Bear-ly recognizable
Bear-ly recognizable
2013-12-12 12:00:00

A look inside San Antonio Brennan's rise to dominance.

 By Samantha Emerson
 TexasFootball.com
   
As playoff caliber teams come forward, and the pool of schools still
competing at the high school level diminishes drastically, the once
friendly competitive spirit that loomed over regular season starts to
diminish as well. Of course,  every team has a growing target on their
back, but those negative sentiments aren’t  shared between two of the
teams still remaining in Texas high school football.  That’s because
the coaches at Scurry-Rosser and Fairfield share something more than
just tickets to the post season – They  share a namesake within a
deeply engrained history of football.
Scurry-Rosser head coach Jason Bachtel is the first cousin of John
Bachtel, head coach of Fairfield.  While Fairfield has seen more
success in recent seasons than Scurry-Rosser, the cousins delight in
the fact that both teams have made it to the post season. In fact,
both teams can claim a perfect 10-0 season, a feat that hasn’t
happened at Scurry-Rosser since 1993.
What makes the two teams so successful? For Scurry-Rosser, several
young players that have grown at the Varsity level since starting as
freshmen. For Fairfield, it’s an incredibly hungry group of seniors
that have worked to make a statement in playoffs for the past four
years. But for Jason and John, two key components to the teams’
success - and their success as coaches -  simply can’t be ignored.
Both Bachtel’s also have their fathers on staff.  Jason’s father Mark
has long been familiar in the high school football scene, coaching
under legends like Gordon Wood at Brownwood and Randy Allen of
Highland Park.  Mark took the reins at Brownwood after a stint at
Howard Payne University, and then went on to turn around the programs
at Wills Point and Sachse before retiring .  When his son Jason was
offered the head coaching gig and began establishing a staff at
Scurry-Rosser two years ago, he couldn’t pass up a long awaited
opportunity.
“My younger brother and my older brother both coached under him at
Wills Point, and I was the only one who hadn’t coached with him,” said
Jason. “I really thought I had lost that opportunity to coach under
him when he left Wills Point.”
Mark came on and the Wildcats suffered through two unimpressive
seasons before things started to turn around.  “The community is on
fire and now it’s electric. But then [you realize] you get to coach
with your dad,” said Jason. “We are the only two on staff that have
been there since the beginning when the worst of the worst was
happening.”
When Scurry-Rosser struggled through their 3-7 2011 season and then a
mediocre 5-5 season, Jason and Mark had support in East Texas.  “Jason
and I texted a lot, and I know Mark and my dad did too,” said
Fairfield coach John Bachtel.
Just like his brother Mark, Kent Bachtel has had plenty of high school
experience under his belt – Kent coached  for nearly forty years
before joining his son in Fairfield. Unlike Jason and Mark, John had
already spent five years under the leadership of his father at Midway
High School. John left to take on the head coaching gig at
Bosqueville, but when he wound up at Fairfield and was looking for
help on the defensive staff, he knew his father was just a phone call
away.  Kent came out of his short retirement to help his son, and is
so dedicated to the Indians that he drives from Waco to Fairfield 
for practices early in the week, and comes back each weekend to assist
his son from the press box.
Football runs deep in the family lineage, and wherever a Bachtel ends
up, another is sure to follow.
Before the group’s coaching careers kicked off, all four played for
Howard Payne University. Kent, Mark and John were offensive linemen,
but the final Bachtel led the team as a quarterback.
That difference in playing experience has carried over to their
coaching careers, and for Jason, his relationship with his father on
the sidelines has taken on a yin and yang persona. “I played
quarterback in college so I take the approach of a quarterback – laid
back, where you let things come to you. He’s the one that brings
energy and you can hear him a mile away. But the kids love it,” said
Jason.
And that affection for the elder Bachtel is evident in Fairfield as
well.  “As a coach, my dad taught me to treat players with respect,”
said John.  For the Fairfield duo, the Indians perfect season is a
dream come true, but Kent has instilled a greater vision for
leadership in his son. “With X’s and O’… we really might not be the
smartest, but if we can raise good young men, then that’s what we want
to do,” John explained. “If we can raise good football players then
that’s a bonus.”
Regardless of how the Indians and Wildcats fare this weekend, the
Bachtel family’s ever-expanding dynamic has made more of a lasting
impact than most 10-0 seasons. Mark coached his son Jason in high
school  at Wills Point, and Kent coached John at Midway. And now that
both fathers are coaching under their sons, the Bachtel name will
likely continue on.  Jason and John’s high school experiences are
being emulated by their own sons -  Jason’s son Talan is starting for
the Wildcats this season, and although John’s son just wrapped up his
7th grade season, he will most likely join his dad and grandfather on
the sidelines in two seasons.
With the constant Bachtel family ties that Texas high school football
has seen over the past forty years, it makes one wonder how strong the
bond truly is – or if Jason and John will ever decide to take a
different route than their fathers.  The coaches can both agree that
having a father’s leadership – and proven successful track records –
next to them on the sidelines is nothing short of a blessing.
“Both of our fathers have been very successful high school coaches,
and we want to be as successful as they were,” said Jason. “My dad was
the best hire I’ve ever made.”

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.

 




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