- Photo via Ozzy Jaime, TexasHSFootball.com
The Cibolo Steele Knights only had the ball for 23 seconds in the third quarter.
In one of the most lopsided halves in terms of time of possession, the O’Connor Panthers kept the Knights defensive unit on their feet for 22:11 in the second half, limiting their opponents offense to 10 plays in a lopsided 42-30 victory.
The O’Connor offense line was a mastodon of bruising bodies, bullying a usually extraordinary Steele unit and beating down their confidence. Lead by guard Brannon Brown (6’5”, 300 lbs.) and tackle Logan Parr (6’3”, 275 lbs.), the o-line opened up gaping opportunities for the Panthers to account for 368 total yards.
After trailing 9-7 in the first quarter, O’Connor coach David Malesky decided to take a gamble on fourth and two; the results weren’t what he hoped: an immediate 100-yard interception touchdown was grabbed by JayVeon Cardwell — the third pick of the night. The Panthers got back up on their cleats when Millard Bradford hauled in a 76-yard kickoff return in response.
The Knights were hurt by penalties throughout the match. After being penalized eight times for 75 yards in last weeks loss to Lake Travis, Steele nearly equalled that total in the first half alone, suffering with seven penalties for 70 yards.
O’Connor made the Knights pay for allowing the game to remain so close in the second half. Malesky instructed his special teams unit to deliver an onside kick which lead to a 36-yard strike to Jalen Hughes for a touchdown. Steele running back Brenden Brady continued to make his case for the most talented player in Cibolo: The Panther’s lead lasted for all of two plays, in which Brady hauled in a kickoff return, quickly rushed in for a score and then added a two point conversion to take the lead at 24-21.
Coach Malesky ordered another successful onside kick which eventually led to a 12-yard throw to take the lead, further emphasized when Sanchez scrambled for a seven yard score following a 48-yard drive. The Knights — now frustrated by a team accomplished on both sides of the field — managed a 48-yard bomb to Daniel Jackson, but failed to convert off of that. Sanchez put the nail in the Steele coffin with a 22-yard touchdown jaunt.
It’s rare to select a player that had three picks as the best player of the game, but the O’Connor quarterback shook off the rust of a tough start, finishing with 178 yards passing for two scores through the air, along with 108 yards rushing and four scores on the ground. Sanchez had to conquer one of the state’s top secondaries; three of Steele’s defensive backs are committed to Big 12 schools (Caden Sterns, JayVeon Cardwell, J.T. Woods), and the O’Connor senior made them look gassed and inexperienced by the final score.
The O’Connor Panthers are now 3-0 for the first time ever and are averaging nearly 45 points per game. Only Judson stands in the way as the largest threat to the San Antonio crown.
Cibolo Steele falls to 1-2 for the first time since the 2010 season, where they went on to win the state title against Denton Guyer.
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