School Spotlight: Cibolo Steele High School (Cibolo, Texas)

Cibolo Steele High School is located in Cibolo, Texas. They play in the 6A-D2 division in Texas. The Knights are led by head coach David Saenz. Saenz joined the program in 2007 as the head coach for the freshman team. His talents were recognized by the program, and that next year he was promoted to defensive backs coach for varsity. He had been coaching the secondary for 9 years, and called defensive plays for 5 of them before being asked to take over as head coach. Coach Saenz led Steele to an impressive 13-2 record with an undefeated district record of 5-0 this season. They fell one game short of the Texas State Championship, losing a tough game against Summer Creek in the semi- finals 38-14. That doesn’t diminish Steele’s hopes, as they are ready to make a State Championship push next year. Steele was quarterbacked by 3 star quarterback from the class of 2025, Chad Warner, and he was stellar. Warner completed 210 out of 306 passing attempts for 3,451 yards and an astounding 36 touchdowns through the air. That’s not all Warner can do as he also rushed for an additional 199 yards and 4 touchdowns. Warner is a very elusive quarterback. He knows how to move in the pocket to avoid pressure and can throw a beautiful ball while running. He has a cannon for an arm and can fit the ball in the tightest of openings. Warner’s high football IQ, ability to make plays with his feet, and overall arm talent make him a quarterback that you want to keep on your radar. Warner’s favorite target was 4 star wide receiver Jalen Cooper, also from the class of 2025. Jalen is going to be a problem in the NCAA. He stands at 6’1, 150 lbs and can locate the ball anywhere. Jalen holds numerous offers from Power 5 schools, so get ready to hear his name a lot. He has an amazing ability to go up and get the ball no matter who is defending him. He has sticky hands and will almost always come back down with the rock. Jalen runs. 4.5 second forty yard dash, and he still has a year left of high school ball. Jalen’s speed helps him burst past defenders, and make him virtually untouchable in the open field. He is a tough player who won’t go down with just one defender. This season, Jalen had 1,578 yards through the air along with 23 touchdowns. If you don’t know his name yet, you will soon. The Knights also found success in the ground game. Class of 2026 running back Jonathan Hatton rushed for 1222 yards and 21 touchdowns this season. Hatton is already a 4 star running back who shows great promise for the next coming years. Jonathan reminds me a lot of Isaiah Pacheco. They are both angry runners that don’t let contact deter them. Once Jonathan finds a hole, good luck catching up to him. He has blazing speed that he combines with his physicality to make him an elite running back. Jonathan holds multiple offers from top college programs, so he is also a name that you need to get used to. The Knights were also stellar on the defensive side of the ball. They had three players record more than 100 tackles on the season, but one player was the true cornerstone of the defense. Texas- Rio Grande Valley commit Abdon Mata recorded 109 total tackles and 12 sacks this season as an edge rusher. These stats earned Abdon 1st Team All- District honors. Abdon uses his speed and footwork to shoot past lineman on the edge and disrupt the pocket. He is extremely strong and you will need the double team to stop him. Abdon tosses lineman around like ragdolls whenever he is pursuing the ball carrier. Nothing will stop his relentlessness to get in the pocket and standing at 6’2, 235 lbs, I think Abdon is extremely underrated. Turnovers are what every defensive coordinator dream of, and Steele had a player that made those dreams come true. Class of 2024 defensive back Dontae Carter had an impressive 7 interceptions this season which helped him secure a scholarship to play football at Vanderbilt University where he has already enrolled early. Dontae is very skilled at reading quarterbacks eyes, as well as positioning himself to go up and get the ball. His hands gravitate towards the ball in a way you have to see to believe. Dontae is going to have a stellar career at Vanderbilt and he is also someone you need to keep your eyes on. Overall, Steele is poised for greatness next season, and that is all that is on their minds. Do not be surprised if they are holding the trophy in AT&T stadium next year. Below is a Q&A that I conducted with Coach Saenz.

Head Coach David Saenz addressing the team

What are core values that you believe build successful programs?

You have to have structure in your program. Within that structure you have the discipline aspect while also building young men into leaders. Those are some of the main pillars that we at Steele focus on. We make sure we have structure, our coaches are going to know from August all the way until we get out of school at May the schedule that we follow. We follow that calendar religiously. Whether I am there or not, our coaches and players know the expectations day in and day out. That combined with our leadership and character development are our main pillars.
Cibolo Steele quarterback Chad Warner looking downfield to pass

You guys had an amazing run in the playoffs but it sadly got cut short during that tough Semi Finals game against Summer Creek. How is the team learning from that loss to improve for next year, and take that final step to the State Championship game? 

We talked about it as a staff and as a team early on this offseason. It had been 6 or 7 years since we were in a State Semi Final game so I think there was some learning on the kids part for the talent level in these playoff games. You have to excel at a high level for 48 minutes. I think the things we learned were that we need to be bigger, stronger, and faster than last year. We need to be prepared in all phases of the game. It’s not just the physical part but also the mental part of playing in these games.
Cibolo Steele wide receiver Jalen Cooper

What are some ways you have seen this program grow since you first came on the staff in 2007?

It’s been pretty amazing to see the growth that we’ve had. When I first got here Coach Jinks was the head coach and then Coach Lehnhoff took over in 2017 and that first varsity season we went 3-7. As a staff we came together and realized we had to get stronger. First and foremost we have to get stronger in the weight room, and that’s what we continue to do to this day. The growth that we have had out here is amazing. We started out as 4A and then we moved up to 5A so it’s neat to see the growth that we have had in our community. Anytime you have any success in a program, the kids thrive in it.
Cibolo Steele running back Jonathan Hatton

Being a former safety yourself, are there any attributes that you look for when evaluating your depth chart for the secondary?

We’ve been blessed to have some very talented secondary players at Steele. The metrics part of it is a huge part of the recruiting process. If you have a guy who is 6’2 and 180 lbs, it seems like he has his foot in the door already to go play in college so I think metrics matter a lot. Our staple here has always been we’re putting our dudes on defense and many times they play both ways as secondary and receiver. We just look for guys that want to compete and we’ve been blessed to have some guys that have the metrics and the will to compete and perform at a high level.
Cibolo Steele defensive back Dontae Carter

What does it mean to you to be able to send these kids to college when they may not have had the opportunity without football?

That’s a huge part of it. Our coaching staff wishes they could send every one of our players to a college to play. A lot of kids get that opportunity and it means a lot to us as a staff. It shows that the things we are doing is developing these kids into players that colleges want. The kids see it too and see the amount of guys we have sent out to play in college. They know that dream is achievable. Our motto around here is trust the process which means continue to work hard, be a pillar in the community and make sure your grades are right so when they come in, there’s nothing they can hold against you.
Cibolo Steele edge rusher Abdon Mata

In your opinion, why is Texas High School Football considered above the rest of the nation?

In Texas we have a huge state and a tremendous amount of talent, but what really separates us is the fact that we have athletic periods. With that athletic period we get to develop our kids, get them in the weight room, work on off-season stuff, practice football during the season and much more to help the program during that period. All of those things can give you the advantage when you talk about state to state. Other states don’t always have their coaches on campus or an athletic period so they have to go in before or after school. I think having that athletic period is a huge part of what separates Texas from the other states.