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LA JOYA — In the 1986 comedy “The Best of Times,” former high school football players re-play a 13-year-old game in an attempt to relive their glory days. For one player in particular the game was all about an opportunity to make good on a play that would’ve won the game for his alma mater had he only not dropped the ball.
At the La Joya Independent School District Stadium on Nov. 3, former Mission Eagles and Veterans Memorial Patriots took the field against former La Joya Coyotes, Juarez-Lincoln Huskies and Palmview Lobos to play a game much like the one in the movie. The participants in this game, however, did not suit up and risk injury to themselves for selfish or self-glorifying reasons. Instead, the alumni football teams were motivated to play to raise money for two local Boys & Girls Clubs.
Palmview Boys & Girls Club Juan Arevalo and 1993 La Joya High School (LJHS) graduate was one of the players on the La Joya Alumni team’s roster. He was also the alumni game’s organizer. As a director of one of the two clubs that benefited financially from the game, he knows how necessary the money could be.
“The proceeds will be going to the Palmview and the Mission Boys & Girls Clubs,” he said. “We have Pee-wee leagues, football leagues and volleyball leagues, so we wanted to provide funding for both clubs.”
As a member of the 1993 Coyotes varsity football team, Arevalo still remembers the last time he took the field against a team bearing the Mission name.
“I was a wide receiver and punt returner for the Coyotes. We played against Mission my senior year,” he recalled. “We actually lost that game 14-13.”
Saturday’s game was the first for the La Joya Alumni team and the second for the Mission team. Mission had previously played against and defeated alumni from Hidalgo High School in early August. Unfortunately for Mission fans, their team’s game experience was not an advantage to help them in their next game. La Joya Alumni dominated the game both offensively and defensively to emerge with a 36-3 victory.
The La Joya defense scored the first points of the game when a high snap from center sailed over the Mission punter’s head and rolled out of the end zone for a safety. Mission took a short-lived lead early in the second quarter however when Luis Martinez kicked a field goal to make the score 3-2 Mission. That field goal was the only scoring Mission had on the scoreboard.
Jose Bocanegra played football for LJHS as a sophomore before moving on to Juarez-Lincoln High School (JLHS) where he graduated in 2010. Bocanegra scored three rushing touchdowns and threw for two more Saturday to play a part in each of the five La Joya offensive scores.
As one of the few players on the La Joya squad that had an opportunity to play for the Coyotes and the Huskies during his high school days, Bocanegra appreciated the opportunity to suit up and play with some of his former teammates
CLICK HERE for more photos from the game.
“It feels great,” said Bocanegra. “It’s like another Friday night lights game for me. Getting a chance to play with my Coyotes teammates from my sophomore year when we went three rounds deep into the playoffs feels great.”
Defensively, the star of the game for La Joya was Humberto Cerda. The 2008 LJHS graduate had two interceptions to play a big part in keeping the Mission offense out of the end zone the entire game.
“I played free safety on defense and was a special teams returner for the Coyotes,” said Cerda. “We never got to play the Eagles in high school because we were in different districts. It was an honor to play against them tonight. It’s a good rivalry.”
Memories of the intense and long-lived rivalry between Mission and La Joya football teams surfaced in the third quarter when an on-field skirmish forced the refs to step in and break things up. The mood lightened up considerably however when the song, “Why Can’t We Be Friends?” began to blare over the public address system. The fans and the players all appreciated the humor and the game continued without any further disruptions.
The Palmview Boys and Girls Club serves 5,000 local kids while the Mission Club serves 4,000. For more information or to make a donation to the Palmview Club call Juan Arevalo at 956-391-7924. For the Mission Club contact J.C. Avila at 956-585-3606.
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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.