Knights’ historic season comes to an end in Houston

Team finishes with most wins, best playoff run ever


Photo by Madison Olsen.

[masterslider id=”41″]


The 14-0 Knights seemed unstoppable after winning the 5A Division 2 Region IV title game in the Alamodome with a 20-7 victory over the Calallen Wildcats, a team that had made it all the way to the state championship in 2016.

The Knights were stopped, however, by a College Station team that had reached the semifinal game the year before, only to come up a point short. The College Station Cougars beat the Knights Dec. 16 in Houston’s NRG Stadium, 49-21.

The loss in Houston was eerily similar to the Knights’ victory in San Antonio, but the roles were reversed.

In San Antonio, the Knights scored on their second play from scrimmage as Alexander Julian gashed the Wildcat defense on runs of 22 and 31 yards to grab an early 7-0 lead.

In Houston, it was the Cougars who scored on only their third play from scrimmage as quarterback Marquez Perez (yes, his name really is that close to that of Knight quarterback Max Perez) found the end zone from 38 yards out to complete a 56-yard drive only 43 seconds into the game.

Perez was a warrior in his last high school game, rushing for three touchdowns to bring his season total to 28. Photo by Gregory James.

The Knights tried to answer on their opening drive, but a Ryan Stapp interception on the College Station 3-yard line extinguished a promising threat. After the wrong M. Perez punctuated a 97-yard scoring drive with a 25-yard rushing score, the Knights offense again tried to answer only the turn the ball over on downs.

Running back Da’modrick Anderson then got into the scoring act with a rushing touchdown.

In San Antonio, the Knights scored the game’s first 20 points to build a 20-0 second-quarter lead they would never relinquish.

But in Houston, it was the Cougars who scored the game’s first 21 points to build a 21-0 second-quarter lead they would never relinquish.

The Knights found the end zone in the first half after some productive running from Julian and a 4-yard touchdown run from the right M. Perez to cut the lead to 21-7.

But unfortunately for the Knights, a long pass by the other M. Perez to Spencer Maxwell produced a 48-yard touchdown and made the score 28-7 at the half.

Julian returned the opening kickoff of the second half to the Cougar 39-yard line setting up a 1-yard Max Perez touchdown plunge that cut the lead to two touchdowns.

The promise of a two-score game evaporated, however, as the Cougars answered on their opening second-half drive. A leaping catch and run by Jaelin Campbell resulted in a 56-yard score that ignited another 21-0 Cougar run that put the game out of reach.

The Knight defense that had gotten the team this far in the playoffs simply couldn’t find a stop. The Cougars scored on seven of their first eight possessions of the game.

Max Perez added a third rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to make the final score, 49-21.

With three rushing touchdowns against a defense hellbent on stopping the Knight running attack, Perez was a warrior in his final high school game. For the season, Perez rushed for more than 1,300 yards and threw for more than 1,000 with 28 touchdowns on the ground and 15 through the air.

Alexander Julian rushed for 100 yards in his final high school game, and set up a second-half touchdown with a long return to open the third quarter. Photo by Gregory James.

But Julian was also stalwart in defeat. Even with an invisible bulls eye on his jersey, the senior running back still reached 100 yards for the game. For the season, Julian rushed for an amazing 2,468 yards, in part thanks to an offensive line bolstered by a seasoned corps of senior leaders.

It is a testament to the team’s offensive strength that the press reports out of College Station boasted about holding Mac to 204 rushing yards as a team.

The Cougars went on to the win the 5A Division 2 state title the following week in Dallas with a 20-19 victory over defending state champ Aledo.

For the Knights, the loss and the end of the season were disappointing but cannot change the fact that this Knights team enjoyed the best season in the 65-year history of the school.

Despite playing against teams with playoff pedigrees and rosters much larger than theirs, the Knights advanced to the final four, the farthest a Mac team has ever advanced in the state playoffs.

The team completed only the second undefeated regular season in school history, and they won more games (14) than any Knights team before them.

Along the way, the team avenged a 51-year old loss that ended the season of the previous best McCallum football team ever in 1966.

Through it all, the team has been a family, and the family has grown progressively larger through four playoff victories. The team’s support came to include not only an appreciative core of students, teachers and parents but also an entire district, its superintendent, the city’s mayor and the state representative who serves the McCallum district at the state capitol.

The Knights last huddle was a sorrowful one but also a triumphant huddle. Quarterback Perez along with tackle Judah Copeland, two of the the team’s senior leaders throughout the regular season and into the playoffs, led the team in the huddle break. All the emotions of the season were capped off with these six words, “MAC on three, FAMILY on six.”

To honor the football team’s historic season, we present a photo gallery of 65 images, one for each football season the school has played, including the recently finished 2017 season, the best in school history. Photos by Ian Clennan, Gregory James and Madison Olsen.