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20130806 Football Mission Eagles Preview lg-04The 2012 season was one of highs and lows for the Mission Eagles football team. The highs included winning their first nine games and clinching a share of the District 32-4A championship. The lows included falling one game short of a perfect 10-0 record and a heartbreaking 36-30 bi-district round loss to Corpus Christi Ray.

The Eagles’ success last year came as a result of a two-pronged attack that included the Valley’s top ranked defense and the district’s second ranked quarterback. If Mission is going to successfully defend their district title this year, they will have to do so with a revamped defense and with a new signal caller on offense.

“We would’ve had seven starters returning on offense and five on defense, but I’m moving one of our defensive ends to quarterback and one of our offensive starters decided not to return. Therefore, we will have four starters returning on defense and seven on offense,” explained Mission head football coach Mario Peña.

“Right now we’re looking at Steven Cavazos at quarterback,” added Peña. “He made first team All-District on defense for us last year. We expect him to be more mobile than Juan Rios was last year.”

As for who Cavazos will have to throw and hand the ball off to this year, Robert Veliz and Michael Ruiz are both returning receivers while Brandon Guevara and Adonis Juarez look to be Mission’s two main weapons on the ground.

Throughout his 34-year coaching career, Peña has been known as a defensive specialist. However he knows that while defense keeps you in games, you can’t win if you don’t put points on the board.

“We don’t want to be known as a defensive team,” said Peña. “We want to be known as a balanced team that can put points on the board offensively as well as being able to stop the opposition defensively.”

Whether it’s the offense, the defense, special teams or a combination of all three that puts a game in the win column for the Eagles, Peña doesn’t care. It’s winning games that matters.

“We don’t line up to be competitive. We line up to win football games. That’s an attitude that you must have. It takes commitment, dedication and attendance to be successful and that is why I tell my players that when it comes to playing football you have to jump in or jump out,” said Peña.

“To have a good program you have to be able to prove yourself year-in and year-out,” added Peña. “That’s what we’re striving to do here in Mission; to have people recognize that we have the kind of team that you’re going to have to look out for every year.”

Over the years, Peña has developed a creed for his defensive units. A creed that conveys his attitude about what it takes to play defense the way he played it as a Mission Eagle defensive standout in the ‘70s.

“It started with five D’s, but I have since added a sixth,” explained Peña. “My creed is to demolish, destroy, dominate and demoralize offensive units, to dictate the tempo and ultimately to play with discipline.”

“When it comes to playing defense, there’s more than physicality,” added Peña. “We have a framework and we have a philosophy here at Mission. When I started using the name of Demolition Crew for my defense, I gave them an identity. But when you give yourself an identity like that, you have to back it up.”

Having not played spring ball, the Eagles have an extra week to prepare for the 2013 season. As a result, Mission will have two scrimmages and three non-district games before opening their district schedule against Valley View at home September 27. The Eagles’ non-district schedule includes games at La Joya Palmview (Aug. 29), at Brownsville Hanna (Sept. 7) and at Corpus Christi Tuloso Midway (Sept. 13).

After the Valley View district opener, Mission travels to Edcouch Elsa Oct. 4 before playing four games in a row at Tom Landry Stadium; Roma, Oct. 11; Rio Grande City, Oct. 18; at Mission Veterans, Oct. 25 and PSJA Southwest, Oct. 31. The Eagles will then close district play when they travel to Mercedes to play the Tigers Nov. 8.

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