Churchill football coach Glenn Hill won’t have to say much, if anything, to get his players emotionally ready to play this week.
“This morning’s practice was crisp,” Hill said Monday. “Our players were here early and hit the practice field at 7 o’clock, and they were ready to roll.”
The Chargers are undefeated but they have yet to play defending district champion Reagan, which has won four league titles the previous 10 seasons.
Churchill won’t have to wait much longer for a chance at the Rattlers.
The Chargers, 6-0 overall and 1-0 in District 26-6A, play the Rattlers (6-1, 2-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Comalander Stadium.
Churchill and Reagan are No. 3 and No. 6, respectively, in the KENS 5 San Antonio Super 10 rankings.
“The thing about our next game is we’ve kind of played the season to get to this point, playing the defending district champion,” Hill said Monday. “We have goals at Churchill and we can’t get there until we play this ballclub. They’re the team that has the gold football (district trophy) from last year. If you watch them on film, they’re really, really good again this year.
“To say you’re excited to play a team like that sounds a little crazy, but I think both teams look forward to these types of games. This is what you practice for. This is what the offseason is about. Not just for us, but for them as well. This is going to be the fun game. I told our kids this morning when we met that there aren’t going to be any empty seats this week.”
KENS 5 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
SAN ANTONIO SUPER 10 RANKINGS – Oct. 13, 2014
1. Brennan (7-0): Bears beat Warren 42-17 to go to 2-0 in District 27-6A Zone A play.
2. Brandeis (6-0): Broncos defeated Holmes 49-6 in 27-6A Zone B opener.
3. Churchill (6-0): Chargers play No. 6 Reagan in clash of teams unbeaten in 26-6A play.
4. Steele (6-1): Knights improved to 3-0 in 25-6A with 31-7 win over Wagner.
5. O’Connor (5-1): Panthers play Clark in matchup of teams undefeated in 27-6A Zone B play.
6. Reagan (6-1): Rattlers lead No. 3 Churchill by a half-game in 26-6A standings.
7. Boerne Champion (7-0): Chargers rolled past Kennedy 49-7, now 5-0 in 27-5A.
8. Smithson Valley (3-3): Rangers had an open date last week.
9. Stevens (4-2): Falcons had an open date last week.
10. Alamo Heights (5-2): Mules beat Seguin 31-9, improving to 4-1 in 27-5A.
Ten other teams to watch: Antonian (5-1), Burbank (4-2), Central Catholic (4-2), Clark (4-3), Judson (4-3), Kerrville Tivy (4-2), MacArthur (3-3), Navarro (6-1), Sam Houston (5-2), Southside (6-0).
Teams that dropped out of rankings: None
The Churchill-Reagan rivalry features two of the most successful programs in the North East ISD. That Reagan took students from Churchill when it opened has added spice to the rivalry.
“These kids are all friends,” Hill said, referring to football players at both schools “That kind of makes this game special, too. These kids grew up knowing one another. Those are the fun games.”
A former standout at East Central High School in the mid-1970s, Hill was quite familiar with Churchill’s football tradition before he returned to San Antonio to take the reins of the Chargers’ program in 2009. Formerly head coach at Roosevelt, Hill left the NEISD school in 2006 to take the top coaching job at Conroe Caney Creek.
Churchill won a state championship in the UIL’s largest classification, then 4A, in 1976 and advanced to the 4A state semifinals in 1978 and 1981 under Coach Jerry Comalander.
“Football in our community is very important,” Hill said. “That’s one of the things that most excited me when this opportunity came about, when Coach Comalander called. I want to be someplace where it’s important and football is very important here. There’s a lot of history here. I have the privilege of coaching kids whose moms and dads graduated from Churchill.
“We still pack the stands every week and our community comes out and supports us. It’s a unique community. Our community understands the game more than any place I’ve ever been. To a large degree, our jobs as coaches are easier because we have a lot of kids from homes where parents expect their children to be successful.”
This year’s team opened the season with a 35-14 victory against Clark in the annual Gucci Bowl and beat Wagner (42-4), Taft (35-7) and Warren (56-35) in their three other nondistrict games.
The Chargers have defeated MacArthur (38-28) and Lee (35-21) in 26-6A play.
Hill, 32-29 at Churchill, has put together a team with a good blend of talent and leadership.
“I really like this team,” Hill said. “Obviously, we’ve got some talented players and that’s why you win games. But I also think a big factor in our success has been what great young men our players are. I’ve got a team of a bunch of high-character young men who are just a joy to work with.
“I feel very privileged to have a chance to coach guys like this. It just doesn’t happen every year. Our best players are high-character team guys, and it’s just so easy for everybody else to fall in line. It’s just fun coaching a team like that.”
Any discussion of the Churchill offense begins and ends with senior quarterback David Montoya, who has been a steady force this season.
“David Montoya is special,” Hill said. “What makes David special is his leadership. He’s one of those rare individuals who honestly couldn’t care less about his individual statistics.
“The only thing he cares about is us being successful. He will defer credit to anyone besides himself. When David steps in the huddle, there’s just a calm that comes over that huddle. It’s hard to explain unless you watch it.”
Montoya has completed 41 of 61 passes, with only one interception, for 737 yards and five touchdowns.
“If David was in one of those offenses that threw it 60 times a game, you’d be reading about him everywhere,” Hill said. “The only statistic he worries about is whether we win.”
Senior Nick Smisek and junior Dandre Reed combine their skills to give the Chargers a potent running game.
Smisek, who at 220 pounds is the bigger of the two running backs, has rushed for 736 yards and 13 TDs, and is averaging 6.24 yards a carry. A three-year starter, Smisek has cracked the 1,000-yard mark each of the previous two seasons.
Reed, who is faster than Smisek, has run for 516 yards and seven TDs, and has a 7.48 average. Reed is also the team’s leading receiver with 14 catches for 317 yards and three TDs.
“They’re a heck of a rushing duo,” Hill said. “Nick’s really fast, too, but he’s that 220-pound guy who hunts down contact. He’s quite load. Dandre doesn’t fear contact, either, but he’s just really fast. He’s instinctive and sees the cuts before they show up. As a duo, they’re pretty special. They’re kind of thunder and lightning.”
Hill heaps praise on Chargers’ defensive unit
Senior wide receivers Brad Goforth and Andrew Rockett, and tight end Jacob Groff all have contributed nicely. “Jacob has made some great catches,” Hill said.
Center Justin Tobar, guards Alvie Young and Julian Casas, and tackles Cameron Touchstone and Chance Lytle man the offensive line. Leif Jennings, who started on the line earlier in the season before getting injured, returned to practice Monday. All are seniors except Lytle, a junior.
The Chargers’ defense gets high marks from Hill.
“We really like our defensive bunch,” he said. “We’ve held some offenses that have scored a bunch of points to not scoring a bunch of points. It starts up front with us.”
Jonah Kucinski-Stewart, Sly Everege, Zach Baldassari and Steven Dominguez start on the defensive line, and Chris Hendricks and Jackson Sharrick see considerable time as backups. All are seniors.
Senior Sam Wagner, juniors Stephen West and Dillon Dennis and sophomore Cort Jacquess are the top linebackers. The secondary is manned by senior safety Kyle Pollard, junior safety Turner Trcka, and junior cornerbacks Kevin Faktor and Alex Simien.
“It’s tough to play defense today,” Hill said. “It’s not like 10, 15 years ago. You’re playing teams that are playing four or five wideouts one week and throwing on every down, and then the next week you’re playing a team that has two backs and two tights (tight ends).
“Then you have teams that do all of that stuff. You’ve got to get adjusted and lined up. Our kids do a great job.”