Photo by Gerald Castillo
2022 San Marcos Football preview
Heading into head coach John Walsh’s third year at the helm, the Rattlers are once again primed to make a jump in 2022.
The purple and white escaped the eight-team gauntlet of District 26-6A during UIL realignment, which housed the likes of perennial state powerhouses Austin Westlake and Lake Travis. San Marcos was moved back south to District 27-6A, the same district this year’s senior class went 8-1 against as freshmen.
While there’s a big difference between freshman and varsity football, the competition has taken a *slight* step down. The Rattlers will still have to deal with NCAA Division I athletes, as District 27-6A comes with multiple historically successful programs along the I-35 corridor heading towards San Antonio.
Converse Judson and Cibolo Steele continue to produce players with 20-plus FBS offers. Schertz Clemens may be coming off a down year, but head coach Jared Johnston has had deep playoff runs throughout his tenure. Local rival New Braunfels won its first playoff game since 2009 in 2021, and San Antonio East Central made the playoffs for the first time since 2015 while also winning their first postseason game since 2012.
The purple and white won’t play a team that’s won three-straight 6A state championships like Austin Westlake, or a team that’s made multiple state title game appearances over the last decade like Lake Travis — but it’s definitely not going to be easy.
Another intriguing aspect of the Rattlers’ 2022 schedule is their five-game non-district slate. Their opponents throughout that stretch posted a combined record of 26-28 last season. One of the more revealing games during non-district play may be against San Antonio Wagner, who went 4-6 in 2021 but had multiple single-digit losses in District 27-6A.
While San Marcos lost a total of eight senior starters after 2021, it’s much more of a reload than a rebuild for Walsh and company.
Starting with the offensive line, the Rattlers lost both of their starting tackles in Jacob Pinkston and Nick Jones and still got better. That’s thanks to Jones’ 6’6 little brother Brenden, who has a 3.9 GPA which translates to football IQ on the field — plus the addition of one of the most coveted offensive line recruits in the country in 6’8 Ory Williams who played JV last season due to transfer rules. Both tackles will be playing their junior season.
In the backfield, the purple and white bring everything back plus experience. Not only is senior running back Jaidyn Brown one of the most electric players in central Texas, but senior quarterback and Elite 11 regional participant Isaiah DeLeon is entering his third year running the Walsh offense. His scrambling ability took a big jump throughout the course of 2021, and he looks even more accurate throwing on the run heading into this year. Bruising senior H-Back Jake Rodriguez-Scholz hasn’t gone anywhere either.
The Rattlers will also be looking to replace Baldwin-Wallace commit Elijah Pearson at Tight End. Expect senior Jake Darling to play a good amount of snaps there as well as on defense.
San Marcos will have to fill the gap left by seniors Nathan Henry and Jamil Gordon at receiver, but bring back talented juniors Tony Diaz and Texas State Baseball commit Kutter Gage Webb. The junior duo has shown out in spring and during their scrimmage against Laredo United South. Hearing the names Webb and Diaz might give Rattler fans déjà vu — not only because of their namesake but with their on-field performance as well. Expect them to be weapons for DeLeon through the air.
Going back to the line of scrimmage on the defensive side, the purple and white bring back their two senior edge rushers in Ja’kwavius Simmons and Harvard commit Jake Darling. Simmons has been hearing from D-I programs like Sam Houston State — expect to see more offers headed Simmons’ way in 2022.
At linebacker, seniors Michael Garza and King Diaz also return. The tandem brings a lot of athleticism to the gridiron and the two are mobile enough to play in coverage as well as downhill. Senior Cory Fennell is another name to watch at linebacker.
Once again, the Rattlers bring back starters defensively. This time it’s the defensive backs. Junior Malakai Ogunbase and senior Zach Decker will be the team’s starting cornerbacks, while seniors Exavion Harris and Jon Vega will play in the back end at both safety spots. The group’s understanding of defensive coordinator Kurtis Kloiber’s coverages should be a strength for the secondary in 2022.
The purple and white progressed to a playoff berth last season, and will look to continue the program’s ascension in the class of 2023’s senior year with more wins in the postseason. It’s a long road to November, but the Rattlers seem poised to make a third-year jump under Walsh — similar to Denton Guyer’s rise in 2008 during Walsh’s third season as head coach. San Marcos kicks off their season Friday night against Hutto inside Toyota Rattler Stadium at 7:30 p.m.