On Friday, I was at Ranger stadium in Spring Branch, TX as the Smithson Valley Rangers (9-1, 6-1) hosted the Jay Mustangs (7-3, 3-2) in the 1st round of the 2017 Texas high school football playoffs. I chose this game because Smithson Valley is the closest school to my house; it’s 6 miles away. I pass the school and stadium every morning when I leave home and it always excites me when the stadium lights are on bright and early at 7am. I also chose this game because of 5 particular players.
For Jay, it is junior quarterback Jacob Zeno who has 2,062 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, the junior running back, Jaylin Hastings, who has 1,843 rushing yards with 16 touchdowns, and sophomore wide receiver, Marcus Alcarez, who has 33 receptions for 655 yards with 9 touchdowns.
For Smithson Valley, it is junior quarterback Levi Williams who has 1,744 passing yards with 20 touchdowns and 4 interceptions and senior wide receiver, Tre’von Moehrig-Woodward, who has 568 receiving yards with 9 touchdowns. Moehrig-Woodward committed to play college football at TCU.
So, usually, I don’t do any stat research because I enjoy going in blind, but since this is the playoffs and I have also seen these names quite often in my Twitter feed, I felt I had to look them up!
Would you believe that this is only the 2nd meeting between these teams? Smithson Valley defeated Jay in 2005 by a score of 34 to 14. I am not expecting a similar score this year and wouldn’t be surprised if Jay ended up beating Smithson Valley. Jay is riding high after beating the Brandeis Broncos in a winner goes to the playoffs and the loser thinks about next season. Jay could be the Cinderella story of 2017; do you remember in 2013 when the Johnson Jaguars beat the Steele Knights in a playoff game and Steele was supposed to play for a state championship? Johnson’s story ended in the state semifinals when the Katy Tigers shut them out by a score of 52 to 0.
One of things I enjoy about Smithson Valley football is they have tremendous support, they are prepared, they don’t make costly penalties, they will make you pay when you turn the ball mover, they are extremely well coached, and they are one of the tops in the area. They handed the Judson Rockets there only loss and Judson could very easily win another state championship this year. They always have a beautiful spread of food in the press-box, but I won’t partake because I prefer being on the field.
The last Jay game I worked was in 2015; it was the week after the incident. If you don’t know what I am referring to, good; please don’t google it. If you do know what I am referring to, then I don’t have to tell you what happened. All I will say it that happened in the past and I am here to talk about the Jay Mustangs right now. Something funny happened to me that night in 2015. I was alone in the top floor press-box and a very nice NISD employee joined me for a few minutes. We were chit-chatting and he asked me if I had any kids. So, at that point, I knew Nina, my wife was pregnant, but only the two of us knew. I really wanted to tell him, but with a straight face, I said no! The quarterback for Jay in 2015 was some kid named Moses Reynolds; he is now at Texas A&M. You know something; Jay always has talented quarterbacks, running backs, and other talented athletes from other sports. One of my friends, Ken Skaer, has a Facebook page called the John Jay Sports Blog Hall of Fame; check it out…lots of familiar names are in it.
Last Sunday, I had a really bad back spasm; I was vacuuming and bent down to pick something up. On the day of the game, I didn’t think I was going to be able to make. Yes, I am stubborn and didn’t see a doctor since usually it gets better after a few days. I need rest and no bending but that can’t happen because I have a very active 18 month old. So, basically, I was a game time decision and a few hours before kick-off, I decided it may be good for me to be out and walking around. It hurts more when I sit still. Today, it is actually feeling much better and I did end up scheduling an appointment for Monday for my doctor, but will cancel in the morning. How can they help me if I don’t have any pain?
Don’t get me wrong, while I was at the game, I was still in pain and tried my best not to show my emotions to anybody. I did a lot of walking and was very glad that the ride home was less than 15 minutes. And, when I arrived home, Nina and Niko are always sound asleep. Except for Friday night; as I was getting ready to head upstairs, I heard Niko cry and heard Nina rescue him; she told me that was the 2nd time he woke-up. He wanted momma and momma milk. He woke-up again for momma and momma milk around 3:30am and I put him back in the crib an hour later. Not the best sleep for the three of us. Oh, I think Niko wasn’t feeling well or is teething again.
OK, enough about my child and wife; that is why I have www.thedadspeaks.com.
Of the 5 players I mentioned earlier, I was most impressed with Tre’von Moehrig-Woodward for the Smithson Valley Rangers. He had 2 receptions for 105 yards with 1 touchdown; that touchdown was for 80 yards, and 1 carry for 25 yards. He played offense, defense, returned kicks, and picked up all of his teammates to get them to the game. TCU is really lucky to have him and no matter what position he will play, he can do it.
Smithson Valley led Jay at halftime by a score of 37 to 3. For the 2nd half, I had a feeling that Smithson Valley would be very happy to run the ball and milk the clock; I have seen them do that many times. But, they didn’t do that. The 2nd stringers got some really good playoff experience in. The final score was Smithson Valley 37 and Jay 9. Smithson Valley is in prime playoff mode and they are destined for a state championship.
I think Jay was a bit overmatched but they never gave up and I never saw them get annoyed. They are a young team and I am looking forward to next season for them.
Before the game started, I got the chance to talk with Gary Gutierrez, the head coach at Jay, and he was super nice to me. I am not the type of journalist who relies on interviewing coaches or players and he was probably glad I didn’t get my phone out!
I always tend to hang out on the home side-line, but for this game, I chose to hang out on the visitors side-line. The main reason I did that is Larry Hill, the head football coach at Smithson Valley, is sort of superstitious. When I did stats for Smithson Valley games in the past, the pre-game interview was always pre-recorded a few days prior in his office. I guess he was worried we would give inside information to the other team. He also doesn’t really know who I am and if he saw me with my camera, he may not like that. I didn’t want to take a chance and also the Jay side-line was a lot less busy.
When the game ended, I was slowly making my way toward the exit to where the Smithson Valley Rangers football team locker room is. As I glanced behind me, I saw some of the players running toward the exit at almost full speed and they didn’t seem to care about me and my poor little back. So, I stopped and exited thru the visitors locker room since the Jay players were still on the field since for some of them, it will be the last time they play football.
The Smithson Valley Rangers will play the Austin Westlake Chaparrals at Alamo stadium on Friday at 1pm.
Next week, I will be at New Braunfels Canyon Cougar stadium as the Austin Vandegrift Vipers play the Steele Knights in the 2nd round of the 6A Division II Playoffs. I am really excited to finally get my chance to see the Knights.
If you want to share my photos, all I ask is for you to either give me credit or tag me on Twitter @statmanspeaks or Facebook @ The Mark Speaks. The entire photo galley for the game can be found here: https://thestatmanspeaks.smugmug.com/High-School-Football/Football-Games-2017/Jay-at-Smithson-Valley-11172017/.
Here are some pictures from Friday night: