Although Steele is on a three-game skid for the first time since its first varsity season in 2006, Judson coach Sean McAuliffe has no illusions about the challenge the undefeated Rockets face this week.

“I don’t care what their record is,” McAuliffe said on Tuesday. “I know they’re good.”

And so is Judson, which rolled to a 49-7 victory against New Braunfels in their District 27-6A opener last Friday. The Rockets (4-0) are No. 1 in the KENS 5 area Class 6A rankings, and No. 2 in the Associated Press’ 6A state poll.

Judson and Steele (1-3) meet in a 27-6A clash at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Rutledge Stadium. The Knights won last year’s game 30-9 and are 7-0 in the series.

“I think it’s more of a neighborhood thing,” McAuliffe said. “These kids grow up playing on the same Pop Warner teams. Some of them have family ties where an entire family is friends with another kid’s family. That always makes it a fun deal. Anytime you get to play good people, you get excited to play them.

“Steele is one of those programs that’s a top-notch program. If you look at their record in the last seven-year stretch, they’re right up there with the rest of the powerhouses in the state. We’re excited about the opportunity to play against them.”

Before falling to O’Connor 42-30 on Sept. 15, the Knights hadn’t lost two regular-season games in the same year since 2010. They stumbled out to a 1-2 start that season before reeling off a 13-game winning streak that was capped with a victory in the 5A Division II state final. Steele has lost in two other title games since then.

Judson senior Julon Williams, on the go in Friday night's 65-45 win over Lake Travis, has been the Rockets' starting quarterback since his freshman year.

The Knights opened 27-6A play last week with a 43-20 loss to Smithson Valley, which was 0-3 against Steele. The defeat snapped the Knights’ 41-game district winning streak, which started after a 38-34 setback to Kerrville Tivy on Oct. 23, 2009.

Back then, junior quarterback Johnny Manziel, who went on to win the Heisman Trophy at Texas A&M, scored the winning touchdown with 4:00 left. McAuliffe was Tivy’s defensive coordinator in 2009, and moved to Judson in 2012 when Antlers head coach Mark Smith was hired to head the Rockets’ program.

McAuliffe has gone 36-10 and led Judson to the state semifinals twice since succeeding Smith in 2014, but he is 0-3 against Steele.

Although the Rockets are clear favorites against the Knights this season, McAuliffe pointed to last year’s meeting between the rivals as proof of Steele’s resilience and mettle.

“I do know this,” McAuliffe said. “Last year we played them when they didn’t have the Xavier Martin kid (at quarterback), and the kid they put out there had a career night against us. At the end of the day, it’s us playing a really good team, not necessarily one player.”

With Martin nursing an injured ankle, senior backup Cody Massey stepped into the quarterback slot and completed 11 of 17 passes for 181 yards and two TDs.

Judson is led by highly touted senior quarterback Julon Williams, who has been the Rockets’ starter since the eighth game of his freshman season (2014). He made his first start against Steele, which pulled out a 23-22 win on a 1-yard run by L.G. Williams with 16 seconds left.

First-year Steele head coach David Saenz will rely on the leadership of safety Caden Sterns, left, and running back Brenden Brady to keep the Knights among the state's elite.

The star of McAuliffe’s first four-year senior class, Williams has gone 32-7 as Judson’s starter. He has completed 38 of 57 passes, with only one interception, for 920 yards and 11 TDs, and has rushed for 542 yards and eight more scores this season. He is averaging 11.5 yards per carry.

Williams has racked up those impressive numbers despite sitting most of the second half in blowouts against Roosevelt (62-21) and New Braunfels the past two weeks.

“I’m blessed,” McAuliffe said. “I know coaches that have been coaching a whole lot longer than I have and they’ve never had a four-year starter. This program is reaping the benefits of an unbelievably gifted kid. I used to think that Johnny (Manziel) was the most competitive kid I’ve been around, but I would put Julon right up there with him. It’s scary.”

One of the state’s top college recruits, Williams committed to the University of Houston two days after leading Judson to a 65-45 win over Lake Travis in their season opener. UH recruited him as a slotback.

“For us, he’s the complete package,” McAuliffe said. “Obviously, he’s very gifted when he’s running the ball. His passing number are super impressive. When you think about it, over the last two weeks, he’s played essentially a half of football and he’s still putting up close to 400 yards of total offense.

“A lot of that has to do with his natural ability, and him being in our system for four years. The guy that coaches him every single day, Rodney Williams, our OC (offensive coordinator), has done a great job of developing him. It sure is nice having No. 2 on our side.”

Judson was picked by Texas Football magazine to win the 6A Division I state title this season. The Rockets beat Brennan 44-28 a week after winning their opener against Lake Travis.

KENS 5 Area High School Football Rankings

Class 6A

1. Judson (4-0)
Ranking last week: No. 1
Last week: Defeated New Braunfels 49-7
The skinny: Elusive quarterback Julon Williams sparked the Rockets to another lopsided victory in their District 27-6A opener, completing 9 of 12 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns and rushing for 102 yards on only nine carries (11.3) average and two more TDs.
This week: vs. No. 6 Steele, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Rutledge Stadium

2. O’Connor (4-0)
Ranking last week: No. 2
Last week: Defeated Johnson 38-24
The skinny: The Panthers trailed Johnson 14-0 after one quarter and 24-14 at the half, but they roared back with 24 unanswered points in the second half. O'Connor did not yield a single yard in the last two quarters. Roel Sanchez completed 9 of 14 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns, and Treyshaen Patterson rushed for 135 yards and one TD.
This week: vs. Taft, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Farris Stadium

3. Smithson Valley (4-0)
District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 3
Last week: Defeated Steele 43-20
The skinny: The Rangers started District 27-6A play with a bang, stunning Steele with 23 unanswered points after trailing 14-13 at halftime.
This week: vs. East Central, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Ranger Stadium

4. Clemens (4-0)
District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 4
Last week: Defeated East Central 35-0
The skinny: The Buffaloes outgained the Hornets 270-64 in the District 27-6A opener for both teams. East Central finished with only three first downs.
This week: vs. Wagner, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Lehnhoff Stadium

5. Reagan (3-1)
District: 26-6A
Ranking last week: No. 7
Last week: Defeated Buda Hays 31-21
The skinny: Travis Sthele helped the Rattlers bounce back from their loss to Harlingen, hitting 16 of 27 passes for 213 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receiver Drew Ureste finished with six catches for 97 yards and one TD.
This week: vs. MacArthur, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Heroes Stadium

6. Steele (1-3)

District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 6
Last week: Lost to Smithson Valley 43-20
The skinny: The loss to the Panthers marks the first time since 2010 that Steele has lost two games in the regular season. After a 1-2 start in 2010, the Knights went on to finish 14-2 and win the Class 5A Division II state championship.
This week: vs. No. 1 Judson, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Rutledge Stadium

7. Johnson (2-2)
District: 26-6A
Ranking last week: No. 9
Last week: Lost to O’Connor 38-24
The skinny: The Jaguars led O’Connor 14-0 after one quarter and 24-14 at intermission, but they got outscored 24-0 in the second half.
This week: vs. Roosevelt, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Comalander Stadium

8. Brandeis (3-1)
Ranking last week: No. 10
Last week: Defeated Madison 30-28
The skinny: Quarterback Kyle Fitzgerald and running back Marlon Flores-Flores accounted for 474 of the Broncos’ 515 total yards. Flores-Flores fueled the running game with 235 yards on 23 carries (10.2 average)
This week: vs. Clark, Saturday, 7 p.m., Farris Stadium

9. Churchill (3-1)
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Last week: Defeated Warren 21-14
The skinny: Chargers quarterback Derek Perez passed for 121 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 135 yards and another score
This week: vs. Lee, Saturday, 7 p.m., Heroes Stadium

10. New Braunfels (3-1)
District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 5
Last week: Lost to Judson 49-7
The skinny: The Unicorns were outgained 498-151 by the Rockets in total offensive yardage.
This week: at New Braunfels Canyon, Thursday, 7 p.m.

Entering the rankings: Churchill (3-1)
Dropping out of the rankings: Wagner (3-1)


1. Navarro (4-0)
13-4A Division II
Ranking last week: No. 4
Last week: Defeated La Grange 42-7
The skinny: The beat goes on for the Panthers, who intercepted five passes and finished with 404 rushing yards in their rout of the Leopards in La Grange. Navarro has won 27 consecutive regular-season games.
This week: vs. Refugio, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Panther Stadium

2. Boerne (4-0)
14-4A Division I
Ranking last week: No. 5
Last week: Defeated Somerset 35-30
The skinny: Quarterback Brooks Klutts hit 14 of 22 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns, for Boerne, which overcame deficits of 14-0 after one quarter and 30-21 at the half. Klutts threw two TD passes in the third quarter to rally the Greyhounds.
This week: vs. Bandera, Thursday, 7 p.m., Boerne

3. Alamo Heights (2-2)
District: 26-5A
Ranking last week: No. 6
Last week: Defeated Marble Falls 42-14
The skinny: Mules quarterback Reed Andersen riddled Marble Falls with his pinpoint passing, hitting 19 of 22 attempts for 385 yards and three touchdowns in the District 26-5A opener for the Mules. Alamo Heights has won back-to-back games by identical 42-14 scores.
This week: at Kerrville Tivy, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

4. Somerset (3-1)
15-4A/Division I
Ranking last week: No. 1
Last week: Lost to Boerne 35-30
The skinny: The Bulldogs led 21-0 after one quarter and 30-21 at intermission, but was held scoreless in the second half by the Greyhounds.
This week: at Harlandale, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Harlandale Memorial Stadium

5. Pleasanton (4-0)
District 15-4A Division I
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Last week: Defeated Bandera 40-6
The skinny: Eagles quarterback Johnny Zamora stood out in the victory against Bandera, completing 13 of 16 passes for 195 yards and four touchdowns.
This week: at Carrizo Springs, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

6. Medina Valley (3-1)
District: 26-5A
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Last week: Defeated Boerne Champion 21-14
The skinny: The Panthers got outgained by Champion 395-255 in total offensive yardage, but they finished ahead where it counts – the scoreboard.
This week: at Marble Falls, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

7. Kerrville Tivy (2-2)
District: 26-5A
Ranking last week: No. 2
Last week: Lost to Dripping Springs 40-7
The skinny: The Antlers found the going tough in their District 26-5A opener against the preseason favorite.
This week: vs. Alamo Heights, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Kerrville

8. Boerne Champion (1-3)
Ranking last week: No. 3
Last week: Lost to Medina Valley 21-14
The skinny: The Chargers are on a two-game skid.
This week: vs. Lockhart, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Boerne

9. Central Catholic (4-0)
TAPPS Division I/District 2
Ranking last week: No. 9
Last week: Defeated Devine 28-2
The skinny: Quarterback Nick Chavez had a crisp game in the Buttons’ victory, completing 6 of 9 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns, two to Jared Torralva.
This week: vs. Eagle Pass Winn, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Central Catholic

10. Highlands (3-1)
Ranking last week: No. 10
Last week: Defeated Lanier 35-14
The skinny: The Owls’ duo of quarterback Joseph Palafos and running back Rene Palomino was too much for the Voks. Palafos completed 16 of 25 passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns, and Palomino rushed for 231 yards and three scores.
This week: Idle

Entering rankings: Medina Valley (3-1), Pleasanton (4-0)
Dropping out of rankings: Brackenridge (2-2), Canyon Lake (2-2)