This San Marcos High School football team is living as the outcome of a lot of bad memories. That makes this a season of opportunity.
For example, sitting here right now, the Rattlers haven’t won as many as three games in a season since 2008. But the Rattlers can change that Friday night, when they travel to Waco for their annual game with University High. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.
University doesn’t happen to be one of the Waco powers this year, starting the season at 0-2. The Trojans have lost, 40-0, to Manor, which is ranked No. 19 across Class 4A by Texas Football, and 28-22 to Gatesville.
The Rattlers are 2-1 after their 34-19 loss last Friday night at Georgetown. A win would give the Rattlers three wins for the first time in five years. From there, they might consider additional goals, such as a playoff appearance (2007) and a winning season (2006). Not to beat on it too hard, but when the Rattlers win their third game this year, that’s more wins than they had in the last three years combined (two).
Looking around District 25-5A three weeks into the season, it’s not crazy to think the Rattlers can finish in the top four and make the playoffs. Just consider total offensive yards through three weeks for the district’s teams, realizing they don’t play against the same people: 1. Converse Judson, 1,292; 2. San Marcos, 1,214; 3. Smithson Valley, 1,204; 4. New Braunfels Canyon, 1,123; 5. New Branfels, 897; San Antonio Wagner, 761. Those numbers are from the San Antonio Express-News.
There’s variation among all the opponents these teams play, so the numbers aren’t really equal. The Rattlers aren’t playing the most demanding non-district schedule. They’ve played Class 4A No. 8 Georgetown (by Texas Football), but Dripping Springs and Victoria East aren’t prestigious opponents, and Waco University doesn’t help, either. Converse Judson played Lake Travis and Steele to begin the year. Still, it’s an indication of something that the Rattlers were second in total yardage, averaging more than 400 per game.
The Rattlers will have to be better than two of these district teams to enter the playoffs. Are they better than Wagner? We see Wagner averaging a little more than 250 yards per game, but they have played San Antonio Reagan, Schertz Clemens and San Antonio Johnson, which are a combined 8-1. The Rattlers’ opponents, including University, are a combined 5-6. New Braunfels has just less than 300 yards per game, but the Unicorns have played Boerne Champion, Seguin and San Antonio Madison, which are a combined 8-1. New Braunfels Canyon moved the ball a bit, but its first three opponents (Killeen, Lake Travis and San Antonio Roosevelt) were a combined 4-5.
Everyone knows going in that Judson and Smithson Valley are the monster teams in this group. Texas Football has Judson ranked 14th and Smithson Valley 18th across Texas in Class 5A. Judson beat Lake Travis, which is still hard to do. Judson did lose to Steele, but Texas Football has Steele ranked fourth across all of Texas in Class 5A (Lake Travis is 15th in that ranking). Thursday night, Smithson Valley ended its tour of Texas — having played teams from El Paso and Laredo, as well as San Antonio — and played San Antonio Madison, cruising to a 47-20 win with 609 total yards.
The Rattlers will play Steele next week at Bobcat Stadium. That will certainly be an argument for their schedule. After Steele, they’ll take a bye week, but then they’ll have to buckle up for Smithson Valley and Judson over two of the next three weeks, and both of those are going to be on the road. A month from now, we won’t be talking about the Rattlers’ easy schedule. But it’s also kind of a forgiving schedule in that, even if the Rattlers don’t win again from now until November, they’ll still have a rip at the playoffs.
Early on, before District 25-5A games even start, we don’t suppose it’s dangerous to write in Judson and Smithson Valley for two of the playoff spots. That leaves the Rattlers battling with three teams for the other two playoff berths in the district. The key games, then, will be New Braunfels (Oct. 17, home), Wagner (Nov. 1, home) and Canyon (Nov. 8, there). Those four teams — San Marcos, New Braunfels, Wagner and Canyon — figure to be a playoff race among themselves for the other two berths. Whichever team wins all three in the round-robin among them will go to the playoffs. Probably, if you win two, you’re in, and the Rattlers have two of them to play after Halloween.
The key thing is that, for all the bad times in recent years for the Rattlers, it’s sensible now to see them having a chance to go to the playoffs. Call it 50-50, even. They’ve won some games here, and there’s an expectation that they can win more. And every time they win another one, they thankfully push recent seasons further into the past.
A couple other numbers from the Express-News
… Rattlers quarterback Tucker Smith is fourth in the district in pass attempts (73), but second in completions (48). His completion percentage of 65.75 leads the district. With 530 passing yards, he ranks fourth. Smithson Valley quarterback Garrett Smith led the league with 745 passing yards through three weeks, completing 47 of 74 passes (63.51 percent) for seven touchdowns and no interceptions … Garrett Smith also leads the district in rushing, with 495 yards in 59 attempts. All that was before Thursday night’s drubbing of Madison, during which Smith threw for 222 yards and two touchdowns (no interceptions) while running for 129 yards and one touchdown. You might say he’s the best offensive player in the district. … However, Smithson Valley running back Cameron Jones is a presence, as well. He was second in the league with 395 rushing yards through three weeks, and he added another 152 rushing yards against Madison … Canyon running back Gibreel Evans was third in the district with 355 rushing yards, followed by San Marcos running back Jonoah Fabian with 292 rushing yards … The Rattlers’ Zach Sterling and New Braunfels’ Austin Orgeron are tied with the most catches in the district with 20. However, the most receiving yardage through three weeks belonged to Smithson Valley’s Joseph Barsalou with 339 yards in 19 catches, 17.8 yards per catch. Sterling has 206 receiving yards, 10.3 yards per catch.