To the Max: Schertz returns for rematch with Rangers

The Rangers look to keep momentum going in a tough matchup with Clemens


Danielle Esperiqueta

Safeties Jacob Perez and Jackson Sennie high-five after forcing an incompletion against Hendrickson. The Ranger secondary will be tasked with slowing down star QB Didomenico, who has 10 touchdowns.

Jackson Posey, Sports Editor

Schertz Clemens QB Max Didomenico shocked the world last year by switching from defensive back to quarterback ahead of last year’s matchup with Smithson Valley, overtaking incumbent starter Kahliq Paulette and exploding to the tune of 304 total yards, two touchdowns and a pick in a 19-13 victory at Lehnhoff Stadium. Smithson Valley coach Larry Hill has warned against allowing so many big plays, always a target of his but even more important against a quarterback like Didomenico. So what’s so dangerous about the second-year starter?

“Well, just what you said, his ability to create plays with his arm and his legs,” Hill said in an interview with Rangers Network. “[He can work] within the structure of the offensive play, but… also [can] create when the play breaks down and make something out of nothing. He can make  something big out of nothing, and he was the difference a year ago, three long runs on really what appeared to be nothing plays.”

Corralling such an electric athlete will be no small task, but the defense is up for it.

“Our team plays together as a unit,” senior safety Mason Livingston said. “[We] trust each and every guy on the field to get their job done, [which] allows us to shut down teams.”

That doesn’t mean they won’t be challenged. Didomenico’s all-purpose line of 72/572/10 is impressive, but the turnovers are a bit concerning. The junior has only thrown one pick this year, but threw six in an eight-game span of starts last year. The Ranger defense is confident that they can pressure him into more mistakes.

“We’re going to play hard and make good plays to give us momentum,” Livingston said. “We’re going to be trying to strip the ball out and jump routes.”

Didomenico, as good as he may be, is not alone. After amassing 189 rushing yards in a reserve role last season, junior A’mari Williams already has 154 (and a score) in just three contests. Through the air, 5’10 speed threats Vicente Perez and Andrew Edwards lead the charge with a combined 31 catches for 318 yards, with Perez hauling in three touchdowns. 

Switching over to the defensive side of the ball does nothing but present more challenges for the Rangers. The Buffaloes return nine starters, including all-state safety Mason Chambers, who put up 86 tackles and two interceptions last season. Hill praised their “talent… size and speed at every position.” But they aren’t invincible.

Up 21-7 at halftime, the Buffaloes had every reason to be confident. Considering Clemens’ dominant offense, home-field advantage, and the fact that the then-winless San Antonio Reagan team had struggled to re-integrate quarterback Travis Sthele following his preseason injury, the game should’ve ended in a second-half blowout. Instead, it went the other direction. Reagan put up 28 unanswered in the second half, including a pick-six of Didomenico with less than 90 seconds on the clock to secure the 35-28 win. Livingston thinks he has them down.

“The way they line up in the formation [narrows] down what plays they can run, so we get good ideas of what can happen before the play ever begins.”

Were there flukes? Sure. A fumble in the red zone, a punt return touchdown called back, and an offsides call on a missed Reagan extra point (they made the re-kick) could’ve made up to a 15-point swing. But the more cracks a team shows, the harder it is to hold down the fort.

“They presented [in the Clemens game] that they are a beatable team,” Livingston said. “They showed how they can’t [handle] adverse situations well.”

Every year, these two teams play each other incredibly close. Three of the past four matchups have been decided by six points or fewer, and this week should prove to be no exception. All in all, an explosive, tight game looks to be in the cards yet again as the Rangers gear up to play the Buffaloes for the sixth straight year.