The Mission Eagles will be taking the field at Tom Landry Stadium tonight for a game that they may already have won prior to the opening kick-off. How is this possible? Their opponent is Edcouch-Elsa, who must forfeit all their football games this season, due to of alleged violations of the UIL's new eight hours-a-week practice rule.
Facing the UIL’s so called “death penalty,” Edcouch-Elsa has since filed an appeal, but the decision on the appeal may not be known prior to the start of tonight’s game. As a result, the Eagles could take the field tonight not knowing if the final score will matter.
With his 4-0 Eagles looking to continue their winning ways, regardless of what the UIL does, head coach Mario Peña will have his team ready to play tonight. The question, however, is whether to risk injury to any of his key players in a game that may be an automatic win.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Peña. “Ultimately it’s a bad situation for them. We have to play them whether it counts or not. If it doesn’t count you don’t want to get any of your players hurt if it doesn’t have any bearing on the outcome of the district race. That’s the biggest concern that I have.”
Peña does not know when the UIL may rule on the appeal.
“That’s up to our district chairman,” said Peña. “We’re going to get ready for them because if UIL overturns anything then those games are going to count. We’re getting ready for them and that’s the bottom line.”
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On the field Edcouch-Elsa has compiled a 3-1 overall record this year. As a result of their 34-16 victory over Roma last week the Yellow Jackets, like the Eagles, come into tonight’s game with a 1-0 district record. Last year Edcouch compiled a 7-1 district record and advanced into the state playoffs where they lost to C.C. Calhoun in the area round for the second year in a row.
Regardless of any pending UIL ruling, Peña knows that Edcouch-Elsa’s head coach Joe Solis will have his team ready to play when they take the field.
“We’re expecting a very tough ball game,” said Peña. “I think that they are by far the best team that we’ve played all year. They’ve got great, great skill people. We’re going to have to pick it up a notch and bring our A game to the field on Friday night. I foresee it being a close game and a very physical game at the same time.”
After reviewing the films, Peña has been most impressed with Edcouch Elsa’s quarterback.
“They’re young ball club and they lost their quarterback Eric Morales early in the year, but the guy that has been playing for them is #20 Imoe Gonzalez. He’s a runner and a pretty good passer,” explained Peña.
The Jackets offense includes several running backs and wide receivers that his defense will have to key on tonight, Peña added.
“They run multiple formations on offense, but if you see them in the spread formation in the backfield, you’re looking at #1 Miguel Mariscal or #21 Israel Loredo,” said Peña. “Those are two very good running backs. When they go into the slot position, #29 Diego Garcia and #6 Mark Garcia will be the ones to watch. Probably their best athlete and the one that they’ll want to get the ball to is #9 Isaias Martinez. We’ll also be keeping an eye on #5 Issac Martinez.”
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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.