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Wagner and the Lost Art of Smashmouth Football

San Antonio Wagner first started as a football program in 2006. From 2006 to 2017 the team went a combined 51-78 that included a regional final appearance in 2010 as well as a winless season in 2013.

The school over the years in terms of athletics have been more known for their basketball than football. Wagner is home to NBA players such as Jordan Clarkson and Andre Roberson. The Thunderbirds also won a semi-state championship just a few years ago going 36-3 in the process.

Although in recent years, Wagner is still very much dominant at the basketball level, the football team has finally taken shape.

The past two seasons Wagner is currently 26-3. Last year they finished the regular season at 9-1 with the only loss being to Judson early in the year. They made it all the way to the state semifinals before falling to undefeated Shadow Creek. This season they went 9-1 with an early loss to Judson and have made it back to the state semifinals where they will once again take on undefeated Shadow Creek.

“The key to success for us is just working hard staying focused and being able to get through adversity when it hits,” defensive end and linebacker DeMarcus Hendricks said.

“I continue to focus on executing the game plan, and play our game, which is physical, fast, hard-nosed football,” added wide receiver, Joshua Cobbs.

We have reached the state semifinals in the 5A D1 playoffs and there’s no doubt that we have the best four teams within that classification left.

Denton Ryan, Frisco Lone Star, Pearland Shadow Creek, and San Antonio Wagner have a combined record of 55-1.

Each team scores upwards of 49 points a game whilst letting up less than 15. All four are incredibly dominant as each game has the potential to be an all-time classic.

Each team has been more than impressive this season with each having signature wins on their resume. It might be Wagner although who’s riding the highest after destroying Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial in the quarterfinals by a score of 74-14.

“We played our game, didn’t get caught up in the moment and executed our game plan,” Cobbs said. “When we do that I believe we can beat anybody.”

“We just had to play better than the two playoff games before,” Hendricks added. “We worked hard in practice on our mistakes from previous games and it showed in the game vs CC vets.”

The games that Hendricks is referring to are Wagner’s two previous postseason games. They survived a scare in bi-district play against Flour Buff 42-38 despite Flour Buff scoring 17 unanswered in the final quarter. They followed that up in the regional semifinals with a 48-46 win against previously undefeated Harlan. Wagner controlled the ball for the final six minutes of the game including a huge 33-yard completion to Joshua Cobbs that nearly iced the game for the Thunderbirds.

Wagner responded to those two previous close games by blowing Vets Memorial off the field. 

Wagner is primarily a running team as 83% of the teams’ total yards have come on the ground this season. When the Thunderbirds do throw the ball however, they look at Joshua Cobbs.

Cobbs in the CCVM game had the teams only two catches for 43 yards and two touchdowns. On the season he has 27 catches for a ridiculous 661 yards, an average of more than 24 yards a catch, for 17 touchdowns. Cobbs is responsible for 60% of the teams receiving yards and upwards of 70% of the teams receiving touchdowns this season.

“Trusting the process of what we do as a team and buying into that,” Cobbs said on his success. “When you do that everything else just comes. That and taking advantage of the opportunity’s that I do get, just making plays when my number is called.

Wagner plays old school football, running and defense are the teams’ strengths and leading that defense is none other than senior DeMarcus Hendricks.

Half of the Thunderbirds 14 games this season ended with the opposing team scoring zero points. They went on an unprecedented stretch from mid-September to the end of October with six consecutive shutouts.

Hendricks on the season leads his team in virtually every stat. 39 tackles for a loss with 11 sacks and four forced fumbles with three recoveries. He also has six passes defended with three interceptions. Hendricks does it all for the Thunderbirds defense.

“The key to success for me personally is me being a leader,” Hendricks said. “Always being focused and doing my job whenever I’m in the game.”

Wagner has been a force of nature all season. They average nearly 400 yards a game from running the football alone. Whilst winning games by an average of 38 points a game.

Wagner, however, will have its hands full on Saturday at San Antonio’s Alamo Stadium against Shadow Creek. The Sharks enter the game undefeated and are on a quest to make it back to the state championship game where they lost last season. Wagner is on a redemption tour of their own and trying to knock out the same team that knocked them out one year ago.

“You can expect a very hard-fought game from us,” Hendricks said. “We know they’re going to come out and give us there best game. They’re a pretty great team but we know what we have to do to be successful at the end of Friday night.”

“You can expect us to come out fast everyone knows our style of play offensively and defensively which is often considered unorthodox,” Cobbs added. “But, what you can expect is us to play fast and physical play after play.”

No matter who comes away with the 5A D1 state championship, they will have to earn it. Wagner has established itself as a powerhouse in the state and is willing to throw punches with everyone. They will run it down your throat again and again. If you do stop them? Expect them to punch your teeth in on defense.

With a win, and Wagner goes to its first state championship game. A loss and history will have proven to repeat itself.

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