After sitting out Reagan’s 50-19 playoff rout of Los Fresnos with a knee injury Saturday, Rattlers sophomore quarterback Kellen Mond is good to go for this week’s showdown with Judson for the Region IV-6A Division I title.
“He’s going to play, he’s going to play,” Reagan coach David Wetzel said Wednesday after practice.
Mond sprained his left knee about midway through the fourth quarter of the Rattlers’ 38-31 victory against Stevens in the second round of the playoffs.
“I went out during warm-ups Saturday and it felt fine,” Mond said. “But Coach (Wetzel) didn’t want to risk further injury, so he held me out. I think being out Thanksgiving week kind of helped me. I stayed at home and iced my knee a lot and just rested it. I also came to therapy here at school. I’ve been running for about five days and I’m ready to play.”
Reagan (12-1) plays Judson (12-1) in the state quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Judson’s Rutledge Stadium. The Rattlers are 0-4 in the regional finals, and lost to the Rockets in 2007.
The Reagan-Judson winner will face Cypress Ranch or Dickinson in the state semifinals at 3 p.m. Dec. 13 at the Alamodome.
Two other San Antonio-area teams will square off in another regional final this weekend.
Brandeis (12-1) plays Steele (12-1) in the 6A Division II state quarterfinals at 4 p.m. Saturday at Alamo Stadium. The winner meets perennial power Katy or Manvel at NRG Stadium, formerly Reliant Stadium, Dec. 13 in Houston. Kickoff is tentatively scheduled for 4 p.m.
Mond’s return will give the Reagan offense a boost against a Judson defense that plays fast and furious.
“They’re fast, fast and they’re very athletic,” Wetzel said. “They’re very good and they’re coached by a guy who used to be here.”
First-year Judson defensive coordinator Ricky Matt was Reagan’s defensive coordinator for six seasons before resigning in 2013. He was an assistant coach at Trinity last season and joined first-year Judson head coach Sean McAuliffe’s staff earlier this year.
“Ricky did a good job while he was here,” Wetzel said. “We won a lot of games with him calling the shots. We look over there (at Judson) with their alignment, so we know what they’re doing. They’ve just some real skilled people playing.
“They’re very active. They’re strong and physical, and they can all run. There’s not anybody that’s been able to run the ball on them. There’s no consistency running the ball from anybody they’ve played.”
Matt and the Rockets will have their hands full against Mond, a classic dual-threat quarterback who has demonstrated outstanding poise and maturity for a sophomore. He’s also put up some impressive numbers.
Mond, 6-foot-2 and 180 pounds, has completed 128 of 210 passes, with only two interceptions, for 1,630 yards and 19 touchdowns, and has rushed for 1,117 yards and 14 TDs. He is averaging 7.3 yards per carry.
“He really does everything well,” Wetzel said. “He throws the ball well and really runs the ball well. He’s very calm. He makes good decisions with the football. He’s still young, so he’s still learning, but he’s got the ability to make plays with his feet and his arm.
“He’s bigger than most people realize. He’s probably faster than people think because he’s got a long stride. He’s a 400 (meter) guy in track. As a freshman, he was a 50-point, 51-flat guy (in the 400). We knew all of those things from middle school.”
But Mond has something else that has impressed Wetzel and played a key role in the Rattlers’ success this season.
“I think the thing that’s been most impressive to us that knew all those other things about him is his toughness,” Wetzel said. “He’s tough. He’s taken some shots and he’s also delivered some. He was flat better than everybody in middle school.
“Sometimes you get those guys and they don’t want to get hit. I think that’s the thing I’ve been most pleased with. He fits in our mentality and our philosophy.”
McAuliffe also has been impressed with what he’s seen of Mond on video this week.
“What makes him different is that time and time people have a hand on him and he slips away,” McAuliffe said. “He’s an outstanding quarterback.”
Mond is the third outstanding sophomore quarterback Reagan has had in the past decade, following Derrick Walls and Trevor Knight, who started nine games for Oklahoma this season before he sustained a neck injury.
Mond expressed similar sentiments as Wetzel about the Judson defense.
“They have a very good defense,” Mond said. “They have a good front seven, but I think we have a good game plan if we execute it. They’re really athletic.”
The Rockets’ 42-21 playoff win over Reagan in 2007 avenged a district loss to the Rattlers in their regular-season finale. Reagan also lost in this round in 2006 (Austin Westlake), 2008 (Smithson Valley) and 2011 (Steele). All the losses in the state quarterfinals have come with Wetzel at the helm.
The Rattlers have gone 95-38 and won four district championships and a co-title under Wetzel, who is in his 11th season at Reagan.
Region IV playoff results, pairings
Judson 55, Laredo United 20
Reagan 50, Los Fresnos 19
Judson (9-4) vs. Reagan (12-1), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Rutledge Stadium, Judson
Steele 48, Weslaco East 17
Brandeis 42, Brownsville Rivera 14
Steele (12-1) vs. Brandeis (12-1), Saturday, 4 p.m., Alamo Stadium
Austin Johnson 36, Victoria West 35
Austin Vandegrift 49, Corpus Christi Flour Bluff 27
Austin Johnson (11-2) vs. Austin Vandegrift (11-2), Saturday, 2 p.m., Gupton Stadium, Cedar Park
Cedar Park 52, Mission Sharyland 24
Kerrville Tivy 54, Gregory-Portland 30
Cedar Park (10-3) vs. Kerrville Tivy (10-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Alamo Stadium
Liberty Hill 31, Rockport-Fulton 21
Burnet 38, Waco Robinson 35
Liberty Hill (11-2) vs. Burnet (11-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Reeves Complex, Round Rock
Yoakum 43, Cuero 34
Sinton 56, Wimberley 41
Yoakum (10-3) vs. Sinton (10-3), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Farris Stadium
Hallettsville 27, Mathis 26
Edna 50, Ingram Moore 28
Hallettsville (10-3) vs. Edna (8-5), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Traylor Stadium, Rosenberg
Odem 40, Van Vleck 36
Blanco 14, East Bernard 7
Odem (12-1) vs. Blanco (13-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Comalander Stadium
Refugio 56, Thorndale 19
Mason 42, Three Rivers 0
Refugio (12-0) vs. Mason (12-0), Friday, 7:30 p.m., Heroes Stadium
Bremond 47, Louise 6
Bruni 7, Falls City 6
Bremond (12-0) vs. Bruni (10-2), Friday, 7:30 p.m., La Vernia
Dallas Bishop Dunne 27, Antonian 13