The Real Friday Night Lights: A Look at a San Antonio’s HS Football Culture

We have to say: if there’s one thing that bridges the Southern nostalgia of “days gone by” with the absolute adrenaline of living-in-the-now, it’s the blood-pumping, late-night, glittering glory of Texas high school football.

A tradition that has created some of our culture’s most beloved stories (both real and fabled), Texas high school football is a yearly phenomenon that knits together cheering fans of every age, neighborhood, and demographic.

And it’s not just for the famed West Texas Midland-Odessa fans. Yes, high school football is alive and well in San Antonio, too.

Known by many as a “really big small town”, San Antonio’s big-city population and square mileage are offset by the strangely intimate feeling of close-knit familiarity. Because San Antonio doesn’t always “feel like a big city” (unless you happen to live in a downtown high-rise...which, if so, lucky you), every local football team feels more like the central anchor of an area than “just another area high school”.

Needless to say, this sort of small-town mentality makes everything surrounding football more personal. Wins feel more “hometown patriotic”, while classic rivalries are enough to make anyone’s blood boil (especially considering this district is one of the most competitive in the state). And this 2018-19 season will be no different.

As teams and coaches across the city have already begun putting in hours and hours of practice, conditioning, and strategy development, the time will soon come for the crowds to gather for the “no guts, no glory” attitude that comes with a loyal Friday night lights culture.

In no particular order, here is a look at just a few of San Antonio’s most acclaimed football programs (and the hard-working folks behind them).

Churchill Chargers - North Central San Antonio

Image Courtesy of Urban Spotlight San Antonio

Over the past 50 years of San Antonio football, only three teams have claimed the honor of winning the state championship title. And the Churchill Chargers claimed a spot among them in 1976, leaving a long-standing tradition of football-tinged memories and pride for both current students and alumni. Led by head coach and athletic director Ron Harris, the Chargers still hold their own as one of the top football programs in the area, showing their stuff especially during rivalry games (vs. the Clark Cougars and Lee Volunteers). This rivalry (the famed "Gucci Bowl") will kick off the season with a bang on August 30th at 7:00 PM.

Brandeis Broncos - Northwest San Antonio

Image Courtesy of Marvin Pfeiffer

Boasting a motto, “Perfection is unattainable, but if we strive for perfection; we can catch excellence,” the Brandeis Broncos are ready to show their orange and navy with pride on August 31st. Led by coach David Branscom (and ranked #139 in Texas by MaxPreps), the Brandeis varsity football team will face off against the Johnson Jaguars at 7:30 PM.

MacArthur Brahmas - Northeast San Antonio

Image Courtesy of Brahma News

The MacArthur Brahmas are not a force to be underestimated on the football field. With a bone to pick this year (after losing in the Week 1 6A Bi-District Semifinals to Westlake Austin), the MacArthur Brahmas hope to start their season strong on Friday, August 31st against the Marshall Rams (7:30 PM).

Brennan Bears - West San Antonio

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Dripping in black, white, and gold glory, the Brennan Bears have really shown their football stuff in the past several years, boasting positions as 2013 State Finalist and Four-time District Champions (2012-2015). In the 2017 season, the Bears finished with a 6-5 overall record and a perfect 5-0 in district play. And the roll is set to continue. According to one interview, head coach Stephen Basore “pleasantly surprised” by his team’s off-season and pre-season performance and is looking forward to a successful 2018-19 season. "I think we're really prepared. We've just got to stick together, hustle every play and work hard every day. We have a lot more chemistry than last year, but this year we figured out if we come together as a unit then we can get more things done,” Bussey said. The Bears’ first chance to shine will be on September 1st at 7:00 PM as they square off against the Reagan Rattlers.

Reagan Rattlers - North San Antonio

Image Courtesy of the Diamond backer Sports Association

Housing a relentlessly excellence-driven football culture (that in 2012 churned out NFL player Trevor Knight), the Reagan Rattlers are led by local coaching legend David Wetzel (one of the highest-paid coaches in the city). This football team ranks #80 in the state of Texas and will bleed the traditional green, black, and silver for the first time this season on September 1st at 7:00 PM against the Brennan Bears.

Clemens Buffaloes - Schertz/Cibolo

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Perched on the east side of San Antonio, Schertz, TX is a suburban “small town” that packs serious game against more central teams. Thanks to head coach Jared Johnston, the team is optimistic about its 2018-19 season (even given its tough early-season schedule against top area teams like Madison, MacArthur, Reagan, Smithson Valley, and their “Battle of 3009” rival Steele.) Watch the Buffaloes square off against the Mustangs on Friday, August 24th at 6:00 PM.

Johnson Jaguars - North San Antonio

Image Courtesy of Matthew Busch

Drawing “Jaguar Nation” to one united front, the Johnson Jaguars are a northside force to be reckoned with on the San Antonio football scene. With a TX state ranking of #101 (and a fierce determination to establish themselves on the local scene), this team has been a rallying point in north San Antonio. The team will kick off their season on Friday, August 31 at 7:30 PM against the Brandeis Broncos.

Steele Knights - Schertz/Cibolo

Image Courtesy of ok3spor

As one of the most prominent football programs in the city (and #28 in the state), the Steele “Knights” football team doesn’t seem worried about retaining that high status over the next few months (despite losing several strong senior players after last years’ graduation). Head coach David Saenz recently noted, “We lost quite a few guys who were on the back end last year, but we have guys who are ready to step up and show what they can do as well.” The Steele Knights will kick off their season by hosting O’Connor on Friday, August 31 at 7:30 PM.

Judson Rockets - Northeast San Antonio

Image Courtesy of Team Texas Elite

Despite being hailed as one of the top teams in the state, the Judson Rockets are starting the 2018-19 season with something to prove. After losing to Lake Travis in last year’s area finals, sources say that “frustration has fueled the Rockets’ off-season workouts”. It seems the Rockets are ready to take on the season with a vengeance. Sporting red and gray on their iconic jerseys, the Judson Rockets have been rising to the top since the late-1970s, thanks to coach Jerry Sanders. The school won its first state championship in 1983 and has been seemingly unstoppable ever since. The Judson Rockets kick off their season at 7:00 PM on Saturday, September 1st playing Cedar Springs.

O'Connor Panthers - West San Antonio

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Anyone who kept up with San Antonio football news last year knows this: the O’Connor Panthers’ loss to Lake Travis last year was practically a tragedy in and of itself. It was the Panthers’ only loss of the season (boasting an impressive 13-1), and it seems the team is readying itself this year to push into even more victorious territory. Under the guidance of head coach David Malesky, they just might do it. The Panthers will debut this season’s gold and navy on Friday, August 31st at 7:30 PM against the Steele Knights.

To see the full season schedule, click here!

If you’re interested in settling into one of these top-notch districts, we’d love to help get you started. Otherwise, San Antonio’s vast selection of neighborhoods means that no matter your price point and desired amenities, you can probably find what you’re looking for somewhere within the city. Connect with a lender, download our exclusive Buyer’s Guide, then contact an agent to get started!

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