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20130927 Football MissionThe last time the 1-1 Mission Eagles played at Tom Landry Stadium was 42 days ago. And that wasn’t even a game, it was a scrimmage against Edinburg High. Since then Coach Mario Peña’s Eagles have been on the road more often than Willie Nelson – first at Edinburg North, then at La Joya Palmview and most recently at Corpus Christi Tuloso Midway. Mission had yet another road game scheduled, at Brownsville Hanna September 7, but that game was cancelled due to bad weather.

Fortunately, of the seven games they have remaining on their schedule, all being District 32-4A match-ups, five will be played at Tom Landry Stadium. That includes their Oct. 25 game against Veterans Memorial in which the Patriots will occupy the home side of the field but will, of course, still be played at the friendly confines of Tom Landry Stadium.

First on Mission’s agenda, however, is their game against the Valley View Tigers tonight – a rematch of last year’s district opener in which the Eagles blanked the Tigers 41-0.

“Last year was their best year; they had six wins,” said Peña. “We played them well though. We not only shut them out but we held them to 40 yards of total offense. That was after they had put up over 300 yards on each of their previous opponents. But they’ve graduated some really good running backs in Espino, Reyes and Guajarado.”

“I don’t know his name but our scouts are reporting that this year their go-to guy is #30,” added Peña. “We’ve seen them use three or four different quarterbacks but they will move #30 around so we’ll need to keep an eye on him.”

As for what offensive scheme Valley View will be using tonight, that will come as no surprise to Peña who faced the same scheme at Tuloso Midway two weeks ago.

“On offense they run what we call a Nasty-T or a Slot-T formation,” explained Peña. “There’s a lot of misdirection so we have to be very disciplined on defense. They can give the ball to three different guys. They can give it to the fullback, they can give it to the halfback or to the slotback. But we’ve gone up against that before.”

Last year, Mission was so successful against Valley View’s Slot-T attack that Eagles’ defenders penetrated the line of scrimmage and created negative plays almost at-will.

“That’s the one thing about playing that kind of offense,” explained Peña. “The one thing that I emphasize to our players is creating a new line of scrimmage and creating havoc for them by penetrating enough to take away their ability to pull their guards. That really hinders them because in order for them to be successful they have to be able to pull their guards.”

As for what he expects Valley View to do on the defensive side of the ball, Peña is not really all that concerned.

“Defensively they’ve given up a lot of points this season,” shared Peña. “I know that they have three or four kids going both ways so they must not have much depth on their roster. But what it comes down to is that we’re not expending our energy on what’s going on over there. Instead we’re expending it on what is going on here.”

“We need to play with a lot more enthusiasm,” added Peña. “That’s job number one. We’re playing good defense but we need to be more enthusiastic on how we play both on offense and on defense because that rubs off on the other players. Physically we’re ok but it’s the mental aspect of the game where we need to step it up and complement each other offensively, defensively and on special teams.”

With last week being a bye week for the Eagles, Peña took the opportunity to make sure that his players were not only prepared physically but prepared academically as well.

“We spent our bye week getting healed up but we also spent a lot of time on academics,” shared Peña. “I wanted to make sure that if any of my players needed to make up work or if they needed to go in for tutoring, that they’d get it taken care of last week. So I told the coaches that if we were going to sacrifice a week that was the week to do it and now we can get focused on Valley View.”

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