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20131004-Sharyland-v-J-L-Football dy-103With three district losses each already this season, the La Joya Coyotes and the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies are both on the verge of reaching the point of no return for a chance in the playoffs. If either is going to have a realistic shot of securing a playoff spot this season, tonight’s head-to-head game at La Joya ISD Stadium between two of the three members of the pack is do-or-die.

Unlike the Coyotes, the Huskies do have one District 30-5A victory under their belts – a 13-7 win over the Palmview Lobos in Week 2. Since then, however, Juarez-Lincoln has lost three games in a row; 33-0 to Edinburg North, 14-3 to Edinburg Vela and 42-10 to Sharyland. While their three-game losing streak has dropped the Huskies into a fifth place tie with the Edinburg Bobcats in District 30-5A, a win tonight would put Coach Tomas Garcia’s squad back on track for a playoff run.

“I’ve been telling our kids all week long that this is the first round of the playoffs for us,” said Garcia. “We can’t afford to lose another one so this is do-or-die for us. We lost to Edinburg Vela who we beat last year, so we’ve dug ourselves into a hole. But La Joya is very much improved and they moved the ball really well against Economedes and stayed in the ballgame so we’re expecting a very good game.”

Last week, Juarez-Lincoln was holding their own against an undefeated Sharyland team until two costly turnovers late in the second quarter gave the Rattlers all the help they needed to put the game away.

“We did a good job of running the ball offensively against Sharyland,” explained Garcia. “And I thought that Edward [Garcia] did a good job of managing the clock throughout the game. We knew that we had to manage the clock correctly if we were going to keep it close. But we went from being behind 7-3 to 21-3 at the half as a result of a bad snap on a punt and a fumble inside our own 20 yard line, so turnovers really hurt us.”

Last year was not only Garcia’s first season as the Huskies head coach, it was also Juarez-Lincoln’s first year competing at the 5-A level. Even so Garcia’s squad managed to win the La Joya city championship by defeating both Palmview and La Joya High. With a win tonight, the Huskies will claim the city title for the second consecutive year, but as far as Garcia is concerned, tonight’s intra-city matchup is all about the playoffs.

“Like I told the kids, ‘This is one of those games that you can get caught up in trying to win the city championship,’” shared Garcia. “But that’s not our goal. Our goal is to get into the playoffs and the Coyotes just happen to be the next opponent on our schedule. Our kids understand that and they understand that if we lose it’s pretty much over for us.”

La Joya’s only win of the season thus far was a non-district 64-0 trouncing of the Brownsville Porter Cowboys. Since then the Coyotes have managed to score only one touchdown over three games. Their 49-0 loss to Edinburg Vela in addition to their 48-3 loss to Sharyland and their 21-10 loss to Edinburg Economedes means that La Joya has been outscored 118-13 at the hands of their first three District 30-5A opponents this season.

Against Economedes last week, however, the Coyotes’ defense surrendered only seven points making it their best defensive effort since their Week 1 shutout win over Porter. With the Huskies’ offense averaging less than seven points a game against District 30-5A opponents this year and the Coyotes averaging less than five, whichever team puts the first points on the scoreboard tonight could be the team to see their playoff hopes live on.

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