Editor at Large
Is it too early to declare “must games” in the high school football season? Maybe not.
All San Marcos High School football coach Steve Van Nest knows is that no one wants to fall down 0-2 in District 27-4A, and the Rattlers approach tonight’s game against New Braunfels Canyon in that danger.
The Rattlers and Canyon have played a couple interesting games in the last two years, with San Marcos winning last year’s contest, 28-21. This year is different, as district standing is on the line.
The game figures to match two similar attacks in broad outline, since both teams rely almost exclusively on their ability to run the ball. San Marcos does it with deception from its Slot-T offense, while Canyon is known for very aggressive blocking to lead the skill performances of running back Robert Clay, who rushed for 111 yards last week in a 45-27 win against Seguin.
“It’s going to be a hard-hitting football game,” Van Nest said. “They’re going to come out ready to play and, for us, it’s big because we want to get a win in the district.”
San Marcos is trying to come back from a very frustrating loss last Friday at Steele, where they dropped the first two kickoffs and found themselves behind, 14-0, before they ever snapped the ball. In the end, the Rattlers lost, 49-17. Literally, from the opening kickoff, the Rattlers were playing catch up.
Most accounts agree that Steele kicker Matt Nelson delivers a uniquie kickoff, high and knuckling, making it hard for returners to catch. However, that wasn’t the end of San Marcos’ problems. The Rattlers, who have been to the playoffs nine straight times, fell behind, 35-0, before halftime.
“We expect our kids to be able to catch a kick,” Van Nest said. “(Steele’s Nelson) kicked the ball about as high as anybody. We can’t replicate that in practice with anybody who can kick it or throw it. But we can’t use that as an excues. We have to be able to stop them. When we did get the ball, we didn’t do what we wanted with it early. The kids righted the ship in the second half and we played better.”
At 2-0, the Rattlers haven’t yet established a featured running back, spreading the ball around to a cast including Isaiah Banks, Kristian Cogdill, Andrew Cortez, Joekkava Yzaguirre, Scooter Walker and Michael Wilburn. With that group, the Rattlers hope to get themselves back into their neighborhood of 350-400 rushing yards after rushing for 257 yards last week against Steele.
“We’re fortunate that we do have a lot of people we can give the ball to,” Van Nest said. “As the season goes along, guys will step up and earn their carries.”
Canyon is 3-1 overall entering tonight’s game at Bobcat Stadium (7:30 p.m.).
Entering the District 27-4A season’s second week, Steele, Canyon, Kerrville Tivy and Alamo Heights all are 1-0, while the Rattlers, Boerne, Schertz Clemens and Seguin all are 0-1.