On Friday, I was at Bob Benson ’66 stadium as the Central Catholic Buttons hosted the St. Anthony Yellow Jackets.
Last year, I was going to cover the Antonian Apaches VS the Central Catholic Buttons (primarily because I wanted to experience Bob Benson ’66 Stadium for the 1st time and also I really wanted to see the senior running back, Daniel Rosenfeld, for Antonian). In 2014, against Central Catholic, Rosenfeld had 38 carries for 367 yards with 6 touchdowns. By far, that was the best individual performance I have ever seen in a high school football game (and, I have been involved with San Antonio high school football since 1997). Well, in that 2015 game, Rosenfeld didn’t play. Now, that is not the reason why I chose to cover another game that night. I actually didn’t know of his status. I am a freelance writer and photographer and decided a few days before that I wanted to cover Lee and MacArthur (because both teams featured prolific passing quarterbacks). Well, the Lee and MacArthur game was a shoot-out with Lee winning by a score of 59 to 57. The Lee quarterback had 233 passing yards with 3 touchdowns and the MacArthur quarterback had 362 passing yards with 2 touchdowns. Oh, each team also had a running back and wide receiver with over 100 yards. I am glad I changed my schedule because that game was one of my favorites last season.
I promise I am done writing about Lee, MacArthur, and the red school of Antonian.
I covered St. Anthony games this year at St. Gerard, Wheatley Heights, TMI, and Central Catholic. I also worked 2 games at Lang field, the home for St. Anthony. And, for each of those stadiums, it was my first visit to them and I can finally cross them all of my unpublished list of stadiums I wanted to visit!!!
When I arrived at Central Catholic, I was surprised to see a bunch of tailgaters and food trucks. I wish I could’ve gotten some FREE food samples from them because everything smelled delicious. Hmm, maybe next year, I can add a food review for high school football games, but not of the concession stands. I don’t think I have ever seen a more enthusiastic student section than I did for Central Catholic. The stadium itself was very nice as their was plenty of seating for both teams and the press-box was not fancy by any means, but adequate. When the game ended, none of the Central Catholic fans left…they were enjoying the food and live music!!!
I did a halftime interview for Mark Thomas, who is the voice of St. Anthony football. Would you believe that that was only my 3rd time doing an interview; one was on TV for my Alamo Stadium renovation photos.
This would be the final game for the Yellow Jackets and I know that they wanted to end with a victory which would give them 7 wins for the season. That would be an absolutely remarkable feat as it hasn’t happened since 2005. And, Kevin Smisek, the head football coach, is only in his 1st year as a football coach. He has my vote for Coach of the Year.
Coach Smisek told Mark Thomas in the pre-game show interview, “We talked all season about changing the culture and mentality of the program and I think we have done that. We got a lot of respect throughout the city especially after the Antonian game, lost a little after the Brownsville St. Joseph game, and hopefully tonight we can get that back. I told my team that this isn’t about playing for respectability or playing our last game, we play to win just like we do every game. That is our game plan and that is what we are focused on. We have to be really good tonight to do that; we had a really good week of practice and we are ready for the Buttons.”
For the seniors on the St. Anthony team, it is likely the last time they will play football. It’s a shame that college recruiters don’t visit the smaller schools. They are missing out on a lot of talent. If I cover St. Anthony football next year, I would love to help the seniors by promoting them as much as I possibly can.
For all the underclassmen on the St. Anthony football team, they will take what Coach Smisek has built and expand it big time. One of the assistant coaches told the team, “NEXT YEAR BEGINS NOW” as they were going to the locker room before the 1st quarter started.
I have a feeling that because of the success the team had, more St. Anthony students will try out for the football team and who knows, maybe a player on another team will want to play for them as well.
It will be interesting to see what Coach Smisek does during the off-season to help his players prepare for next season. I would love to hang with him and the rest of his fantastic coaching staff and document what happens.
For St. Anthony, this was the final game of the season. If Central Catholic wins the game against St. Anthony, they will be the District champions as they have already defeated Antonian and Brownsville St. Joseph. I knew the Buttons would come out firing on all cylinders, but I also knew that St. Anthony wouldn’t allow that to happen.
At Halftime, Central Catholic led St. Anthony by a score of 13 to 0. St. Anthony, despite not scoring, was only down 2 scores!!!
The first drive of the 3rd quarter is always extremely important for both teams. St. Anthony got the ball 1st and less than a minute later, Kyle Davila, a junior, scored an 83 yard rushing touchdown. WOW!!! Just like that, St. Anthony trailed 13 to 7. We got a game!!! You could feel the mojo on the St. Anthony side-line!!! I smell an upset brewing!!! Well, Central Catholic didn’t smell anything and they scored a touchdown with less than 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd.
After 3 quarters, St. Anthony trailed Central Catholic by a score of 20 to 7. Still just down 2 scores!!!
Olin Vining, III, the senior running back for St. Anthony cut the deficit to 20 to 14 as he scored on a 5 yard run with less than 4 minutes left in the game. Olin has been the offensive leader all season for St. Anthony. Central Catholic answered that with 2 more late touchdowns to give them the win and the District championship. The final score was Central Catholic 34 and St. Anthony 14.
St. Anthony finishes the season with a record of 6 wins and 4 losses and they were 0 and 3 in district. I am so proud of the team and everything they have accomplished. I can’t wait to see what happens next for the football team.
At one point during the game, St. Anthony was down to the 3rd string quarterback. Unlike the larger football programs, most of the St. Anthony players play on defense, offense, and special teams. The starting quarterback had cramps and his back-up took a hard hit. I, along with the coaching staff was looking to see who would go in at quarterback. At first, I thought it may be Olin Vining, III, but it was actually Victor Castillo, a junior. And, he looked very comfortable in that position.
Olin Vining, III, had 26 carries for 80 yards. For the season, he had 1,444 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns. Kyle Davila, a junior, had 5 carries for 99 yards with 1 touchdown.
It was a very surreal moment when the game ended as I saw several St. Anthony football players taking pictures with their teammates. I mean, this could be the last time they see each other on the football field as life happens. Although I am Facebook friends with several of my high school classmates, I have only seen a few in person since graduation in 1995 (yes, I am that old).
Here are some photos from the game:
If you want to see all of my photos from the St. Anthony/Central Catholic game, please visit: https://thestatmanspeaks.smugmug.com/St-Anthony-Yellow-Jackets/Football/St-Anthony-at-Central-Catholic/.
Even though the season is officially over for St. Anthony and me, I will have a St. Anthony wrap-up article when the 2016 Playoffs are over. If you want to help by contributing to it, please contact me at [email protected]
I could probably work whatever Playoff games I choose, but I will be very happy to stay at home with my wife and 6 month old son and enjoy watching them on Twitter. Hopefully, next year, I can get back on track to covering more football games.
You may see me at some St. Anthony basketball games this season, but I won’t be writing about them (I will only be a photographer).