SAN ANTONIO – Before O’Connor played Steele last Friday night, Panthers football coach David Malesky told his players that the outcome of the game would not define their season.

But after O’Connor stunned the Knights with a 42-30 victory on their home field, Malesky’s emotions told a different story.

“What a game,” a misty-eyed Malesky told reporters in a halting voice.

O’Connor, now 3-0, and Steele (1-2) were No. 2 and No. 3 in the KENS 5 Class 6A area rankings heading into the game. The victory was O’Connor’s first in four games against Steele, which hadn’t lost twice in the regular season since 2010.

Judson and O’Connor remained 1-2 in the KENS 5 Class 6A rankings, but Steele slipped to No. 6. Smithson Valley (3-0) moved to No. 3. The Knights face the challenge of having to bounce back against the Rangers in their District 27-6A opener Friday night at Lehnhoff Stadium.

Class 4A Somerset (3-0) climbed from No. 2 to No. 1 in the Sub-6A rankings after Kerrville Tivy lost to San Angelo Central in a 57-6 rout. Six teams in the Sub-6A rankings lost last week.

The game of the night last Friday was the O’Connor-Steele clash, and the Panthers pulled out all the stops to come out on top. They recovered two onside kicks after trailing 16-14 at the half and frustrated the Knights with their physical play and tenacity on both sides of the line.

“You’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do to win a game. The most important thing tonight was our kids, they never gave up,” Malesky said, his hoarse voice cracking with emotion. “They played from the beginning to the end.

“Offense wasn’t good first half, defense was. Second half, defense wasn’t good, offense was. And that’s why football is such a great team game. It’s going to take everybody to win big football games.”

Although he tried to temper the Panthers’ emotions about the magnitude of the matchup with Steele, Malesky knew his players would use it as a barometer to measure how they stack up against one of the state’s elite programs.

“I don’t care if it is the third week of the season,” Malesky said. “When you’ve played as many times in the state finals and had some success, I mean, this is a big deal. I told our kids before the game that tonight is not going to define our football season. But tonight, this moment is huge.”

Steele dropped to 1-2, but has been one of the most consistent winners in the UIL’s largest classification for the past seven seasons. The Knights won the Class 5A Division II state championship in 2010, and have played in two other title games. They lost in the 6A Division II final last year, finishing 14-2.

Asked how difficult it is to beat Steele anywhere, Malesky said: “It don’t matter. Cow pasture. At our place, their place. It don’t matter. Yeah, it’s really difficult to beat these guys, but I cannot say enough about our guys and the effort that they showed from the beginning.

“We had a lot of things go bad. We could have fold our tent and said, well, tonight wasn’t our night. But these kids are about believing, about winning, and they came out here . . .”

O'Connor senior safety/wide receiver Millard Bradford scored on a 76-yard kickoff return in the second quarter of the Panthers' 42-30 victory against Steele.  

His voice fraught with emotion again as it trailed off, Malesky stepped away from reporters for a moment to compose himself again.

Malesky said his players remained upbeat at halftime, although their offense had gotten off to a slow start and they trailed by two.

“They were in there laughing. They were smiling in the locker room,” Malesky said. “Yeah, they were. They believed on Monday we were going to win this game, and they came out here and did everything they could to win. That’s exactly what they did.”

O’Connor senior quarterback Roel Sanchez overcame a shaky start to direct the offense with a steady hand in the second half. He finished with 287 yards of total offense, including 184 passing and two touchdowns. But Sanchez had three attempts intercepted, including a 99-yard pick-6 by JayVeon Cardwell in the second quarter.

Sanchez also rushed for 103 yards and three TDs. He credited his offensive line for jump-starting the offense in the second half.

“Our O-line did their job, and I came out to a rough start,” Sanchez said. “I told them, ‘I take blame for every turnover’ and as long as they kept up their hard work and they got their job done, I was going to start clicking. I promised them that and we were able to come out with the win because of that.”

Malesky also praised his offensive line.

“Those big jokers up front, at times, it looked like a rugby scrum out there,” he said. “There’s not one person tonight that stands out above anybody else. Those 70 guys over there in those white jerseys, they’re the ones who won this game and found a way to get it done.”

KENS 5 Area High School Football Rankings

Class 6A

1. Judson (3-0)

Judson coach Sean McAuliffe, with junior defensive lineman Demarvin Leal, left, and senior quarterback Julon Williams, is 32-10 in three seasons with the Rockets. 

District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 1
Last week: Defeated Roosevelt 62-21
The skinny: Dynamic quarterback Julon Williams accounted for 336 of the Rockets’ 542 yards of total offense, completing 6 of 9 passes for 268 yards and five touchdowns and rushing for 68 yards and two scores. All five of his scoring strikes went to different receivers.
This week: at No. 5 New Braunfels, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

2. O’Connor (3-0)
Ranking last week: No. 2
Last week: Defeated Steele 42-30
The skinny: O’Connor coach David Malesky said he told his players before playing Steele that the game wouldn’t define their season. After the Panthers stunned the Knights, an emotional Malesky said the victory was “huge.”
This week: vs. No. 9 Johnson, Saturday, 7 p.m., Farris Stadium

3. Smithson Valley (3-0)
District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 4
Last week: Round Rock 50-10
The skinny: Smithson Valley coach Larry Hill recorded his 250th career victory with the rout of the Dragons. Hill is 250-78 in 27 seasons overall and 240-67 in 25 years at Smithson Valley.
This week: vs. No. 6 Steele, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Lehnhoff Stadium

4. Clemens (3-0)
District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 6
Last week: Defeated Laredo Alexander 52-0
The skinny: Running back Kyle Lewis rushed for 130 yards and two touchdowns, and the Clemens defense held Alexander to 97 total yards.
This week: at East Central, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

5. New Braunfels (3-0)
Ranking last week: No. 7
Last week: Defeated San Marcos 54-42
The skinny: Unicorns senior quarterback Ryan Redding turned in another outstanding performance, passing for 202 yards and two touchdowns and running for 122 yards and two TDs.
This week: vs. No. 1 Judson, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Unicorn Stadium

6. Steele (1-2)
Ranking last week: No. 3
Last week: Lost to O’Connor 42-30
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. 3 Smithson Valley, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Lehnhoff Stadium

7. Reagan (2-1)
District: 26-6A
Ranking last week: No. 5
Last week: Lost to Harlingen 22-20
The skinny: The Cardinals sacked Reagan quarterback Cade Cogburn for a safety, breaking a 20-20 tie with 43 seconds left. Harlingen sealed the victory by recovering a fumble on the ensuing kickoff.
This week: vs. Buda Hays, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Comalander Stadium

8. Wagner (3-0)
District: 27-6A
Ranking last week: No. 9
Last week: Defeated Marshall 29-21
The skinny: Quarterback Tobias Weaver rushed for 166 yards and three touchdowns as the Thunderbirds remained unbeaten.
This week: vs. New Braunfels Canyon, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Rutledge Stadium

9. Johnson (2-1)
District: 26-6A
Ranking last week: No. 10
Last week: Beat Brennan 20-17
The skinny: Brennan outgained Johnson 407-219 in total offensive yardage and led 17-6 going into the fourth quarter, but the Jaguars pulled out the victory with touchdown runs by quarterback Mike Chandler and Justin Rodriguez in a span of 6:50.
This week: vs. No. 2 O’Connor, Saturday, 7 p.m., Farris Stadium

10. Brandeis (2-1)
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Last week: Defeated Boerne Champion 49-33
The skinny: Brandeis quarterback Kyle Fitzgerald passed for 247 yards and three touchdowns, all to Jalen Griffin, and running back Marlon Flores-Flores rambled for 172 yards and two TDs. Griffin finished with 14 receptions for 180 yards and the Broncos piled up 513 total yards.
This week: vs. Madison, Saturday, 7 p.m., Comalander Stadium

Entering rankings: Brandeis (2-1)
Dropping out of rankings: Warren (2-1)

Sub-6A Area Rankings

1. Somerset (3-0)

Highly touted Somerset High School senior quarterback Zadock Dinkelmann, with Bulldogs head coach Sonny Detmer, his grandfather, committed to BYU in May. 

District: 15-4A/Division I
Ranking week: No. 2
Last week: Defeated McCollum 27-0
The skinny: The Bulldogs scored all their points in the first half and gave up only 137 yards for the game.
This week: vs. Boerne, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Somerset

2. Kerrville Tivy (2-1)
District: District 26-5A
Ranking last week: No. 1
Last week: Lost to San Angelo Central 57-6
The skinny: The Antlers were outgained 547-165 in total offensive yardage in their final tuneup before the start of district play this week.
This week: at Dripping Springs, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

3. Boerne Champion (1-2)
Ranking last week: No. 3
Last week: Lost to Brandeis 49-33
The skinny: The Chargers trailed only 28-21 after three quarters, but were overwhelmed in the final period by a Brandeis team that gained 513 total yards.
This week: at Medina Valley, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

4. Navarro (3-0)
13-4A Division II
Ranking last week: No. 5
Last week: Defeated Gonzales 35-10
The skinny: Quarterback Will Eveld led the Panthers with 131 rushing yards, and running backs Jared Cooper (107) and Will Reyna (104) scored two touchdowns each.
This week: at La Grange, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

5. Boerne (3-0)
14-4A Division I
Ranking last week: No. 10
Last week: Defeated Holy Cross 24-9
The skinny: Quarterback Brooks Klutts hit 15 of 21 passes for 214 yards and three touchdowns to help Boerne remain undefeated.
This week: at Somerset, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

6. Alamo Heights (1-2)
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Last week: Defeated Victoria West 42-14
The skinny: Mules quarterback Reed Andersen completed 27 of 36 passes for 370 yards and four touchdowns, two each to William Dehlinger (8-121) and Nik Proctor (7-121).
This week: vs. Marble Falls, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Alamo Heights

7. Canyon Lake (2-1)
District: District 14-4A Division I
Ranking last week: No. 6
Last week: Lost to Giddings 28-23
The skinny: Canyon Lake drew to within five points with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Benjamin Fulton to J.T. Greene with 3:09 left, but Giddings held on for the victory.
This week: vs. Wimberley, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Fischer

8. Brackenridge (2-1)
Ranking last week: Not ranked
Last week: Defeated Kennedy 10-7
The skinny: Jose Reyes’ 25-yard field with 8:17 left gave the Eagles a 10-7 left that stood for the rest of the game.
This week: vs. Jefferson, Friday, 7:30 p.m. Alamo Stadium

9. Central Catholic (3-0)
TAPPS Division I/District 2
Ranking last week: No. 9
Last week: Defeated Harlandale 44-3
The skinny: Quarterback Nick Chavez passed for 153 yards and three touchdowns, and Zach Davidsmeyer ran for 126 yards and two scores, leading Central to a blowout victory over winless Harlandale.
This week: vs. Devine, Friday, 7:30 p.m., Central Catholic

10. Highlands (2-1)
Ranking last week: No. 4
Last week: Lost to Burbank 35-32
The skinny: The Bulldogs stunned the Owls, taking a 35-16 lead after three quarters. Highlands scored the game’s final 16 points, but Burbank held on for one of its biggest victories in years.
This week: vs. Lanier, Thursday, 7 p.m., Alamo Stadium

Entering rankings: Alamo Heights (1-2), Brackenridge (2-1)
Dropping out of rankings: Antonian (2-1), Holy Cross (2-1)