The football players at San Marcos High School can take a bow. No, they haven’t really done anything, but what’s the harm in taking a bow?
The Rattlers rolled past an error prone Waco University team, 29-8, on the road Friday night, improving their 2013 record to 3-1. After now, this one can be put away: Three wins is more than the Rattlers achieved in the last three seasons combined. And they hadn’t won three in a single season since 2009.
So, this is the team that’s changing things, the team that’s ending the long interegnum that began after the 2004 season with the retirement of Bruce Bush, who arrived in 1997 and coached the Rattlers to local prominence after they had missed the playoffs for 30 straight years. Bush brought the Rattlers back with the deceptive slot-T offense that became so much part of their identity, even for years after he left. But times have changed, and the team’s identity has changed with them. The new man, second-year head coach Mark Soto, has the Rattlers in a multiple pistol, and now they’re throwing 25-30 times per game.
With the new attack, the Rattlers strike quickly. Quarterback Tucker Smith threw for 211 yards, which was more than University totaled in offense.
Considering that the Rattlers lost 43-12 to University in San Marcos last year, a close game in this one might have been predicted. But this new Rattlers team really showed how to take a game up to halftime, and nothing that occured after the intermission involved suspense.
Leading, 7-0, late in the first half, the Rattlers goofed themselves a bit with a six-yard punt, and University ended up with the ball at their 15. University went a little backwards, but hit a 23-yard touchdown pass from Byron Pyburn to Jordan Randolph, who also ran the two-point conversion to give University an 8-7 lead with 4:36 left in the second quarter.
And that was plenty of time for the Rattlers to take that blow, then retaliate with two more before halftime. Receiving the ball from the ensuing kickoff, the Rattlers blew back down field. With about two minutes left, Smith hit David Hamilton with a 30-yard touchdown pass. Smith threw to Mike Hernandez for the two-point conversion, and the Rattlers were back up, 15-8.
Then, University turned the ball over on its own 43, and the Rattlers did not allow that good deed to go unpunished. They punched to the goal quickly, with Jacob Champion running the final three yards for a touchdown. Kicking the point, the Rattlers held a 22-8 lead with seconds remaining in the first half.
As if by flipping a switch, the Rattlers, in one moment, all but gave University a touchdown and the lead, then just as quickly buried their foes under a two-touchdown deficit. The Rattlers kept with the pressure from the second-half kickoff, driving for a one-yard touchdown run by Jacob Mendoza to make it 29-8. In eight minutes after University took the lead, the Rattlers scored three touchdowns and the home team scarcely touched the ball.
By then, it was pretty clear University would not catch up. The Waco Tribune-Herald said University totaled fewer than 200 yards, and penalties docked the Trojans 85 more yards. University now has scored 30 points in three games.
So, the Rattlers have won these games they needed to win, so far, and they’ve brought themselves a long way. Now, they get to deal with four extremely challenging games, starting next Friday night at Bobcat Stadium against Steele, which is ranked fourth across Texas Class 5A by Texas Football. Friday night, Steele invited No. 12 Westlake down to Cibolo and whacked up its guests for a 49-21 win. The Rattlers will take a week off after Steele, then go to No. 18 Smithson Valley to open the District 25-5A season. Then it’s home against New Braunfels, then on the road against No. 14 Converse Judson.
So, the Rattlers will play three ranked teams in a span of four games. Unlike seasons of the recent past, we’ll wonder how they’ll come out.
The Wimberley Texans appear to have stumbled. Ranked No. 12 across Class 3A last week, the Texans lost at Dripping Springs, 41-36. So, their ranking in Texas Football fell to No. 22 this week. Friday night, they lost, at home, 31-16, to LaVernia. The Texans (2-2) have another tough one coming up next week at home against Liberty Hill … Dripping Springs demolished Crockett, 44-6, at Tiger Stadium. The Tigers are 2-2. Bobby Credeur and Harrison Dance led the Tigers with, respectively, 96 and 92 rushing yards … Hays (2-1) and Lehman (1-2) both took the week off. They will play each other next Friday at Bob Shelton Stadium in the District 27-4A opener for both teams … San Marcos Academy (0-3) also took the week off and will play next Friday against Regents in Austin …
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