The faces of San Marcos football players Blake Bagley (44), Pablo Nieto (52) and Dorian Perez (33) register sadness after the Rattlers were eliminated from the high school football playoff race in a 28-21 loss to Schertz Clemens Friday night. Photo by Andy Sevilla.
By BILL PETERSON
San Marcos High School football coach Steve Van Nest said he didn’t know what to tell his players after Friday night’s game, a 28-21 loss to Schertz Clemens at Bobcat Stadium.
For the second straight week, the Rattlers lost a close game, a close enough game to be decided by officiating. Friday night, Van Nest was very unhappy by a moment that he found to be an egregious error of officiating, costing the Rattlers a midfield first down in the fourth quarter as they drove towards a game-tying touchdown.
“I have never complained about officiating — much,” Van Nest said, adding that the exceptions involve games against Westlake eight years ago and Burnet six years ago. “But these last two games, back to back, make you shake your head.”
They also, perhaps, cost the Rattlers a chance to make the playoffs in 2009. Friday night’s loss officially eliminated the Rattlers, who fell to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in District 27-4A.
Even if the Rattlers win their final two games of the season against Boerne Champion and Seguin, they would finish no better than 3-4 in the district. At best, they would finish in a fourth-place tie with Clemens with, of course, Friday night’s result breaking the tie in favor of Clemens.
“This is a good group of kids to coach, a fun group of kids,” Van Nest said. “We’re going to keep playing hard and we’re going to have fun.”
Underneath those sentiments, though, was a sense that those kids were cheated in the last couple weeks, though no one will ever really know. But for a couple blinks of an eye, the Rattlers could be 3-2 in the district and on their way to 5-2, which would put them on their way to the playoffs. Already unhappy with a couple calls in last week’s 23-22 loss at Alamo Heights, the Rattlers wondered about calls again Friday night.
The Rattlers trailed, 20-14, when Tomas Velasquez blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt by Clemens’ Erik Hunsaker on the first play of the fourth period and homecoming king Bob Eric Rodriguez recovered at the San Marcos 28. The Rattlers moved to their own 46, where they faced fourth and three.
As the Rattlers set up to punt, Clemens appeared to jump and the referees blew the play dead. San Marcos coaches were stunned that the referees called their players offsides after they turned their heads toward the sideline looking for a play call.
“Every spread team in America does that,” Van Nest said about his team’s maneuver.
Instead of gaining a first down on an encroachment call, the Rattlers were pushed back five yards and they punted on the next snap. Not long after, Zachary Winbush ran 40 yards for a Clemens touchdown to make it 28-14 with 6:13 left.
The Rattlers responded with a strong drive, going 62 yards in 14 plays for a touchdown on a nine-yard run by quarterback Ryan Schweers. The Rattlers suddenly trained only 28-21. But they couldn’t recover the onside kick and Clemens took over with 2:30 left as neither team had any timeouts remaining.
When the Rattlers finally regained the ball at their own 17 after a punt, only 14 seconds remained. Schweers completed two passes, the second to Scooter Walker at the Clemens 42, but the clock ran out. Even then, though, San Marcos coaches argued that the clock should have been stopped before 0:00 so the sticks could be moved and the Rattlers could rush off one more play.
Anyone would acknowledge that referees’ calls are a part of the game. The Rattlers might have won Friday night even with the offsides call on the punt. But the game didn’t go according to form for either offense.
For the Rattlers, that was bad news. They ended the night with 315 total yards, well below their average of 434 yards in district games before Friday night. For Clemens, it was good news. The Buffaloes finished with 355 offensive yards, way above their average of 211.5 yards in district games before Friday night.
“Their playmakers made plays,” Van Nest said.
One of those playmakers, quarterback Stanley Harris, ran loose for an 86-yard touchdown with 5:40 left in the second period, giving Clemens its 20-7 halftime lead. Harris ended the night with 154 yards and two touchdowns in 18 carries. Clemens running back Abel Rodriguez didn’t score, but he gained 83 yards in six runs.
Winbush ran three times for 45 yards, scoring two touchdowns. The first, a three-yard effort midway through the first quarter, gave the Buffaloes a 6-0 lead.
The Rattlers came right back with a 38-yard touchdown run by Michael Wilburn. When Aaron Nunez made the extra point, the Rattlers held their only lead at 7-6 with 3:13 left in the first quarter.
But Clemens dashed right back down the field, led by a run for 42 yards by Rodriguez and a 14-yard carry for Devante Morris before Harris went in from two yards out to make it 13-7 with 1:34 left in the first quarter.
Trailing 20-7 at the second half kickoff, the Rattlers appeared to be on the ropes when Harris made two of his three pass completions on Clemens’ first possession of the third quarter. A completion of 36 yards to Rodriguez, followed by an 11-yard pass to David Woodfork, put Clemens on the San Marcos 20.
But Harris went back to that well two plays later, only for Bob Eric Rodriguez to make an interception at the ten yard line and tack on a 34-yard return, giving the Rattlers the ball on their own 44. San Marcos made it to the Clemens 27 before Schweers threw incomplete on fourth down, but a roughing the passer penalty against Clemens gave the Rattlers first down at the 9. On fourth and goal from the one, Andre Ray pushed it in from a yard out, bringing San Marcos within 20-14.
Ray led the Rattlers with 72 rushing yards in 15 carries. Schweers, who had completed 18 of 26 passes in the previous two weeks, completed six of 15 Friday night.
The remainder of the season now presents the Rattlers with two more chances to win. But it presents no more chances to go to the playoffs.Email | Print