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Mission High School Principal Joe Lopez, a former Mission Eagle football player, never expected to find himself playing football for the Eagles again. However, that is exactly what 35-year-old Lopez did Saturday evening when the Mission Eagles alumni faced the Hidalgo Pirates alumni in a charity football game in Hidalgo.
With half of the proceeds going towards the establishment of a scholarship for Mission High School athletic program, 35 former Eagles football players stepped onto the blue artificial turf at Bill Pate Stadium in full pads and helmets Saturday and played a complete 60-minute game under UIL rules.
At 35 years of age Lopez, who played tight end for the 1993 and 1994 Eagles, was one of the senior members on the team.
“It’s just an honor to be out here with these guys. Even though I’m the oldest one on the team it was just great to come out here and have a great time. It’s great for the community and great for Mission High School and in a way this kicks off our high school football season too,” said Lopez.
Kevin and Robert Perryman are brothers who both played for the Mission Eagles, but never had an opportunity to play together until this game.
Kevin, a 1999 graduate of Mission High School who is currently living in Houston, needed convincing from his older brother to return to the Valley to take part in this game.
“My brother’s four years older than I am so I never got to play with him in high school. He convinced me to come out here and play. I didn’t want to do it because I didn’t want to get injured, but he said, “Come on, we’ll play one last time and we’ll get to play together.” He’s a salesman so he convinced me to do it.”
Robert Perryman (class of 1995) made the trip to the Valley from his home in Michigan specifically to play in this game with his brother.
“It means a lot to get to play with my brother. As he said, we never got to play together when we were younger. We went to college together, but even there we didn’t get to play together because he’s four years younger than me.”
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As for the game itself, Hidalgo put points on the scoreboard first when their quarterback scored on a one-yard keeper on the last play of the first quarter. The two-point conversion attempt failed making the score 6-0, Pirates alumni, as the teams switched sides of the field to begin the second quarter.
With 3:54 to play in the first half, the Pirates were threatening to extend their lead when the Eagles defense forced a fumble and gave the ball back to the Eagles offense on their own 13 yard line. The Eagles then proceeded to move the ball downfield, but failed to score when the Pirates defense stiffened on a fourth down play at the Pirates 20 yard line.
As the first half came to an end, the score remained Hidalgo 6 Mission 0.
With 7:17 left to play in the third quarter, the Eagles scored their first points of the game when running back Eric Borrego (class of 2004) scored on a two-yard touchdown run. The Eagles went for two, but failed to convert leaving the score tied at 6-6.
The Eagles’ touchdown was set up by a nice throw and catch on the previous play by quarterback J.J. Silva (class of 2004) and running back Justin Luna (class of 2006).
The Eagles alumni took the lead for the first time with 3:32 left in the third quarter when Silva pitched the ball to wide receiver Eddie Vasquez (class of 2001) who proceeded to throw a pass to a wide open Josh Garza (class of 2012) in the end zone.
When asked what this trick play was called, the Eagles alumni coach Fidel Garcia (class of 1996) said, “We call it Trips Right Oso Pass. I don’t know what that means but it’s a wide receiver throw.”
After an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt, the Eagles alumni held a 12-6 lead over the Pirates alumni as the final 15 minutes of the game approached.
The Pirates alumni offense threatened to tie the game or take the lead twice in the fourth quarter, but thanks in part to two interceptions by the Eagles alumni defense, they were unable to score again. With no time left on the clock and with the scoreboard showing 6 for the hometown Pirates and 12 for the visiting Eagles, the first ever game for the Mission Eagles alumni was a victorious one.
While Coach Silva was pleased by his team’s comeback win, he knew that the final score was not what this game was all about.
“It was a great experience. Everybody came out here and we had a good turnout for a good cause. We want to do this again,” said Silva.
The Hidalgo Pirates alumni are donating their share of the proceeds from this game to the family of Jessica Saldivar, a 17-year-old Hidalgo High School student who was killed by gunfire last month. Anyone interested in making a donation to help the Saldivar family with their expenses can call 361-288-9610 or can contact BBVA Compass Bank where an account has been set up in Jessica’s name.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.