One memorable Saturday afternoon in December 2006, the Hays Rebels appeared to be vanquished in the Region IV high school football semifinals in the Alamodome.
The Rebels trailed third-ranked Corpus Christi Calallen, 20-14, and had the ball on their own two yard line with 43 seconds remaining and no timeouts. Hays fans already know what happened next.
The Rebels put together a drive like no other, led by quarterback Brooks Pinckard and wide receiver Clayton Rogers. The Rebels ripped down field, mostly on sideline passes, until Pinckard connected with Rogers for a touchdown on the final play of the game. With the extra-point kick, the Rebels were 21-20 victors, and the players celebrated with the coaches as Hays claimed another heart-stopping victory.
To this day, though, that is the last time Hays won a playoff game. The Rebels finished out of the playoffs in 2007, then lost in the first round to Magnolia in 2008 and lost in the first round to Huntsville in 2009.
Friday night, the Rebels will try it again, but their path through the playoffs is as difficult as that faced by any team in Texas.
The Rebels, 6-4, play Friday night in Schertz against an explosive Kerrville Tivy squad. The winner will play next week against three-time defending state champion Lake Travis (10-1), which escaped with a 28-20 win against McCallum in the first round of the playoffs Thursday night. Tivy’s only loss this year came against Lake Travis, 37-33, on Sept. 17.
Leading the way for Tivy is one of the most dynamic players in the San Antonio area, quarterback Johnny Manzeil, who averages 300.7 passing yards per game and 140.3 rushing yards, for a total of 441.0 yards per game.
That’s what one player for Tivy averages in a game. The entire Hays team is averaging 298.3 offensive yards per game. Quarterback Caleb Kimbro leads the Rebels with 848 total yards — 574 passing and 274 rushing. Torrance Smith is the leading ball carrier with 759 rushing yards.
In the only other high school football playoff game involving a Hays County team, Wimberley will take up the fruits of its 10-0 regular season against Llano at Dragon Stadium in Round Rock. Llano is 6-4.
If the Texans can advance, they expect running back Dennis Smith, a Texas A&M recruit, to return next week. Smith rushed for 720 yards before a foot injury against Sealy sidelined him on Sept. 24.
The winner between Wimberley and Llano will play next week against the winner of a Friday night game between Cuero and Devine. Cuero is 8-2, winning eight straight. Its only two losses came in its first two games. The Gobblers lost at home to Wimberley, 49-42, in their first game, then lost the next week to Liberty Hill, 36-28.