San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

October 2nd, 2009
Fighting illness, Rattlers go to Canyon


A wave of illness has swept through San Marcos High School at quite an inopportune time, just as the Rattlers face a pretty serious football moment Friday night at New Braunfels Canyon.

The Rattlers (1-2 overall, 0-1 District 27-4A) need a win Friday night if they want to avoid a repeat of last year’s unfortunate beginning to the playoff hunt. Last year, four teams in the district started at 2-0, while the other four, including the Rattlers, were 0-2, meaning those four teams were already two games removed from playoff position.

The time has been ripe for a good week of practice, which is exactly what the Rattlers couldn’t have this week. More than a dozen starters have been out at one time or another this week due to illnesses.

San Marcos coach Steve Van Nest said the Rattlers couldn’t even practice Tuesday and had to settle for a walk through Wednesday,

“You’d rather practice,” Van Nest said.

Combine that with the fact that the Rattlers played five kids at new defensive positions last week, including three new starters, and the team is in flux halfway through the season.

The Rattlers are coming off a 44-20 loss on their home field last Friday night against Cibolo Steele, which looked every bit like a team capable of snaring Region IV from Lake Travis.

Now, the Rattlers go to Canyon, a traditional power running team that has changed to a spread offense this season. The Cougars (2-2, 1-0) apparently are adjusting as the season progresses.

After losses of 17-0 to Pflugerville Hendrickson and 69-2 to New Braunfels in the Wurst Bowl, the Cougars have tacked up wins of 22-20 against Austin LBJ and 24-14 last week at Seguin in their District 27-4A opener.

Gone from last year’s Canyon outfit are two 1,000-yard rushers in running back Robert Clay and quarterback Tyler Denson. In their place is a pass-oriented attack in which the Cougars have passed 178 times, against 154 rushes.

After averaging 199.3 total yards in their first three games, the Cougars opened up for 348 total yards in their victory against Seguin. Zach Williams leads the way with 21 receptions for 213 yards, but Alex Lawrence, Kyle Jenkins, Ryan Keffer, Bryce Dunman also have caught 11 balls or more four games into the season.

Despite gains in the passing attack, the Cougars remain prone to wasted plays in the passing game. Quarterback Lane Fife has completed 55.8 percent of his passes (97 of 174) and hit only 26 of 52 passes (50 percent) for 306 yards against Seguin.

The Cougars also showed signs of improvement defensively last week. After allowing 1,209 total yards (403 per game) in their first three games, the Cougars allowed 269 total yards against Seguin for their strongest defensive outing of the season.

The Rattlers also have shown signs of life, including a 400-yard offensive output last Friday night against Steele. The Rattlers have totaled 902 yards in three games, 300.7 yards per game. Andre Ray leads the Rattlers with 45 carries for 244 yards, while Scooter Walker has 34 carries for 169 yards.

Though the Rattlers allowed 444 total yards against Steele, much of that can be accounted to one superior player, Steele running back Malcom Brown, who scored touchdowns on four straight touches totaling 138 yards.

On the whole, the Rattlers have played representative defense, allowing 269 yards per game.

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