San Marcos head football coach Mark Soto knew the Judson Rockets were coming and welcomed the challenge when realignment placed the Rattlers in one of the toughest districts in the state.
Even after losing a large senior class and many starters, several of which are now playing college football around the state, Soto liked the idea of being in a district with the likes of Judson, Cibolo Steele, Schertz Clemens, and Smithson Valley even in a transition year.
His Rattlers had the same attitude when they took the field on Friday night, and even in a losing effort, Soto looked as proud as he has when his teams have made huge comebacks for victories.
“I thought they fought the whole night,” Soto said. “They looked them in the eye and they said ‘let’s go, we’re not scared and we’re going to fight our tails off.'”
Judson, who was 3-0 and ranked number five in the state coming into tonight’s game, coming off a big 58-21 win over Steele, is loaded with FBS prospects. Their quick-strike ability was apparent early as they put up 20 points each in the first two quarters.
The Rockets, known for their three-headed rushing attack, threw two incomplete passes to start off the first drive of the game. On 3rd and 10, with San Marcos’ secondary keeping the receivers at bay, quarterback Mike Chandler II hit Amarea Bailey-Davis with a screen pass that Bailey-Davis took 69 yards for the Judson touchdown.
After a three and out by the Rattlers, Judson extended their drive, and this time it was Chandler who elected to keep it and run it in 26 yards.
The Rockets got several other offensive players involved throughout. Midway through the second quarter, the Rattlers extended a drive, but an incomplete on a 3rd and 6th forced them to point, however, the special teams unit was able to down the punt at the one-yard line.
Chandler was pressured in his own end zone and was nearly sacked, but on 3rd and 10, still on the one, he found Rashad Wisdom for a 90-yard pass. But the Rattlers defense came up big yet again. With the Rockets nine yards away from the end zone, the defense limited Judson to two short running plays and an incomplete pass on 3rd down.
The Rockets were set to attempt an 11-yard field goal but a loose ball and a scoop by Judson resulted in a touchback call by the officials.
Down 27-0, the Rattlers again came close to trying to swing momentum. Kannon Webb picked off Chandler, but two penalties resulted in offsetting penalties, which meant a replay of first down. Two plays later, Judson was in the end zone again.
Altogether, the Rockets rattled off six unanswered touchdowns until they were forced to punt for the first time late in the third quarter.
Even down 47 points in the fourth quarter, true to their coach’s word, San Marcos kept fighting, and Cameron Vidrine delivered a 37-yard strike to Mhyson Williams for the Rattler touchdown.
Soto, who knows Judson well, having played for two state championship Rockets teams and serving as an assistant coach before being hired in San Marcos said the loss to Judson should help the Rattlers prepare for the rest of the district schedule.
“Without a doubt, if you play great opponents they get you ready,” Soto said. “It’s always good mixing it up with your old team, but at the end of the day it’s about the kids and I’m proud of our Rattlers.”
Judson’s Chandler led all passers, going 10-of-15 for 311 yards and two touchdowns. Wisdom finished with 107 all-purpose yards and Sincere McCormick had 92.
For the Rattlers, Jamon Johnson was limited to 25 yards rushing, as an imposing defensive line, including four-star prospect DeMarvin Leal, focused on stopping the run.
San Marcos (1-3) heads into a bye week before they play on the road against Cibolo Steele. Judson (4-0) also has a bye before they take on the New Braunfels Unicorns on October 11.
Check back for a full gallery of game photos later this weekend.