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District 27-6A Season Preview

insoles to jump higher



It’s a district that contains two of the most well-known programs in the San Antonio area. And one of them may be back as a legit state title contender.

Plus with one team ineligible for the playoffs, it’s a five-way battle for four playoff spots. Who will be the unlucky one left at home during the bi-district round?

Here’s what to watch in District 27-6A.

Cibolo Steele Knights

Head Coach: David Saenz (7th Season)

Last Season: 11-1; 5-0 in district (Lost to Lake Travis in area round)

Cibolo Steele Key Players and Storylines

Watch out. Cibolo Steele might be back.

The Knights return five starters on each side of the ball, but they also added several key transfers during the offseason.

Cibolo Steele averaged 38 points per game a year ago with a sophomore quarterback. Chad Warner (2,436 passing yards) is back to lead the Knights again after throwing for 23 touchdowns a year ago. He’ll also have his favorite target from a year ago in Royal Capell (767 receiving yards and six touchdowns)..

The Knights have also added a two-headed monster in the backfield. Junior Samuel Harris (699 rushing yards and five touchdowns) transferred in from California while Jonathan Hatton Jr. (210 rushing yards and two touchdowns) played for Brandeis as a freshman last year.

Defensively, the Knights have a future SEC-led secondary in Vanderbilt commits corner Alvin Williamson Jr. (32 tackles and two interceptions) and safety Dontae Carter (63 tackles and seven interceptions).

In the trenches, look for defensive lineman Jacob King (63 tackles and 19 TFLs) to be a fixture in opponents backfield.

The Knights have had back-to-back undefeated regular seasons. But they feel this group could be even more special. The Knight coaching staff has loved the work ethic they have seen out of their players, and they believe that could be the key to a deep playoff run this fall.

Clemens Buffaloes

Head Coach: Jared Johnston (12th Season)

Last Season: 4-6; 1-4 in district

Clemens Key Players and Storylines

It has been four years since Clemens last reached the playoffs. However, two of Clemens’ four district losses came by four points or less.

This season, the Buffaloes return 13 of their starters from last year’s team (six on offense and seven on defense).

They have a promising backfield with a three-year starter at quarterback in Nathan Alvarez (1,637 passing yards and 15 touchdowns), and a promising running back in Joshua Jackson (275 rushing yards, 285 receiving yards and four touchdowns). Jackson switched over to the backfield from defensive back halfway through last season.

Another defensive back poised to be a threat for the Clemens offense is receiver Paul Mencke (298 total yards and three touchdowns). He’ll be needed as Braden Avington is the lone returner in the receiving corps.

But Mencke will still make his living defensively. He’s committed to Duke as a safety and finished with 72 tackles and three interceptions last year. Joining him in the secondary is fellow three-year starter Cameron Owens (25 tackles), returning starter Zavion Jordan (25 tackles one FF), and speedster Damien Robinson (22 tackles and two interceptions).

In the front seven, defensive end Russell Yalowsky is a three-sport athlete for the Buffaloes, while Oscar Zuniga was an all-district linebacker in 2022.

One wild card the Buffaloes have is on special teams. Both punter Kaden Turner and kicker Ethan Brumgard (long of 49 yards) have Power Five offers.

The cupboard is certainly full at Clemens. The Buffaloes will need to stay healthy and find a way to finish close games as they look to get over the hump in 2023.

Converse Judson Rockets

Head Coach: Mark Soto (2nd Season)

Last Season: 5-7; 2-3 in district (Lost to Vandegrift in area round)

Judson Key Players and Storylines

Judson hopes to be turning the corner under second-year head coach Mark Soto.

This season, the Rockets return junior quarterback Elijah Favela (2,505 passing yards and 22 touchdowns) and a three-year starter at running back in Nathaniel Stanley (1,178 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns).

That backfield will need to be the focal point for Judson early on as the Rockets have to replace their top four receivers from a year ago.

Defensively, last year’s leading tackler is back in linebacker Jaiden Haygood (130 tackles and 14 TFLs). Texas A&M commit safety Myles Davis (38 tackles and four interceptions) will be a ballhawk in the backend of the Rocket defense.

In the trenches, Zhakius Thomas is back after earning second team all-district honors last year.

Soto is a 1991 Judson graduate. In his four years he was at Judson, the Rockets won 51 games. Soto will hope to see a leap from his Rockets in his second year at the helm as Judson looks to restore itself as one of the top programs in San Antonio and in the state.

East Central Hornets

Head Coach: Joe Hubbard (8th Season)

Last Season: 3-7; 1-4 in district

East Central Key Players and Storylines

East Central broke through with its first playoff berth in six years in 2021. However, the Hornets weren’t able to keep the momentum going last season. Their lone district victory came by forfeit after Judson fielded an ineligible player.

The Hornets don’t have a ton of returning experience with three starters back on offense and four returning on defense.

They’ll rely heavily on athletic quarterback Austin Vivier, who can also play receiver. He led the Hornets in rushing last year as well.

East Central will be doing some rebuilding at the skill positions after being gutted by graduation, but it does return Jose Pina and David Almanza on the offensive line. Almanza was a first team all-district selection a year ago.

On the other side of the ball, the Hornets have leaders at all three levels in defensive tackle William Viator, linebacker Myron Robinson, and defensive back Kaleb Ramos.

Head coach Joe Hubbard thinks his team’s speed will be one of its biggest strengths this year. After losing three district games by 21 points or more, including the Judson game which finished 44-0 on the field, Hubbard said the first step for his team will be simply giving themselves a shot at victories. In order to do that, they’ll need to find a way to still be in games in the fourth quarters.

The overall goal is the playoffs for the Hornets, but they must grow up quick. How quickly they settle in their new starters will determine how history looks back on their 2023 season.

New Braunfels Unicorns

Head Coach: Glenn Mangold (10th Season)

Last Season: 8-4; 4-1 in district (Lost to Westlake in area round)

New Braunfels Key Players and Storylines

New Braunfels has won playoff games for back-to-back years for the first time since 2006 and 2007. The issue is the Unicorns have run into the Westlake machine in the area round in each of those years.

New Braunfels returns six starters on offense and four on defense this year.

Its offense has quite the trio leading the way in quarterback Leighton Adams (2,409 passing yards and 28 touchdowns), running back Tyree Johnson (838 rushing yards and eight touchdowns), and receiver Lance Beeghley (838 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns). All three led the Unicorns at their respective positions a year ago.

Defensively, there are some more gaps to fill. New Braunfels’ seven leading tacklers all graduated, meaning some players will have to grow up quick.

Unicorns head coach Glenn Mangold likes what he has coming back in the trenches in Brody Maresh (45 tackles, three TFLs) and Jarron Gomez (33 tackles, two TFLs). In the secondary, D’andre Davis (41 tackles) should lead the way.

The goal for New Braunfels this year is to clear the area round hurdle. It won’t be easy with one of Westlake and Lake Travis possibly standing in its way, but a win over Denton Ryan a year ago showed the Unicorns have what it takes to compete with some of the state’s elite programs.

San Marcos Rattlers

Head Coach: John Walsh (4th Season)

Last Season: 4-7; 2-3 in district (Lost to Brandeis in bi-district)

San Marcos Key Players and Storylines

San Marcos heads into 2023 in an odd spot. The Rattlers are ineligible for the playoffs due to recruiting violations.

Still, San Marcos head coach John Walsh and company will be playing full of pride looking to finish the regular season with as many wins as possible.

The Rattler backfield will have some new faces after the graduation of its starting quarterback and running back.

Texas State baseball commit Kutter Gage Webb (232 passing yards and three touchdowns) appears to be in line to take over the starting quarterback role. He’ll have Tony Diaz (604 receiving yards and five touchdowns), the Rattlers leading receiver from last year, to help him settle into the full-time role.

He’ll also have arguably the best offensive lineman in the district protecting him in LSU commit tackle Ory Williams.

Defensively, the Rattlers graduated the majority of their defensive leaders from a year ago. Senior defensive lineman Logan Luna will be one of the players the Rattlers rely on this season on that side of the ball.

San Marcos may not be able to make the playoffs this year, but that won’t make the Rattlers an easy out. Its senior class will want to do its best to make this a year to remember.



CLICK HERE to listen to the Texas HS Football Podcast, with Taylor Arenz

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