With the high school football regular season winding up this week, fans across the San Antonio area have their pick of watching some intriguing matchups with playoff implications.
The big game this week will be the showdown between Brennan and Brandeis, both 9-0, for the District 27-6A championship. The Bears and Broncos each went 4-0 in 27-6A zone play to reach the title game, scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at Farris Stadium.
Brennan is No. 1 in the KENS 5 Super 10 Rankings and Brandeis is No. 2. Both teams already have clinched berths in the Class 6A Division II playoffs, with the winner of Thursday night’s game earning the district’s top seed.
“We expect a very large crowd,” Northside ISD athletic director Stan Laing said Wednesday. “With it being a Thursday night game, will that have an impact (on the crowd)? Possibly. The weather? Possibly. But the die-hard fans, I guarantee you, are going to be there.”
A crowd estimated at 10,000 jammed into Farris Stadium to watch the Brandeis-O’Connor game two weeks ago.
No. 3 Steele (8-1, 5-0) has clinched the 25-6A title and is headed to the Division II playoffs, and No. 7 Smithson Valley (6-3, 4-1) and No. 10 Judson (5-4, 4-1) are deadlocked for the runner-up spot heading into their clash Friday night. Both will advance to the Division I playoffs.
Steele, which has won 27 consecutive district games, will play either MacArthur or Johnson in the first round of the playoffs. The Smithson Valley-Judson winner opens the Division I postseason against 26-5A runner-up Churchill, and the loser gets 26-5A champ Reagan.
Clemens (4-5, 2-3) can earn 25-6A’s fourth-place playoff spot with a win over New Braunfels (2-7, 1-4) on Friday night. But New Braunfels, tied with N.B. Canyon for fifth, probably would make the playoffs with a victory against the Buffaloes because Canyon is a long shot against Steele.
District 27-6A is composed exclusively of 10 Northside ISD schools. The NISD opted to split 27-6A into two zones after Brandeis moved up to the UIL’s largest classification this year, raising the number of schools in the district from nine to 10.
“It was really a process that started way back when we anticipated the UIL would make us a 10-team district when it came out with the 2014 realignment,” Laing said. “We talked to all 10 of our head football coaches and discussed the pros and cons of going to zones, and we concluded that the pros outweighed the cons.
“The big thing is that it gave our teams an opportunity to play a competitive non-district schedule and a chance to develop before going into district play. If we had played like a traditional 10-team district, we would have had only one nondistrict game and then immediately gone into district play.”
Brennan competed in the UIL’s second-largest classification, formerly 4A, in its first four seasons and lost in the 4A Division I state final last year.
The UIL renumbered all six of its classifications after the 2013-14 school year, with 5A becoming 6A, 4A becoming 5A, 3A becoming 4A, etc. Six-man football became the UIL’s new Class 1A.
Two other 27-6A playoff games Friday night will determine the district’s other two playoff teams.
Zone A runner-up Stevens (6-3, 3-1) will play Zone B third-place team Clark (4-5, 2-2) at Gustafson Stadium, and Zone B runner-up O’Connor (6-2, 3-1) meets Zone A third-place finisher Warren (4-5, 2-2) at Farris Stadium. Both games kick off at 7:30.
“Another thing going to zones has done is create a little more excitement in our communities toward the end of the season,” Laing said. “It’s given our teams an opportunity to play for something later in the year.
“Every year it always comes down to the last week, but without question, it’s a little different this season. Those two Friday night games are play-in games. The winners make the playoffs.”
District 27-6A goes up against 28-6A in the first round of the playoffs. There is a three-way tie between Corpus Christi Carroll (8-1, 3-1), East Central (5-4, 3-1) and Southwest (5-4, 3-1) for first in 28-6A going into the final week of the regular season.
Southwest, which beat East Central, can win the 28-6A title when it hosts Carroll on Friday night. But if Carroll defeats Southwest and East Central beats South San, East Central would win the crown because the Hornets own a victory against Carroll.
Southwest’s lone district loss so far has been to Corpus Christi King (6-3, 2-2), which plays Ray (6-3, 1-3) for a playoff spot on Friday night. Regardless of how the 28-6A race shakes out, East Central and Southwest already have nailed down berths in the Division I playoffs.
Win or lose Friday night, Carroll already has clinched the No. 1 seed in the Division II playoffs and would play the Brandeis-Brennan loser in bidistrict. The Brandeis-Brennan winner would play King or Ray.
In 27-5A, Boerne Champion (9-0, 7-0) has won the title and is one win away from its first perfect regular season. Alamo Heights (7-2, 6-1) and Kerrville Tivy (7-2, 6-1) square off for the runner-up spot Friday night in Kerrville. Lockhart (6-3, 4-3) has clinched fourth place.
Sam Houston (8-2, 8-0) won the 28-5A championship, and Brackenridge (6-3, 6-1) took second. Harlandale (5-4, 4-3) and Edison (4-5, 4-3) are tied for third in the district. Burbank (4-5, 3-4) and Jefferson (3-6, 3-4) are still in contention for the fourth playoff spot.
Harlandale, which plays rival McCollum in the annual Frontier Bowl on Friday night, has beaten Burbank and Jefferson but lost to Edison. Edison plays Jefferson in its regular-season finale. A win in the Frontier Bowl would propel Harlandale into the playoffs.
In 29-5A, Uvalde (8-1, 5-1) and Somerset (6-2, 5-1) are tied for first, and Southside (7-2, 4-2) is third. Eagle Pass Winn (4-5, 3-3) and Medina Valley (3-6, 3-3) are tied for fourth.
Uvalde ends the regular season against Medina Valley, and Somerset plays Winn. Somerset owns the tie-breaker against Uvalde because it beat the Coyotes. Southside beat Somerset, but lost to Uvalde last week.