Photo by Gerald Castillo
Rattlers prepare for district opener against Lake Travis
San Marcos has been in this position before.
It took the Rattlers a little bit longer to get into the win column this year but after a strong second half defensive effort last Friday, the purple and white scraped together their first win of the season, 28-16, against San Antonio East Central. Rewind to last year, when San Marcos (1-2) defeated Lockhart, 26-25, on a Hail Mary at the buzzer — one of the most exciting plays of the 2020 season. The team barely got to celebrate the first win of the John Walsh era before having to turn around and start district against then-ranked opponent Lake Travis .
Fast forward to this season and deja vu is peaking its head into the locker room as the Rattlers take on No. 10 Lake Travis (2-1) just one week removed from their first win of the season.
This time around might be different, though. Last week did something special for the snakes from San Marcos.
“I think the win just brought our whole confidence of the team up and we've all just kind of fed off each other,” starting junior quarterback Isaiah DeLeon said. “And I think that's going to carry us further into the year.”
Most of the Rattlers’ problems stem from their own self-driven problems and injuries to some of the key components of the team. In week one, it was senior defensive back and wide receiver Malik and Jamil Gordon, respectively, who went down with injuries as well as junior running back Jaidyn Brown. In the first series of week two, senior running back Kanui Guidry went down with a leg injury and DeLeon was forced to sit out the second half of the game. The Rattlers had two touchdowns rescinded due penalties in that game as well, which affected the outcome in the end. Offensive coordinator Lee Vallejo said it is imperative the Rattlers protect the ball against the Cavaliers.
“We can’t hurt ourselves. That's the biggest thing when we play teams like this. You can't turn the ball over, we can't be behind chains. When you're 3rd and 15, it's not in our favor, not against a team with that kind of front up there, which is a pretty talented front,” Vallejo added. “So, I think it's play by play and just take care of the ball, don't fumble it on the ground and don't turn the ball over.”
The main takeaways from the win last week were, when healthy, San Marcos can move the ball very effectively with its legs using the run game, which is a chance to keep that Cavalier offense off of the field. All three San Marcos running backs and DeLeon have scored on the ground. The Rattlers also have three rushing touchdowns in consecutive games thanks to junior Jacob Rodriguez-Scholz and Brown stepping in for the injured Guidry. Brown is coming off of the most electric performance of the season, putting up 209 yards and three touchdowns on 22 touches.
“We always knew J.B. (Brown) could do something special. We were excited for him and, we're glad he came back. You know, obviously whenever he goes out, you can tell how he's a big part of both sides the ball and J.B.’s got a big future ahead of him and we're excited because he could do a lot of things, especially on the offensive side of the ball, even defending also on that side of the ball. So we're excited for him,” Vallejo said. “No doubt about it. It was good stuff last week.”
It is going to take more than a replica of that to defeat a top-10 team coming off of its second loss in as many seasons. Lake Travis presents a defensive squad with 5.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss in three games, 11 players with 10 or more tackles and five forced fumbles. The team has only given up 114.33 rushing yards per game while allowing 35 points per game to their opposing teams — each of which made the playoffs last year.
The Cavaliers and Rattlers meet at San Marcos Toyota Rattler Stadium for the start of District 26-6A play on Friday at 7:30 p.m.