One of the intrinsic values of interscholastic athletics is that they offerstudents an opportunity to learn things that will resonate long after they graduate from high school.
When kept in perspective and that's the key athletics can be one of the best classrooms and labs on a high school campus. That's why the best coaches are also outstanding teachers and exemplary mentors whose influence extends beyond the field house.
Such is the culture at Brandeis, where John Campbell has headed the football program since the Northside ISD school opened in 2008.
Brandeis has been the talk of high school football in the San Antonio area this week after its dramatic 12-10 win over rival O'Connor last Saturday. But, really, the word dramatic doesn't even begin to capture the excitement of the game's final seconds.
The Broncos won the game on a 30-yard field goal by junior Patricio Botello with no time left, after the O'Connor bench was penalized on what would have been the last play of the game.
Our coaches have taught us never to give up and to always keep pushing, senior running back Dayden Wooster said.
Brandeis, which improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in District 27-5A, plays Stevens in another league game at 7 p.m. Saturday at Farris Stadium.
Botello's game-winning kick against O'Connor came after Chandler Coleman booted a 29-yard field goal to put the Panthers ahead 10-9 with only eight seconds left. What followed will be cussed and discussed by O'Connor and Brandeis fans for years to come.
Botello moved from Monterrey, Mexico last year
With the ball at the Broncos' 26 after a pooch kickoff following Coleman's field goal, Brandeis quarterback Brian Chapman threw a short pass to Larry Stephens, who lateraled to Wooster.
Wooster then lateraled to Peyton Hall. Players on the O'Connor bench started running onto the field just when it appeared that Hall was going down, but he managed to get off one more lateral to Wooster.
Wooster made his way to the Panthers' 26 before he was tackled.
The bench infraction against O'Connor moved the ball to the Panthers' 13, well within Botello's range. His winning kick brought a roar from the Brandeis stands and silenced the stunned O'Connor fans.
I was very nervous but my teammates calmed me down when I went on the field, said Botello, who is playing his second season on the Brandeis varsity after moving with his family from Monterrey, Mexico, last year. He also was a standout on the school's soccer team last season.
You just can't give up because you never know what may happen, Botello said. That penalty really helped us.
Botello joined the football team midway through the 2012 season after soccer coach Brian Maher, who works with the Broncos' kickers, saw him kick a soccer ball.
I had him in the soccer period and I saw how good his leg was, Maher said. I asked him if he could kick a football and he said yes. So I brought him out one day just to see if he could do it, and I told him we were going to move him to the football team. He's been out there since then.
Victoryagainst O'Connor was 50th in Brandeis' history
The outcome of the Brandeis-O'Connor game demonstrates just how thin the line can be between victory and defeat.
There's a reason that we as taxpayers spend money on extracurricular activities, Campbell said this week. You kind of feel good in the adult role because you have a visible, real teachable moment where you can say, 'See, I told you so. You never give up. You fight it out to the end, because you never know.' I know all the coaches say that.
You play each play as if it's your last because you never know what is the most important moment in the game, and those are life lessons. You never know when you're going to get your break. You can't give up. You've got to keep fighting. In that game, who would have ever thought it would end like that? You can play another 20,000 ballgames before a situation like that occurs.
Campbell seized on another teachable moment Monday when he talked to his players about the pitfalls of dwelling on a victory too long.
Even though we're a relatively new program, we're fortunate that we've had the opportunity to be in some emotional games, though not one as dramatic as that one last Saturday, Campbell said. We've had to rebound and come back and play again. It's not like it's uncharted territory.
It's something that we try to pride ourselves on, moving on to the next one, business as usual kind of a thing. But without a doubt, it's a struggle. There's a degree of re-amping up your emotions.
Brandeis' scintillating win over O'Connor was its 50th in school history. The Broncos are 50-16 overall and 46-10 since finishing 4-6 in their first season.
Brandeis has made the playoffs in each of the past four seasons, and advanced to the state quarterfinals last year and in 2009. The 2009 team finished 12-2 and made history as the first from the San Antonio area to make the state quarterfinals in only the second year of the program's history.
Brandeis' 2009 team set bar high for Broncos
The Broncos have finished 9-3, 10-2 and 12-2 in the ensuing three seasons, winning two district titles and sharing a third crown.
I think, without a doubt, there's no way at that juncture we could have realized the impact of that season, Campbell said, referring to 2009. I wasn't going to say it was a shock, but everything was happening so fast.
After reflecting and being able to revisit several of these years, yeah, the expectations that they set, and the ceiling, so to speak, that group broke set the tone. The style of play that some of those kids brought to the table has definitely set the pace for everybody.
Two of the standouts on the 2009 team were running back Noah Copeland and linebacker Cody Rogers. Copeland now plays fullback at Navy, and Rogers starts at defensive end for UTSA. Another player on the 2009 squad, Quincy Adams, is a sophomore cornerback at Navy.
The rapid ascent of the Brandeis football program has galvanized the school's community, which includes neighborhoods that formerly fed O'Connor, Clark and Marshall.
That's really what we're proud of, Campbell said. It's not necessarily one specific game or even a culmination of everything that's gone on football-wise. It's kind of the growth of the Brandeis community and how athletics, not just football, has been an integral part of that process. This is a neat community.
Campbell's familiarity with the NISDmade him a leading candidate for the Brandeis job from the get-go. A 1990 Jay graduate, Campbell was an assistant coach at his alma mater for seven seasons before getting promoted to head coach in 2004.
He left Jay in 2007 to become head coach at Katy Taylor and returned to the NISD when Brandeis opened a year later.