Players to watch during the 2023 KSAT Pigskin Classic

High school football season kicks off with four games in two days at the Alamodome

Uvalde football takes the field at the Honey Bowl. (Andrew Cely, KSAT)

SAN ANTONIO – Eight high school football programs around the San Antonio area will participate in the second-annual KSAT Pigskin Classic and the four games will include several highly touted players.

This year’s KSAT Pigskin Classic is bigger than the last, with the four high school football games planned over two fun-filled days to help kick off the Texas high school football season.

This year’s matchups start with Antonian vs. Holy Cross on Friday, Aug. 25 and Southside vs. Somerset, then Jefferson vs. Uvalde and O’Connor vs. Brandeis on Saturday, Aug. 26 all the Alamodome.


Each of the four games has several players that are either being highly recruited or have made a name for themselves in the past season. Here’s a look at some of the players to know heading into this weekend’s high school football action:

Holy Cross vs. Antonian

In Friday’s game, when the Holy Cross Knights take on the Antonian Apaches, the scoreboard should light up with tons of points with two experienced quarterbacks.

Quarterback Gibby Alvarado returns for his third year as the starter for Holy Cross, after he passed for 1,711 yards and 20 touchdowns a season ago. He’ll have a talented offensive line in front of him with two all-state players protecting him in Thomas Estevez and Josue Lerma. Estevez was named to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s preseason 11-man private school all-state team this year.

“We know the atmosphere going into the game is going to be crazy, we’re just grateful to be in this position, to be able to play in this big of a stage and we’re really grateful. Antonian’s a great team, so it’ll be great to play a team of that caliber,” Alvarado said to KSAT 12 Sports.

Antonian’s quarterback, Jayce Toscano, was an all-star player last year as well, after passing for 2,575 yards and 30 touchdowns. His primary target, Raleigh Strode, is an all-state performer and is back after catching 44 passes for 856 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago. Strode plays on both offense and defense and was named to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football’s preseason 11-man private school all-state team as a defensive back.

“It’s exciting (playing in the Alamodome), and it’s going to be a great experience for us and our family. There’s a bunch of fans that can watch us and like I said, it’ll help bring up the tension of the game, making it more intense,” Toscano said.

South Side vs. Somerset

The “Battle of 1604″ rivalry game between Southside and Somerset is a highly-anticipated showdown as both schools won 10 games last season, with Somerset defeating Southside 23-14 to earn bragging rights in the rivalry.

Somerset’s offense this year begins with running back Josiah Lugo, who rushed for 1,339 yards and 13 touchdowns a season ago. He is a state-powerlifting champion. Lugo is joined in the backfield by second-year starting quarterback Koby Isbell, who threw for 11 touchdowns last season.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs are led by linebacker Victor Castaneda, who accounted for 70 tackles and 12 sacks. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football selected Castaneda as the district’s preseason defensive MVP.

For Southside High School, all-state honorable mention Aaron Abrego anchors the offense and defensive lines. Dave Campbell’s Texas Football selected Abrego as his district’s preseason defensive MVP.

“It’s going to be a great atmosphere. We’re going to want everyone to come out and support us, we’re going to put on a show,” Abrego said.

Linebacker Paul Jaramillo is back after leading the Cardinals in tackles last season. On offense, Southside will look to running back Noah Van Ausdall to carry the load while the group builds experience.

Jefferson vs. Uvalde

Uvalde is predicted to again make the playoffs, but they open their season against a tough Jefferson team, another program looking to take a step forward after a 4-6 regular season.

Most of Uvalde’s returning experience lies in the defense, which has seven starters. Linebacker Caden Smith and defensive back E’lijah Carroll are two of team’s expected leaders on that side of the ball. Junior Albert De La Garza is also hyped to have a big season for the secondary.

Brodie Carnes, a third-year player for the Coyotes as the starting quarterback, will have several young receivers, including sophomores Diego Granados and Josh Verdusco.

“I’ve never done anything like this before (playing in the Alamodome). It’ll be a heck of an experience for sure, we’re going to come out there hot, and do the best we can,” Brodie Carnes said.

The Mustangs, meanwhile, are looking for their first winning season since 2009. They’re going to rely on dual-threat quarterback Amonte Carter, who rushed for 11 touchdowns last season for solid offensive play behind an offensive line anchored by Leonardo Guzman and Amari Owens.

The defense is led by defensive back Michael Flores and linebacker Hector Munoz. Carter also plays defensive back.

“It’s going to be nerve-racking, but we’re excited. With all the support, it’s going to be the biggest atmosphere, the biggest field, everything is going to be bigger. Can’t wait for the support and to be ready on the field and go hard,” Amonte Carter said.

O’Connor vs. Brandeis

The showdown between the Panthers and Broncos is a revival of last year’s season opener for both teams, a game that Brandeis won, 27-17.

O’Connor is led by their huge 6-foot-4 inch offensive lineman Briley Brown, a 2024 UTSA football commit and current three-star recruit, according to 247Sports. He’s expected to bring a veteran presence to the unit as a three-year starter in the offense.

The defense will showcase the talents of linebacker Ryan Mason (16 tackles, 2 sacks last year) and defensive backs Ryder Dorn (20 tackles, 2 interceptions), Nicolas Chapa (37 tackles) and Cali Evan Billeala (17 tackles).

“There’s definitely tension for sure, it’s a lot of fun actually playing everyone you know and went to middle school with. There’s a lot of trash-talking for sure,” Briley Brown said.

Brandeis has a new starting quarterback Tre’ Pepito, but he has already previously started twice, winning both times. Junior wide receiver Jaden Perez is a breakout candidate, after totaling 691 yards and six touchdowns last season.

On the defensive side, defensive back Jacob Voss (74 tackles, 4 INTs) should provide senior leadership from his free safety position. He’ll be paired with defensive lineman Andrew McConnell (29 tackles, 4 sacks) and cover cornerback Deron Hall, who blocked two field goals last year.

“I am going to be all in and there to compete, and there to win,” Andrew McConnell said. “There’s a lot of excitement since last year’s games were pretty exciting.”

About the KSAT Pigskin Classic

. (KSAT)

The second-annual KSAT Pigskin Classic will kick off Aug. 25 and 26 at San Antonio’s Alamodome and tickets are now on sale.


All the games will be broadcast on KSAT 12, on the KSAT Plus app, the Big Game Coverage app and on

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.

Download the Big Game Coverage mobile app or visit the Big Game Coverage section for high school sports coverage, including game livestreams, from KSAT 12.

Editor’s note: Daniel P. Villanueva and Mark Mendez contributed to this report.

About the Author:

Ben Spicer is a digital journalist who works the early morning shift for KSAT.