O’Connor has plenty of reason to feel slighted on its magical 13-0 run to the Region IV Final against Lake Travis on Saturday at the Alamodome. Despite non-district victories over 6A-Division II Regional finalist Cibolo Steele.
If you are a new staff at a college football program, you might want to be on the sidelines at 4 p.m. at the Alamodome this Saturday. There will be an All-American Game in the same building that may not garner as much attention as some of the unheralded prospects on the field turf in the doubleheader.
In the 6A-I final, unbeaten O’Connor will take on Lake Travis for the right to advance to the state semifinal. O’Connor is running on a “best in school history” stretch as it finished unbeaten in the regular season for the first time and went to No. 1 in the city polls for the first time anybody could recall. Lake Travis is one of the schools that invented the textbook on how to operate for games at Jerry’s World in Arlington.
Despite winning all 13 games, one over a district that had six teams with a combined record of 16-2 in non-district play with the other being its opponent in the Region final over Steele, O’Connor has not been getting much ink around the Lone Star State much like Smithson Valley and Converse Judson received all year long.
O’Connor disposed of 8-2 Schertz Clemens, 9-3 Reagan, and previously unbeaten San Benito en route to its battle with Lake Travis, which ended the season for Converse Judson in round two despite the Rockets being loaded with Power 5 level recruiting talent and a Top 10 Associated Press ranking all season long.
The star of the show is Roel Sanchez, who would be at the front of a busload of thirty-seven or so 5’11 and 165-pound quarterbacks who play really well on Friday nights. Sanchez’s stat stuffing senior season has rolled up 2,259 passing yards and 26 touchdowns and is 16 yards short of 1,000 rushing yards along with 21 touchdowns.
For a huge sleeper, check out wide receiver Jalen Hughes. Hughes has been stellar this season and is one of the most underrated prospects in the San Antonio area. Hughes has 50 catches for over 900 yards and 10 touchdowns this season. Also on defense watch out for safety Millard Bradford, who has FBS level talent.
A few names that will be on future recruiting boards is junior offensive tackle Brannon Brown and sophomore defensive tackle Pryson Greer.
On paper Lake Travis is in a massive down year, if you can believe that. Although that is obviously not true and said jokingly, the Cavaliers have been running their system en route to an 11-2 mark with losses coming to Converse Judson to open the season and later to the other 6A-Division II regional finalist, Austin Westlake.
Lake Travis has recent Ohio State offer Matthew Baldwin at quarterback, with an impressive stat sheet running one of the most effective offenses in the country ran by another FBS prospect at quarterback. Garrett Gilbert, Baker Mayfield, and Baylor walk-on starter Charlie Brewer are out of the system. Baldwin has thrown for 3,367 yards and 41 touchdowns at a 71.1 percent completion rate, compared to just six interceptions.
Junior Garrett Wilson is on the radar of Texas and Alabama in the recruiting world, and leads the Cavaliers with 75 catches for 1,425 yards and 23 touchdowns. Sophomore Hudson Card also went over 1,000 yards and comes into the Region IV final with 54 catches for 1,004 yards and 12 scores.
What do the six stars on the logo mean? Six state championships with its first for the other hand coming last season behind Brewer.
The Region IV 6A-Division II final will kick off at 8:00 p.m. following the Division I final which features 9-4 Cibolo Steele and unbeaten Austin Westlake.
Meanwhile, Westlake is averaging 67.7 points per game in three playoff wins over MacArthur (62-14), District 27-6A champion Smithson Valley (51-31), with a 70-14 rout of Edinburg Vela to move on to the Alamodome to face Cibolo Steele, who started the season 1-4.
Westlake’s main offensive weapon is Wisconsin verbal Nakia Watson, who has amassed 1,697 yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground while also coming up with six touchdown reception on the season. Five-foot-11, 170-pound junior quarterback Taylor Anderson has thrown for 2,607 yards and 31 touchdowns while adding another 1,000 yards and 12 scores on the ground.
The entire time Steele was 1-4, it never dropped below No. 5 in the 210 Eleven rankings. Even at the time, we hinted Steele still was in line to get to Arlington with four losses. The Knights have responded pretty much as expected having won eight straight games with a freshman quarterback.
Perhaps it is unfair to give full credit to quarterback Wyatt Begeal for the sudden resurgence. Onyx Smith, a Bowling Green commit, started the season in shotgun for the Knights. For whatever reason, it never clicked and did not work out as anticipated. Smith played well at times, but his value was needed at wide receiver more than at quarterback, so the decision was made.
Offensive lineman Charley Zeno and defensive end Juan Henry Jr. could benefit from big games in the recruiting department. as both prospects are searching for their first FBS offer. Henry Jr. may have an offer from New Mexico State, which has not been confirmed.
Having a running back with 1,835 yards and 25 total touchdowns on the ground in only 12 games helps, as is the situation with Rice verbal Brenden Brady. Brady left last week’s 36-21 victory over Weslaco East. Brady has three 200-yard games this season, including during his own season opener against Lake Travis in a losing effort. Brady has been the go-to man on offense for Steele without question.
On defense, Steele features three Division I commits in the defensive backfield in US Army All-American Bowl honoree Caden Sterns (Texas), Jay’Veon Cardwell (Oklahoma State), and J.T. Woods (Baylor).