Converse Judson set foot on Cibolo Steele’s side of town Friday night, not only to gain control of district 27-6A but gain its first victory against its powerhouse neighbor.
In case you aren’t familiar the Judson Rockets, they’re the winningest high school program in Texas, with 39 straight winning seasons. They’ve won six titles and reached the semifinals eighteen times. Despite all their success, Judson has never beaten Cibolo Steele.
Judson Head Coach Sean McAuliffe acknowledged this before the game saying, “(The game) Typically comes down to a play or two that makes a difference in the game. Win, lose, or draw you know you were in a dogfight. Their kids (Steele) play hard, execute well, and have a knack of finding a way to make a big play when one is needed. Direct reflection of the coaching they receive.”
Head Coach Scott Lehnhoff of Steele said regarding the rivalry, “Playing Judson has always been super competitive. We have been fortunate to come out on the winning end, but several of those years could have easily gone the other way. I have enormous respect for the Judson community and Coach McAulliffe. Sean is a friend of mine, he is a tremendous coach and mentor to young people. We compete for one week out of the year and then usually end up cheering for one another throughout our playoff runs.”
Both teams came in tonight at mid-season form and tested, having already played some stiff competition. When asked about Judson, Coach Lehnhoff said, “They are so talented everywhere. Definitely start with Julon Williams offensively. Dynamic player with arm and feet. They have a stable of backs that keep coming at you as well. Defensively, their 3 down-lineman are big, explosive players and their team speed defensively is hard to match.”
As the game began, the stands were reduced to standing room only and folks around here sid that this was the most people ever at Lehnhoff stadium. While attendance numbers were not available, some predicted upwards of 12,000. Needless to say the atmosphere was incredible and prime for top level football.
The Rockets kicked off to the Knights to begin the game. Steele is without its Texas Tech QB commit Xavier Martin (game time decision) who before the game said “I respect that they have so many sophomore defensive players and their defense is still so dominant.” With QB Cody Massey at the helm, the Knights drove down the field with virtual ease. They completed a few third downs, but fell short of the end zone, and kicked a 22yd field goal off the leg of Mathew O’Brien to take the lead 3-0. Field goals would prove to be a valuable commodity in the first half for both teams. On Judson’s first possession star signal caller Julon Williams would complete his first pass, but the offense would be forced to punt.
Throughout the first quarter both team’s defensive lines shone and held the high powered offenses to minimal numbers. The second quarter added a bit more flair as the Rockets faced a third and six, and Julon Williams was intercepted by Steele’s JayVeon Cardwell and brought down on Judson’s 10yd line. The following play Cody Massey completed a pitch and catch to WR C.J. Williams for the game’s first TD making it 10-3.
Conservative play calling led to grinding drives down the field, ending with an eventual punt for both teams. A positive from the low scoring affair was the running back random of Travell Lumpkin and Brenden Brady for the Knights, who persevered against a stout Rocket defensive line and grinded out most of the yards.
At the half it was a 13-3 ball game with Steele on top.
After receiving the second half kickoff, Julon Williams was swarmed in the backfield and the Rockets were forced to punt on their first drive. Steele turned around and got a much needed long run by Brenden Brady deep into Judson territory. Once again unable to put the ball in the end zone, Cibolo settled for a field goal, making it 16-3 Steele. Judson got a little momentum in the third with a touchdown, but it ended up not being enough to mount a comeback.
Early in the fourth the Knights scored the game winning blow as the Steele defense stopped Judson mid-field on fourth down, giving the Knights possession. On the very next play Steele’s Massey hit WR C.J. Williams for a 65 yd dime, making it 23-9. The Knights officially put the game away with a pick-six with 5:16 left on the clock. Steele remained unbeaten in the cross town rivalry.
After the game, an emotional Lehnhoff praised his defense “They played lights out and gave us every chance. Judson had a ton of red zone opportunities and didn’t get anything. Turnovers proved too costly and we benefitted”
When asked about his backup QB, Lehnhoff continued his praise “What a job and what a testament to people everywhere. He’s behind Xavier for two years never knowing when his number is going to be called and was ready. He didn’t even know until as recent as we walked in today. He was prepared and focused.”
Injured QB Xavier Martin was all smiles saying “I’m so proud of him (Massey).”
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