by John Kastner
The Smithson Valley Rangers will face a “darkhorse” in the San Marcos Rattlers this Friday night at Ranger Stadium in the 26-5A Division II playoff title – the Rattlers have been taking their licks in the 5A warfare, dropping some close encounters in the final minutes including that 35-20 loss to arch-rival Austin High this past Friday.
“We have been having our share of turnovers the last several ballgames,” Rattler Coach Van Nest lamented. “And now we find ourselves in a crucial situation against Smithson Valley, a team that has so much offensive and defensive punch that we are really worried.”
But for Nest, the worries are not easy to overlook, when you are down by one TD and you have the football and you fumble, then regain the pigskin again and fumble again; that’s how you wonder just how things will be when the Rattlers clash with the Rangers.
Nash added,”You just don’t make mistakes against a team like Smithson Valley; they just don’t make it easy for you.”
So what do you look for as far as the Rattler punch is concerned?
A fairly balanced backfield, led by senior halfback T.P.Miller who rushed for 175 total yards and scored a pair of TDs on 17 carries.
“Miller is our playmaker,”Nest said.”He just seems to make things happen for us.”
The other back for the Rattlers is senior Kevin Stiles who against Austin Westlake two weeks ago grabbed 150 yards on 12 carries rushing.
The Rangers, 9-1 overall this year, have played the Rattlers six consecutive times in playoff action and the Rattlers are 0-6 in those games.
“We are really looking forward to this contest with San Marcos,” Ranger Coach Larry Hill stressed.”We had a tremendous win here tonight against Churchill and the kids are really cranked-up to face the Rattlers.”
“We came out of the Churchill contest in excellent shape and we expect to be at full-strength come game time this Friday night. You have to worry somewhat about San Marcos since they never give up, especially in the final quarter.”
“We’re worried about their two fine runningbacks,” Rangers quarterback Bryan Hill stressed.
Hill thinks that the Rangers can throw the football against the Rattlers and that they may not have to count on a ground attack that much, especially with ace halfback Trent Rios making the smart moves.
Kickoff is slated for 7:30 and a stadium-packed crowd is expected.
For a quick “Out-on-a-limb” outlook, let’s give the Rangers a solid nod to defeat the Rattlers 35-0, with a Bryan Hill-Trent Rios circus show!
In the Churchill contest, the Rangers beat the Chargers Friday night 24-3 to grab the 26-5A gridiron title.
“What a win” shouted Ranger Head football coach Larry Hill after the victory.
“It always feels good to win the championship outright,” Hill said “But it feels even better when you win at home.”
Coach Hill had a huge smile on his face just after the final whistle had sounded, as his star runningback Trent Rios ate up huge chunks of real estate once again.
Speaking about the passing game, Rangers quarterback Bryan Hill said, “We didn’t do so bad, considering Churchill kept their defense extra tight and we could not complete several key passes.”
The Rangers wasted little after a scoreless first stanza, when they plowed into the endzone in the second frame; the Chargers finally dented the tallyboard in the third quarter on a single field goal before the Rangers went back on offense to score both in the third and fourth stanzas.
Tailback Cody Renken had another excellent contest setting up numerous plays that gave the Rangers excellent field position including one carry for 16 yards which later resulted in a Smithson Valley tally.
Runningback Chris Brehm also played outstanding Friday night as he churned-out 53 yards on 11 carries.
The other big plus was in penalties where the Rangers only had two for 10 yards compared to a bag-full against Reagan two weeks ago.
Travis Constanzo once again had a big night in the kicking department as he socked a 22 yard field goal to give the Rangers a 9-0 bulge.
“Travis has been sharp for us all season long,” Hill said. “He is one of the best kickers in the area and we will count on him when we go into the playoffs.”