Column: Turmoil at the top

Power-ranking District 27-6A football teams ahead of Thursday’s district opener


Davis Kuhn

Travis McCracken fights upfield on Sept. 10 against El Paso Eastwood. McCracken, a running back, leads all Rangers with 336 yards from scrimmage.

Jackson Posey, Sports Director

San Antonio’s premier football district exists as a sort of panoramic of the city – member schools stretch from the southwest side to New Braunfels, from the township of Cibolo to unincorporated land on State Highway 46.

Those schools boast football teams as unique as their locations and traditions. From Wagner’s triple-option to Judson’s spread attack, there’s little conformity besides the apparent desire to be different. And that distinctiveness makes it difficult to fairly evaluate a district littered with historic powers. But, every year, people try. And we’re no different.

Regardless of what happens this year, remember that these rankings are flawless. Just don’t check our work when the season ends.

  1. South San Bobcats (0-3)

Rumor has it that South San, in an attempt to return to Class 5A, will shift some of its enrollment over to West Campus next year. That’s probably their best hope to return to the playoffs – the Bobcats have lost their first three games by a combined score of 107-6, and haven’t won a game since Sept. 2019. Their roster was already relatively small, and West Campus’ opening exacerbated that issue. The team has some talented players, including star defensive end Jaycob Sifuentes, but ultimately lacks the depth to compete for a postseason appearance.

  1. Clemens Buffaloes (0-3)

The Buffaloes return eight defensive starters, and it shows: they’ve held their first three opponents under their respective scoring averages by at least a touchdown. But they’ve failed to capitalize on their impressive defensive performances. They’ve scored just two touchdowns all season, and have struggled to consistently move the ball. Clemens’ defense is certainly playoff-caliber, but unless the offense can get up to speed, the Buffaloes will face their second consecutive season without a playoff berth.

  1. East Central Hornets (2-1)

One of the more seasoned teams in the district, the Hornets return 13 starters. Led by Caden Bosanko, a third-year starter at quarterback, the offense put up 30-plus points in Weeks 1 and 2 before a 16-point showing against San Marcos. The ability to initiate shootouts can be a valuable one, especially when playing as an underdog, but the Hornets need to prove they can win consistently before earning serious playoff consideration. Before 2020, they’d increased their win total in consecutive seasons; a return to that upward trajectory could vault them higher in next season’s rankings, but they’re probably a ways away from making a major splash.

  1. New Braunfels Unicorns (3-0)

This is where things get interesting from a postseason perspective. Quarterback Aiden Baumann (611 yards, 11 touchdowns, 0 interceptions) has been everything the Unicorns could’ve asked for from a Peyton Driggers replacement, and a deep stable of weapons makes his offense dangerous. The defense, meanwhile, has forced four interceptions, but struggled to prevent points against San Marcos and has yet to play an elite offense. They’ll face their first major test on Thursday at Judson, a game with potentially major ramifications.

  1. Judson Rockets (1-2)

Head coach Rodney Williams scheduled arguably the toughest preseason schedule this side of Bishop Sycamore, against a gauntlet of state-ranked opponents: vs. DeSoto (No. 15), at Lake Travis (No. 7) and vs. College Station A&M Consolidated (No. 7 in Class 5A Division II). The Rockets topped DeSoto by a touchdown, but by all accounts looked uninspired in subsequent losses, by 32 and 14 points, respectively.

No other 27-6A team possesses the level of raw talent that Judson does, but as last season’s first-round playoff exit demonstrates, talent alone does not necessitate success. A return to dominance against New Braunfels would go a long way towards silencing the naysayers.

  1. Wagner Thunderbirds (2-1)

After a narrow loss to Johnson in Week 1, the Thunderbirds blew out Stevens and Laredo Alexander by a combined score of 110-3. Behind the legs of Quentin Owens (449 yards, 4 touchdowns) and three other 100-plus yard rushers, the team is averaging 366.3 yards rushing per game.

Wagner’s strengths on the ground and in the trenches are well-documented, but how well they perform in the passing game will determine how far they can go. After allowing five opponents to score 35-plus points last season, including three games of 56-plus points allowed, the Thunderbirds’ secondary needs to prove it can slow down premier passing attacks. On offense, quarterback Isaiah Williams has attempted just nine passes through three games, completing two for 57 yards and a touchdown – not that he’s needed to throw much, but a consistent aerial attack is key to keeping pace in shootouts. An improved secondary and passing attack would go a long way towards making this team a contender in the grand scheme of Region IV.

  1. Steele Knights (3-0)

The Knights are the most experienced team in the district, returning seven starters on each side of the ball, and it shows. They’ve held opponents to nine points per game, and pulled off an upset over then-top-ranked Reagan, 14-6. Their strength of schedule is comparable to the Rangers’, but they’ve been more dominant defensively and have more blue-chip talent.

Steele hosted all three preseason matchups, and will only play three regular-season games on the road. Connor Vincent and Jaydon Bailey form a young, but effective, backfield attack. If the Knights can continue to ramp up offensive production, a district title is a distinct possibility.

  1. Smithson Valley Rangers (3-0)

The Rangers faced a uniquely explosive offense (El Paso Eastwood) on Friday, and managed to force two interceptions, a fumble and three turnovers on downs en route to a 42-14 rout. They did so without starting quarterback Derek Mata, out with an arm injury, and with the second unit playing much of the fourth quarter.

The defense dominated all preseason, racking up 18 sacks, 12 tackles for loss, 4 interceptions and 3 fumble recoveries, and they’ve allowed just nine points per game, tied with Steele for second-fewest in 27-6A. They’re also scoring 34 points per game, compared to the Knights’ 23.3. The Rangers get Wagner and Judson at home, and their season finale at Steele could easily serve as the de facto district championship.