By Nicholas Brady
The San Marcos Rattlers are less than two weeks away from kicking off the 2020 football season under new head coach John Walsh.
Walsh is considered a legendary coach in Texas high school football after spending over a decade at Denton Guyer High School where he built the program from the ground up and compiled a record of 132-55, including two state championships in four state title game appearances.
San Marcos may still be in District 26-6A, but they’re the lone returning school and are joined by powerhouses Lake Travis and defending state champion Austin Westlake.
(* indicates non district games)
Week 1 (9/24): New Braunfels Unicorns (Home) *
New Braunfels finished 2019 5-5, including a dominating 48-7 win over the Rattlers. The Unicorn’s last playoff appearance was in 2016 but they have defeated the Rattlers each of the last four seasons. San Marcos will look to start off what they call the “new era of Rattler football” with a win against their former district rival.
Week 2 (10/1): Lockhart Lions (Away)*
Lockhart finished 2019 6-5 and made an appearance in the 5A playoffs, losing to Weiss High School 24-14 in the first round. In this local matchup, the Rattlers will aim to build momentum before their back-to-back against Lake Travis and Westlake to start district play.
Week 3 (10/8): Lake Travis Cavaliers (Away)
Lake Travis enters 2020 as the ninth-ranked team in class 6A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football. After going 13-2 on their way to a district championship and an appearance in the state semifinals, they eventually lost to state champion Galena Park North Shore 49-38. Lake Travis will once again have the University of Pittsburgh quarterback commit, Nate Yarnell, under center. Yarnell saw playing time last season after starting quarterback Hudson Card suffered a season-ending injury. Yarnell will get one of his top targets back in USC tight end commit Lake McRee, who returns after suffering a season-ending injury of his own in 2019.
Week 4 (10/15): Westlake Chaparrals (Home)
Things won’t get any easier for the Rattlers in week four as they will welcome the Chaparrals of Westlake High School to Rattler Stadium. Westlake is coming off a 15-1 season in which they won the 6A-Division 2 state championship. Their 2019 title is the second state title in program history and first since 1996 when they were led by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees. In the state title game, the Chaparrals defeated Coach Walsh’s Denton Guyer Wildcats 24-0. Westlake’s only loss in 2019 came to Lake Travis 26-25. Westlake will debut a new starting quarterback in Cade Klubnik who replaces 2019 starter, Kirkland Michaux. Klubnik is ranked the #10 pro-style quarterback in the class of 2022 and currently holds offers from numerous power five programs including Auburn, LSU and Baylor. Westlake begins the season as the fourth-ranked team in class 6A by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football.
Week 5 (10/22) Hays High School (Home)
In week five San Marcos welcomes longtime rival Hays to Toyota Rattler Stadium. Hays went 8-3 in 2019, including a 41-13 victory over the Rattlers on their way to the playoffs. Hays would go on to lose 56-21 in the first round of the playoffs to state power Converse Judson. The Rattlers will look to stop Hays’s slot-T option offense to beat their rival, this time in district play.
Week 6 (10/29) Austin Maroons (Away)
The Maroons finished 2019 with a record of 4-6. They are led by the University of Texas quarterback commit, Charles Wright. Wright is coming off a first-team all-district season in 2019. The Maroons are looking for their first winning season since 2017.
Week 7 (11/5) Del Valle Cardinals (Home)
The Cardinals finished 2019 5-5 but were competitive in every game. Del Valle will lean on Michigan running back commit Tavierre Dunlap and junior wide receiver Caleb Burton who is listed as the number one receiver in the class of 2022 by 247sports.com. Burton currently holds offers from most power five programs including Alabama, Georgia and Texas. If the Cardinals can find some answers defensively, they could be a team to watch out for in 2020.
Week 8 (11/13) Open
Week 9 (11/20) Austin Bowie Bulldogs (Away)
The Bulldogs finished 2019 5-6 and made an appearance in the playoffs. They lost their first-round matchup 27-17 to the Clemens Buffaloes.
Week 10 (11/27) Austin Akins Eagles (Home)
Akins finished 2019 2-8 with their only victories being against the Crockett Cougars and Lehman Lobos. The Eagles have not had a winning season in over 10 years.
Week 11 (12/4) Cedar Ridge Raiders (Away)*
The Rattlers will finish the season by traveling north on I-35 to Round Rock to face the Raiders. Cedar Ridge went 6-5 in 2019. The Raiders suffered a first-round playoff loss to Cypress Woods 42-28. Cedar Ridge has made the playoffs every season since 2013.
The Rattlers will get their first look at another team when they travel to Smithson Valley to scrimmage the Rangers tonight at 7 p.m.
Feature image by Mark DeLeon