles a year ago.
In an interview with KSAT 12 Sports, Head Coach Mike Harrison said he was overwhelmed to hear that Holy Cross was chosen to participate in the KSAT Pigskin Classic.
“How about honored, privileged? I mean there are so many words that come to mind for us. Personally, when you’re a coach, this is kind of a dream. You get your kids to this environment, this kind of venue, it’s going to help us later on,” Harrison said.
He said those watching the game can expect to see high-quality Holy Cross football.
“That’s going to be tough, hard-nosed kids that play very, very, very, disciplined, very aggressive, and we’re going to get after it. Our kids play hard. And that’s been the mantra of Holy Cross for a very long time. They are going to play with passion, they’re going to play with intensity, and they’re going to play with discipline. That’s what we expect to give our fans and everybody watching on TV,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the game certainly will be a measuring stick, since they’re playing such a quality opponent.
“First of all, playing a team like Antonian, holy cow, a very good football team. They’re going to make us better, playing in this venue is going to make us better. And that’s really what we’re talking about, is what happens with us being in this type of environment early. It’s going to make us a better football team. We’re extremely excited about it,” he said.
The Apaches’ title hopes begin with the return of all-state quarterback Jayce Toscano, who last year threw for more than 2,500 yards and 30 touchdowns, along with all-state receiver Raleigh Strode, who is back after catching 44 passes for more than 850 yards and 12 TDs. The defense also appears strong, with the return of seven starters from last year’s nine-win team.
In an interview with KSAT 12 Sports, Head Coach Blake Fuschak said he never could have expected to have had his Antonian team chosen to play in something as esteemed as the KSAT Pigskin Classic.
“It’s an unbelievable opportunity, for our kids, for our community. I’ve been at Antonian for 12 years, I would never have fathomed having this opportunity,” Fuschak said. “We’re really excited, we’re looking forward to it. Holy Cross is a long-time rival. It’s going to be a competitive game. We’re just incredibly grateful for this opportunity.”
But with this chance comes the necessity to buckle down and stay focused, amid all the distractions.
“I think we’re going to have to calm the kids’ nerves, I think we’re going to have calm my nerves and our coaching staff’s nerves. I had the opportunity to play in the Alamodome, my father coached lots of games at the Alamodome and it really is a completely different, jaw-dropping setting. I think our kids will be up for it and I think that excitement is good for them, it’s good for them to play in a venue like this, as hard as they work, as hard as the kids at Holy Cross work, I think we both deserve this opportunity.”
The Apaches’ coach, however, also knows that a win won’t be easy to come by.
“Anytime you play Holy Cross, you can expect a physical football game. They’re going to have physical, tough kids, and they’re going to get after it. If you’re not ready for a dogfight, then they’re going to jump on you early and often. We’ve got to be prepared for a physical football game for all four quarters,” Fuschak said.
Kickoff for the game is set for 7 p.m.
About the KSAT Pigskin Classic
The second-annual KSAT Pigskin Classic will kick off Aug. 25 and 26 at San Antonio’s Alamodome and tickets are now on sale.
This year’s KSAT Pigskin Classic is even bigger than last year’s inaugural event, with four high school football games to kick off the Texas high school football season.