Game Preview: Smithson Valley vs San Antonio Madison

The football team roars onto the field before the season opener against Midland Lee on Aug. 31

Nathan Canales

The football team roars onto the field before the season opener against Midland Lee on Aug. 31

Jackson Posey, Staff Writer

Two weeks into the season, football is chomping at the bit to get back on the field. A rough loss in week one to Midland Lee and a canceled game at Hendrickson (rain) have created an extra aura of excitement around the already-significant homecoming matchup.

Trey Witcher is just one who can’t wait to play.

“We have had to keep in all the hype for 2 weeks now,” the pass rusher said, “All of us think about being under those lights on a Friday night every second of every day. We have had two great weeks of practice and we [are] ready to get a win for school, especially on homecoming night.”


A run-heavy team, the Mavericks are adept at creating holes for their patient running backs in their power-zone scheme. Five key takeaways from their season opener against Bowie:

  1. They are all run, all the time.

If I were a betting man, I would bet at least 60 perent of their plays will result in a rush. From watching film of their opening-week offense, the ground game was more than prevalent.  No. 1 Dante Heaggans (who also spends time at receiver) only completed three passes; two were checkdowns to avoid sacks, the other was an eight-yard toss to a wide-open crossing route. This is a team that doesn’t stretch the defense vertically. If the Rangers control the line of scrimmage, they will control the game.

  1. The O-Line is a run-blocking monster.

Big run after big run, again and again they pounded the football. And it actually worked. Their dynamic duo of running backs, No. 4 JB Bateman and No. 23 Christian Hernandez, ran all over an overmatched Bowie front seven. But without a passing game, it simply wasn’t enough. Their quarterback is really just an athlete, more receiver than quarterback. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if, while playing from behind, Madison kept running halfback draws. It’s just who they are.

  1. The receivers aren’t scary.

The receivers were very involved in Week One but not in the passing game. Multiple jet sweeps, lots of men in motion, but it was all meant to disguise the rush. Barring a major scheme/gameplan change, they won’t be doing a lot of damage.

  1. Their special team coverage unit is special.

The Mavericks didn’t get much going in the return game. But their coverage team more than made up for the return touchdown they allowed, with a blocked a kick and punt, as well as recovering a muffed snap on another field goal try. The Rangers hit a field goal and went two for three on extra points, which is solid. But the overall special teams play has to improve. You can’t lose the field position battle to a team this good in the ground game. They will control the pace of play and you’ll be left behind. If it turns into a grind-it-out clash of grit, I’m not sure if the Rangers can compete. If they want to win, they have to get in scoring position early and often, forcing Madison to throw the football, and that begins with good field position on every drive.

  1. They may have a Steel Curtain-level front seven.

Allowing 23 and 49 points in Weeks One and Two wouldn’t seem typical of an elite defense, but that’s exactly what this Madison team did. Their line engulfs the opposing O-line in constant pressure, and their linebackers shed seemingly every block. Plus, they’re a team of opportunists – Bowie’s first drive ended in a swatted pass by outside linebacker No. 42 Brandon Bielefeld that fell into the arms of middle line backer No. 21 Andre Riley. On the rare occasion the Bowie running backs would get a hole, an arm would appear from nowhere to drag them back down. If there was a pocket, the defensive ends were in it. It was a constant pressure, constant wall impeding their progress.

Now, this isn’t to say that they were unstoppable. Despite innumerable run-stuffs and pass deflections, they allowed 49 points. The only place to pin that, other than the return touchdown, is on the secondary. They had some solid plays, but a few atrocious ones as well. And it was those mistakes that cost them the game. If he gets hot, quarterback No. 13 Levi Williams has a chance to absolutely torch that defensive back core. If the Ranger O-line can give him any amount of time, there will be slants and screens open for days. Half of that Maverick defense is special. Elite, even. But they will get absolutely lit up if Coach Blaine Pederson can’t patch together the back end of a squad that should be a major strength for the Mavericks.

All this to say… we know how good we are. Despite the 0-1 record, MySA still ranks the Rangers third in the city. The Rangers are still led by a star quarterback, tough trench play and high-level contributors at the skill positions and linebacker. Yes, Madison has some strengths. They have some scary parts to their team.

But in the end? They play a wideout at QB. They have a poor secondary. And they aren’t nearly as talented as the Rangers. Not even close. It’ll take a collapse or an explosion for anything other than a Ranger victory. That being said, it will definitely be a great game to watch. Big plays to come on both sides. But the pure talent pool Larry Hill gets to pull from is far greater than Pederson’s over at SA Madison. Yes, they play hard-nosed football. They won’t go down without a fight. But if the Rangers can match their intensity, the they’ll have a long ride home.

The game begins at 7:30 at Ranger Field. If you are unable to attend but would still like to watch, live coverage will be available on the Rangers Network.

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