Photo by Gerald Castillo
San Marcos rolling on offense with ‘Rattler package’
Jamon Johnson really wanted to play quarterback.
Last month, the senior running back went to head coach Mark Soto with an idea. Other schools ran some version Wildcat, an offensive formation that shuffles skill position players around to let a ball carrier receive the snap. Why couldn’t San Marcos?
“Actually, we do have some plays like that,” Soto replied.
Soto calls it “the Rattler package.” He has Johnson line up a few feet behind the center and junior wide receiver/running back Takai Madgett join him in the backfield. Junior quarter Alex Garcia splits out wide as a receiver.
When the ball is snapped, Johnson and Madgett run a read option, disguising which one of them has the ball, and then dart up the field. Garcia is expected to block in case one of the runners cuts outside.
“I’m still getting used to it,” Garcia said.
San Marcos broke out the Rattler package at Lehnhoff Stadium last week against Cibolo Steele.
Johnson was already moving well early in the first quarter at Lehnhoff Stadium against Cibolo Steele last Friday. He had already gained 18 yards on five touches, with his last keeping the team’s drive alive — a 4-yard rush out of a punt fake on 4th and 1. Soto figured he could exploit the weakness in the Knights’ defense.
“Anytime you can get speed in the backfield, that’s a good thing,” Soto said. “Jamon was making plays, so we wanted to get the ball in his hands.”
On 1st and 10 from the Rattlers’ 44-yard line, Johnson received the direct snap and crossed the 50 before being brought down for a 7-yard gain.
“I get excited when we run it,” Johnson said. “I love playing quarterback.”
On 2nd and 3, Johnson handed the ball off to Madgett, who picked up another 12 yards and a first down.
“I just want to make plays,” Madgett said. “Whichever way I can get the ball.”
On the next play, San Marcos didn’t bother faking the handoff. After the snap, Madgett charged forward as the lead blocker, looking to open a hole for Johnson.
The senior zigged left, stiff-armed a defender and danced down the sideline before being pushed out of bounds at the Steele 5-yard line. The 32-yard carry was the longest play of the night for San Marcos.
“The quarterback is the one spot you can’t count on if you’re the defense,” Soto said. “You can count how many (receivers) a team has on one side or how many (running backs) they have back there. But you don’t know about the quarterback.”
The Knights eventually caught on, though. Madgett was stuffed on the next play for a 5-yard loss and the Rattlers moved him, Johnson and Garcia back to their natural positions. Johnson scored three plays later on a 2-yard touchdown run.
Soto said the team plans expand the package this week. Johnson said there’s a 75 percent chance he might toss a pass out of the formation. What are the chances Garcia catches the ball if it’s thrown his way?
“100 percent” Garcia said.
The Rattlers head back to Lehnhoff Stadium on Friday to take on Schertz Clemens at 7:30 p.m.