There won’t be any Friday night lights on when the Mission Eagles take on the Brownsville Hanna Golden Eagles at Sams Stadium in Brownsville tomorrow. There won’t be any Saturday night lights on either as the scheduled kickoff for this Week 1 non-district matchup between 32-5A Hanna Eagles and 32-4A Mission Eagles is 1 p.m.
While Mission head coach Mario Peña is not pleased at all that his team is going to be playing football during the heat of the day, he had no say in the matter.
“Hanna’s coach wanted to play an evening game, but he was basically given a directive by their athletic director to play at 1 p.m.,” explained Peña. “We have no say over it since they are the home team so that’s how that came about. Unfortunately, I don’t foresee there being a lot of people in the stands for a one o’clock game.”
To make matters worse, the artificial turf at Sams Stadium will heat things up even more for the players than if it was a natural grass field.
“With artificial turf on the field it’s going to make it even harder because when you’re playing on turf the heat index changes a lot,” said Peña. “If the air temperature is 100 degrees the heat index on the turf could be 125-130 degrees.”
Fortunately for Peña and his Eagles, their season opening game against the La Joya Palmview Lobos last week was played under the lights. Even so Mission starting quarterback Steven Cavasos experienced some problems with the heat and humidity that led to his being taken off the field on two different occasions.
“I was cramping up tonight. I need to stretch out more,” said Cavasos.
With only 180 yards of total offense against Palmview last Thursday night, the Eagles didn’t exactly put on an offensive exhibition. Even so, Mission did put enough points on the scoreboard to defeat the Lobos 23-13, making them 1-0 going into tomorrow’s game against Hanna.
“I think we played well tonight but we’re striving to get better,” shared Cavasos last week. “Tomorrow we’re going to hit the weights and watch film. We’re going to get better.”
As for what Coach Peña is expecting from Hanna tomorrow, he’s certainly not expecting the team that fell behind 42-0 to Sharyland in the first half last week.
“Hanna is one of the better Brownsville teams without a doubt,” said Peña. “They’ve got a lot of size. We went to see them against Sharyland and the score of that game is not indicative of the kind of team they are. They settled down in the second half and they shut down the Rattlers. And it wasn’t because they took their starters out because they didn’t.”
Even before Peña saw the Golden Eagles play the Rattlers last week, he had a pretty good idea of what to expect. That’s because he has a history with Hanna’s head coach.
“Without a doubt they are bigger than we are,” shared Peña. “I have gone up against Coach Medrano, their head coach, for about 12 years now. I played against him every year when I was in San Benito and now here at Mission so we know each other very well. I’m expecting a very even matchup and a hard-fought battle.”
Peña is preparing his team for a physical game tomorrow, a game in which his defense will be tested in one way and then another.
“Offensively they’re going to test us and try to muscle us from the I formation by coming at us and trying to establish the running game,” explained Peña. “If that doesn’t work he’ll dump it and get into the spread offense or gun formation and try opening it up on us.”
As for which Hanna players Mission’s defense is going to stop to be successful tomorrow, Peña believes it will be their two returning running backs and one of their three quarterbacks.
“They’ve got seven starters back on defense and five back on offense,” explained Peña. “I don’t have their roster with me but numbers 24 (Mike Garza) and 21 (Kailin Zavala) in their backfield are starters from a year ago. They rotated three quarterbacks against Sharyland, number one (Andy Lopez), number 12 (Richard Martinez) and number 15 (Lucas Olivares). Number 15 without a doubt is the fastest guy on the field so if he’s on the field we have to look at him as a running threat.”
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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.