It has been a grueling 2016-17 season for many high schools around the San Antonio area.
For many, football has ended but to some, this is where the real season begins.
Cibolo Steele (9-1) and Converse Judson (8-2) are powerhouses in their own right, and are no strangers to the playoff picture nor state titles.
Coming out of what many believe to be one of, if not the hardest district to come out of in 27-6A, their quest for another title begins tonight.
For the Knights of Steele, they are hoping that Texas Tech commit Xavier Martin will carry them over a Brandeis team looking to score an upset of the Knights, ranked No. 1 in the San Antonio Express-News final rankings, and eighth in the state.
The Knights have a lot of momentum on their side as they were crowned District champions with a perfect 7-0 record. Their lone loss of the season came at the hands of powerhouse Lake Travis in the second week of the season.
They have since bounced back from the loss, and have played Knights football, behind dual-threat quarterback Martin and junior running back Brenden Brady.
In nine appearances, Martin has passed for 1,397 yards, completing 90 of his 149 attempts. He has also connected for 13 scores through the air and has just three interceptions.
As much as he gets it done through the air, he can also hurt a team with his feet. He has rushed for 487 yards on 74 carries and has accounted for six touchdowns.
If defenses key in on Martin, there is the danger of getting torched by a number of backs, led by Brady. Brady was 55 yards shy of reaching the 1,000 yard mark on the year.
He carries most of the load for the backs and, as you would expect is their leading rusher. In 10 games, he carried the ball 149 times and rushed for 945 yards while reaching the endzone 10 times.
Brandeis will have to keep their heads on a swivel when they face a Knights team that will basically be playing a home game at Lehnhoff Stadium on Friday night.
No stranger to the Knights are the Judson Rockets, who are looking to also ride their quarterback and slew of running backs deep into the playoffs. They will have to get by a stifling O’Connor Panthers team.
The Rockets have been rusty over the last two weeks, with their offense seemingly taking a step back from what we have seen through the course of the season.
Don’t let that fool you. This team can strike quickly and it will all depend on junior quarterback Julon Williams. Williams will need to orchestrate the offense and not try to do so much with his feet.
Though he is an explosive player, he does have a lot of talent that backs him as well, with Mi’Kel Jackson and sophomore Sincere McCormick rotating in and out of the backfield.
In eight games, Williams has passed for 1195 yards. He completed 75 of his 123 attempts. Also, he notched 10 touchdowns and threw six interceptions.
On the ground, he is the Rockets’ leading rusher with 697 yards on 104 carries and reached the endzone 12 times.
Having a mobile quarterback is huge for any team in the high school football. Williams’ six interceptions came on times when he was flushed out of the pocket and instead of running, he tried to make something happen through the air.
This is the time where he needs to limit his mistakes and trust the rest of the team.
Jackson and McCormick are two backs that combined have rushed for 1179 yards. Though Jackson has the bulk of the carries, McCormick has been used pretty often in recent games and has provided a spark for the Rockets.
Defensively, the Rockets have enough speed up front where penetration has caused opponents to rush into their plays forcing turnovers.
Junior linebacker Brody Stoepler leads the team with 94 tackles on the year and is the heart and sole of the Rockets defense. He will have to make sure the rest of his teammates are in their right spots against the Panthers.
Judson and O’Connor play at Farris Stadium. Both kickoffs are scheduled for 7:30 p.m.