While the Brennan-Brandeis showdown for the District 27-6A title is this week’s marquee game in the San Antonio area, the Judson-Smithson Valley matchup for second place in 25-6A and the top seed in the Division II playoffs doesn’t lack for sizzle.
A win against Smithson Valley would extend Judson’s state-record streak of winning seasons to 38. Since Judson already has clinched a playoff spot, a loss Friday night wouldn’t necessarily end the streak. But the Rockets, who would head into the playoffs 5-5, would have to win at least two postseason games to ensure they finish with a winning record.
Smithson Valley (6-3, 4-1) is No. 7 in the KENS 5 Super 10 Rankings, and Judson (5-4, 4-1) moved into the rankings at No. 10 this week after beating Canyon 58-21.
The Rangers and Rockets play at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Judson’s Rutledge Stadium. The winner plays Churchill in the first round of the 6A Division I playoffs, and the loser gets 26-6A champ Reagan.
District 25-6A champion Steele, 8-1 overall, beat both Smithson Valley and Judson en route to the league title and can complete a 6-0 sweep of 25-6A with a win over New Braunfels Canyon on Friday night.
No. 1 Brennan (9-0) and No. 2 Brandeis (9-0) meet at 7 p.m. Thursday at Farris Stadium.
KENS 5 HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL
SAN ANTONIO SUPER 10 RANKINGS – Nov. 3, 2014
1. Brennan (9-0): Bears play No. 2 Brandeis for District 27-6A title on Thursday night at Farris Stadium.
2. Brandeis (9-0): Can Broncos go through district play undefeated for third year in a row?
3. Steele (8-1): Knights have won 27 consecutive district games heading into 25-6A finale against New Braunfels Canyon.
4. Reagan (9-1): Rattlers routed Lee 42-7 to finish undefeated in district play for second year in a row.
5. Churchill (8-1): Win over Madison would give Chargers nine wins in regular season for first time since 1982.
6. Boerne Champion (9-0): District 27-5A champ can clinch first 10-0 regular season in program’s seven-year history with win over Seguin.
7. Smithson Valley (6-3): Rangers tied with No. 10 Judson for second in 25-6A heading into Friday night’s game against Rockets.
8. O’Connor (6-2): Panthers finished second in 27-6A Zone B, play Warren for berth in postseason.
9. Alamo Heights (7-2): Mules tied with Kerrville Tivy for second in 27-5A heading into Friday night’s clash with Antlers.
10. Judson (5-4): A victory over No. 7 Smithson Valley will extend the Rockets’ state-record streak of winning seasons to 38.
Ten other teams to watch: Antonian (8-1), Brackenridge (6-3), Kerrville Tivy (7-2), MacArthur (5-4), Navarro (8-1), Sam Houston (8-2), Somerset (6-2), Southside (7-2), Stevens (6-3), Uvalde (8-1).
Teams that dropped out of Top 10: Stevens.
Judson coach Sean McAuliffe has been part of the Judson streak as a player, assistant coach and head coach.
“I think it’s a reflection of the consistency that’s been part of Judson for many years, long before I was here and hopefully will continue,” said McAuliffe, who is in his first season as the Rockets’ head coach. “I think it’s a real neat deal and speaks volumes of the type of kids we have here and the dedication they have in trying to be the best they can be.
“As far as sitting around and spending time talking about it, we don’t. Like I’ve told the kids, if we do the things we’re supposed to do, all that other stuff will take care of itself. We do spend a lot of time talking about how committed we can be to each other, and how committed we can be to playing how Judson Rockets football teams have been known to play.”
Judson’s streak of winning seasons began in 1977 under Coach Jerry Sanders and has continued under four other coaches – Frank Arnold, D.W. Rutledge, Jim Rackley and Mark Smith.
“When you think about it, there have been a lot of bigger fish in the pool besides me,” McAuliffe said, chuckling.
The Rockets have won six state championships and played in 11 state finals in the University Interscholastic League’s largest classification.
Judson broke Plano’s record of 36 consecutive winning seasons last year with a win over San Marcos. Ironically, Rattlers head coach Mark Soto played for the Rockets and was defensive coordinator under Rackley before he went to San Marcos in 2012.
“Anytime you can be part of something that is positive and reflects well on your school and your community, it makes you proud,” McAuliffe said. “Maybe I take a little more proud of it because I’m a Judson graduate.”
Two Rockets assistants, offensive line coach Guy Anderson (1996) and receivers coach Joel Call (1997) also graduated from Judson. Longtime assistant coach David Brothers has been on the staff for much of the streak.
“We lived it and breathed it, and now we’re fortunate enough and blessed to hopefully carry the torch the right way and keep on coaching,” McAuliffe said. “It’s always fun to be part of something bigger than yourself.”
McAuliffe, who graduated from Judson in 1993, was a senior defensive tackle on the 1992 team that routed Euless Trinity 52-0 in the Class 5A Division I title game. He was the Rockets’ defensive coordinator for two seasons before getting promoted to succeed Mark Smith, who resigned in March to take the head-coaching job at Madison.
Smithson Valley leads the series against Judson 7-1, winning every game since losing the first meeting between the schools in 2004. The Rangers beat the Rockets in district play each of the previous two seasons, 45-28 last year and 45-14 in 2012.
“The thing that jumps out at you when you look at Smithson Valley on video or in person is that they’re never really the biggest, the fastest or the strongest, but they execute, play well within themselves and they don’t beat themselves,” McAuliffe said. “It’s a disciplined program and they’ve got some great coaching with Coach (Larry) Hill and his staff.
“Coach Hill does a great job of scouting people. I’m sure he’s seen some things that we’ve struggled against a little bit, and I’m sure we’ll see some of that on Friday night. You take the talent that they have, combine it with the coaching and the belief they have in Coach Hill’s system, and you’ve got a heck of a challenge on your hands. We do for sure.”
Judson started the season 1-3 – two of its nondistrict losses were to Brandeis (27-14) and Brennan (39-14) – but the Rockets have gone 4-1 since then. The only loss in the second half of the season has been to Steele (23-22). Judson had the Knights on the ropes, but couldn’t finish them off.
“I think each week what you’re looking as a coach is improvement,” McAuliffe said. “I know sometimes we can be a little bit too critical, but our kids have fought the fight every week. Our kids have responded to whatever adversity we’ve had in a positive manner.
“They know we’re not a finished product yet. There’s still room for us to get better. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids. They don’t let circumstances dictate how they perform. As long as we keep working and they keep wanting to play for each other, we have a chance to do something real special here. More importantly, I think our kids believe that.”