PRAIRIE VIEW – Whether it was coming back from a 29-0 deficit at home last week against Round Rock Westwood or losing a heartbreaker on the road against Spring Westfield, one thing has remained a constant.
The San Marcos community, who filled San Marcos Toyota Rattler Stadium the week before for a big come-from-behind Bi-District playoff win, was there on the road on Saturday afternoon well after the season came to an end via a 47-3 loss to Spring Westfield.
Traveling two hours away just days after Thanksgiving didn’t stop Rattlers fans from filling the away side of Panther Stadium with enough purple to make it seem like a home game for Prairie View A&M.
“It means the world. The 12th man means something to us,” San Marcos head coach Mark Soto said. “Those guys up there bring us energy. They did a great job all day long cheering us on.”
San Marcos’ defense, dubbed the “killer smurfs,” limited Westfield’s big-play offense early as both teams were unable to find the end zone in the first quarter.
Westfield got into the red zone when senior running back Edwin Allen rushed down to the six-yard line, but a false start followed by a Josh Banda sack of junior quarterback Terrance Gipson forced the Mustangs to settle for a field goal in the opening minute of the second quarter.
Minutes later, it was Banda again who broke up a run in the backfield on first and goal that stalled a Westfield drive that ended in another field goal.
On the Mustangs’ next possession, Gipson delivered a 64-yard touchdown strike to Noah Massey to build up a 13-point cushion.
On the offensive end, San Marcos looked to get the passing game going early, but a heavy Mustang pass rush, and a defensive line featuring four-star Texas commit Keandre Coburn posed an imposing challenge.
With all-district junior running back Jamon Johnson limited due to injury, and with the Mustang defense zeroed in on senior quarterback Prudy Calderon, offensive yardage and extended drives were hard to come by.
San Marcos’ best opportunity to get into the end zone came after a Tristan Williams fumble recovery, which was followed by a pair of consecutive 15-yard defensive penalties on Westfield. After a short run by Calderon, a Collin Ramos run from one yard away was stuffed by Coburn, forcing the Rattlers to kick a field goal to end the half.
Westfield scored within the first minute of the second half and never looked back.
For San Marcos, it was just their second loss in a season of many firsts, including the first district championship in 14 years and most victories in 17.
This was the second Soto-led team to get to the area round in three years, but the first in 6A.
“It’s gonna hurt. I can’t stop that for you but I can tell you it’ll get better because I’ve been there before,” Soto told his team after Saturday’s loss. “As you start to reflect on the year, you’re going to reflect on all those great things that we’ve done. You will remember that, you will remember those comebacks. Most of all though, what you’re going to remember is the time you spent with each other. That’s what’s going to fill you with joy on the inside.”
“Teams are going to come and go,” Soto added. “Your team will stay solidified forever in your memory and in your soul because you gave so much out there.”
It’s clear after Saturday – after seeing Rattler supporters show up in droves to send their team off the morning of the game, and the ones in the stands draped in purple, that this 2017 Rattlers team will stay solidified in the memories of many more than the coaches and players that were on the field Saturday afternoon.
Note: 25 San Marcos High School players were named All-District for 14-6A today. We’ll take a closer look at those selections this week.