A look inside San Antonio Brennan's rise to dominance.
Now that Texas high school football action only features ultra-elite teams, it’s easier to pinpoint exactly what type of reputation each remaining squad has made for themselves. Allen isn’t new to the state scene, and has been pegged as state favorites since week zero. Aledo has made a national splash week after week with eye-popping final scores. But when it comes to defense, what team comes to mind? If you’ve been awake for the past 14 weeks, the easy answer is San Antonio Brennan. And for good reason.
The Bears have spent their entire season picking apart offenses with the same ease that Aledo finds their way to the end zone, but the road to becoming the awe-inspiring threat they are today was not easy. That’s because this is just the fourth season in Brennan’s short history, and like many other new programs, establishing a reputation of any sort took time.
“Obviously, starting off 0-10 is kind of the bottom of the barrel,” said Brennan head coach Stephen Basore.
Fortunately for the Basore, that inaugural class knew they wanted to be taken seriously, and those strides to success came quick. In just their second season, Brennan made the playoffs, and in the following season they earned a ticket to a regional final.
You’ve got to take baby steps, and we laid the foundation,” said Basore. “We definitely went through some growing pains, but we’re happy with where we’re at now and we hope to keep going.”
A good handful of the players that will take the field this Friday against Houston Stratford began their varsity tenure as freshmen eager to prove themselves at the 4A level. Most of the players have had an impact on varsity for three or four years, so it’s no wonder that the Bears possess a cohesiveness that many coaches dream of.
That cohesiveness is reflected in a dominant offense led by standout quarterback Da’Shawn Key, but what’s even more terrifying is the force that is the Bears’ defense. Brennan is anchored by Division I defensive dreams Derick Roberson and Grant Watanabe. Roberson, a defensive end, will wear burnt orange for Texas next year, and middle linebacker Watanabe will play at Colorado. However, if you’ve seen any of Brennan’s final scores, you should understand that Roberson and Watanabe aren’t running the whole show. Brennan has allowed just 5 touchdowns in their perfect 14-0 season – Simply put, the Bears are a well-oiled machine.
“Our defense is playing as a unit. Yeah, those two guys are the ‘spearhead,’ if you will, but at the same time, there are a lot of kids that are talented on our defense,” said Basore. “They are all doing their jobs; they are all accountable for the gaps in the coverage.”
If there’s a gap in any aspect of Basore’s “unit,” his players shift gears to ensure that everything is flawless. During last week’s game against Leander Rouse, that meant the defense would have to donate talent to the running game. Defensive end Troy Irby helped patch up the offense when running back Daniel Wells went down with an ankle injury – Irby proved that hitting hard wasn’t his only forte; He went on to run the ball for 156 yards and one touchdown. Irby’s performance was so impressive that Basore isn’t opposed to letting Irby handle the ball again this weekend.
Basore believes Stratford’s squad is very similar to his own, but his team’s focus might actually be stronger than his defensive line. “We’ve had a plan and a vision and we’ve been able to follow up with that,” said Basore. The Bears might meet finally their match on Friday, but if Brennan’s short history repeats itself, this unit will not be easily moved. Doubters can argue that it takes years and years for most teams to develop a threatening reputation at the state level, but most teams aren’t San Antonio Brennan.
Samantha Emerson is a special contributor to Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.