San Marcos claims first district championship in 14 years with win over Bowie

Photo by Gerald Castillo

San Marcos Football

AUSTIN — Soaked from a victory bath, head coach Mark Soto found himself and the San Marcos program on the winning side of history Thursday night.

The Rattlers (9-1, 5-0 14-6A) battled back from a 16-3 first-half deficit and knocked off the Austin Bowie Bulldogs, 31-26, to take home the District 14-6A championship — Their first district title since 2003. 

“(This group) is just resilient,” Soto said. “We tell them to be pros, be persistent, be over achievers. They did all of that today. They’re pros.”

The night ended with San Marcos holding the district trophy high for the San Marcos community in the stands. But the Rattlers found themselves in a hole early into the matchup.

Down 16-3, San Marcos struggled offensively until junior running back Jamon Johnson found the edge behind a pair of down-field blocks. The 28-yard touchdown run brought the game within one possession with the Rattlers set to open the second half on offense.

With Bowie leading 16-10, Johnson and senior safety Demarcus Hall were deep to return the opening kickoff of the second half. A deep kick forced Johnson to field the ball one yard into the end zone. With Hall leading the way, Johnson found a seam down the left sideline and broke away for 101 yards. The touchdown not only gave San Marcos the lead but completely shifted momentum in favor of the Rattlers.

“(That return) was really exciting because I mean, I know it changed the momentum of the game,” Johnson said. “You know, that changed how everyone saw the game.”

On the ensuing kickoff, Bowie fumbled the ball and the Rattlers found themselves with the best field position they had all night. Two plays later, senior quarterback Prudy Calderon got the edge and extended the San Marcos lead to 24-16.

Mistakes continued to pile up the following drive when a fourth-down punt attempt went wrong for the Bulldogs. A bad snap gave Rattler defenders the opportunity to close in and make a play on the punter. San Marcos started its second straight possession deep into Bowie territory.

On the following play, Calderon got outside of the defense from eight yards out and stretched the ball past the pylon. In less than three minutes, San Marcos had flipped the script and didn’t look back.

“This is a special group,” Calderon said. “I’ve never seen a group like this. Through everything in the past couple years. The energy with this team is always so high. We’re just a play away from going off and making 20-straight back to back. So you know, it’s not easy but it’s a blessing to play with a team like this.”

An emotional Soto spoke with his players following the win about the power of love. A love for one another, the community and the families surrounding the program. It has been five years since Soto took over for the Rattlers. And six seasons later, this group will forever be able to say they brought home a district championship for the city of San Marcos.

San Marcos Daily Record

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