Friday, Oct 21 at 5:00 AM
This time, Steele left no doubts.
Led by senior quarterback Tommy Armstrong, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for two others, the Knights rolled to a 34-20 victory against Judson in a District 25-5A clash Thursday night at Rutledge Stadium.
The game, which drew a sellout crowd of 10,000 and was televised by Fox Sports Southwest, had been one of the most anticipated in the San Antonio area this season.
Steele edged Judson 25-24 in double overtime last year, with Armstrong scoring the game-winning points on a two-point conversion. Judson nose guard Myles Bryant, a senior this season, said he stopped the Knights’ quarterback short of the goal line.
Steele went on to win the Class 5A Division II state championship in only its fifth varsity season. The Knights’ victory Thursday night was their 21st in a row since they lost to Kerrville Tivy in their third game last year.
“Last year going in and getting that double-overtime win, everyone said, ‘Oh, you got lucky. It was a fluke,’” Armstrong said. “But this year we made a statement. That’s what I told my team: We’ve just got to come out and make a statement, and play smash-mouth football. And that’s what we did.”
The game was especially significant for Steele coach Mike Jinks because it was his first against Judson at Rutledge Stadium, where he played quarterback for the Rockets in 1987, 1988 and 1989 under D.W. Rutledge.
“I really took a moment to just give thanks for this community, these coaches, what they meant to me, not only as a man, but in my professional career,” Jinks said. “I can’t ever repay that. I wanted to be here. I got a chance to see Coach Rutledge and say, ‘Thank you.’ It was an awesome feeling.”
Steele hasn’t skipped a beat despite losing six Division I players to graduation, including all-everything running back Malcolm Brown, who signed with Texas. Brown watched the second half of Thursday night’s game from the sideline near the end zone on Steele’s side.
He even did pushups with the Steele ROTC on the track after the Knights’ last TD.
Steele 8-0 overall and 3-0 in 25-5A
While Brown turned heads, the night belonged to Armstrong, who has committed to Nebraska.
“He has worked hard to improve and he gets better and better with each game,” Jinks said.
Steele improved to 8-0 overall and 3-0 in 25-5A play, while Judson slipped to 6-2 and 1-2.
“It’s just incredible,” Armstrong said. “It’s just tradition. Last year we had D-I prospects, but we also had backups who learned a lot by backing up some great athletes. We just had people step up.
“Our defense got stops, important stops, and our offense capitalized on the ones that we needed to capitalize on. We learned from the first half that we were going to have to be physical for the entire game.”
Armstrong was clearly the difference-maker, directing the Knights’ offense with the poise and confidence of a quarterback who has grown accustomed to playing in big games.
“Coach Jinks pretty much told me, ‘This year, you’re going to have to make plays. You have to make decisions. You have to lead the team this year,’” Armstrong said. “We have a bunch of leaders this year and I’m one of the important ones. I’ve just got to keep just working hard, and teach what I can teach and learn what I can learn.
Steele never trailed
Armstrong completed 8 of 14 passes for 117 yards and ran for 113 yards on 21 carries.
He had TD passes of 24 yards to Thaddeos Thompson and 28 yards to C.J. Lynch. Armstrong scored on a 1-yard sneak on the game’s first possession, putting Steele ahead to stay.
Judson tailback Quaylon Jones stunned the Knights with a 62-yard TD on the Rockets’ first play from scrimmage, but the Rockets missed the extra-point kick.
The Knights led only 14-13 midway through the second quarter when Armstrong scored his second TD on a 36-yard run. Armstrong showed his skills as a crafty runner on the play, reversing his field after rolling right and sprinting down the left sideline for the score.
Jones, who scored two TDs, led all rushers with 151 yards on 27 carries, but he had only 36 yards on 13 carries in the second half. After lining up in a five-man front in the first two quarters, Steele went back to its 4-3 base defense in the second half and effectively clogged the running lanes
Jones had squirted through earlier.
Jones’ second TD, a 1-yarder, and the conversion kick, pulled the Rockets to within 14-13 one play into the second period.
Steele had gone ahead 14-6 on Armstrong’s scoring strike to Thompson, who went high to grab the reception. The Knights led 14-6 after one quarter and 20-13 at the half.
Steele safety Huhn set up TD with interception
Armstrong’s TD pass to Lynch extended Steele’s lead to 27-13 with 3:41 left in the third period. Sophomore Justin Stockton scored the Knights’ last TD on a 9-yard run with 5:09 remaining. Safety Eric Huhn set up the score with an interception.
Stocktown, who saw considerable playing time as a freshman, finished with 111 yards and a 7.4 average.
“He’s just a tough guy,” Armstrong said. “Being a sophomore, last year being a freshman and stepping up and helping us win a state championship, he knows the expectations of Coach Jinks.
“He’s taking it to heart, just like the O-line and the whole team. He’s just coming out and doing what he has to do.”
The final TD of the game came on Judson quarterback Matt McCarty’s 51-yard pass to Jermaine Adams with 2:48 left.
By then, the celebration in the Steele stands was in full swing.
“We have great kids in Cibolo, Texas,” Jinks said. “We’ve started a little bit of tradition. Our kids expect to win. We play to win. They play the game the right way. I couldn’t be prouder of them."