The Veterans Memorial Patriots’ and the Palmview Lobos’ football seasons both came to an end last week in the area round of the state playoffs but not before putting together successful, and in the Lobos’ case, historic seasons.
For Veterans Memorial this season marked the second time in school history that a Patriots team has won a bi-district championship. For Palmview their 2014 season will be remembered as the first time in school history that a Lobos football team had a winning season, qualified for the playoffs, won a playoff game or earned a bi-district championship.
After posting a 3-1 non-district schedule then dropping their district opener to the Sharyland Rattlers, Veterans Memorial put a string of four wins in a row together to clinch a playoff berth for the third year in a row. A 39-12 loss to Edinburg Vela to close out their district schedule left the then 7-3 Patriots as District 31-5A’s third seed in the playoffs.
Having been eliminated in the first round of post season play the previous two seasons, the Patriots set out to achieve their season-long goal of advancing into the third round of the playoffs for the first time in school history. Their 17-14 bi-district round win against the Donna Redskins meant that the Patriots were just one win away from achieving their goal, but with the state’s sixth-ranked Flour Bluff Hornets next on their schedule it just wasn’t meant to be as Veterans Memorial’s season came to an end with a 55-28 loss to the Hornets.
While Patriots head coach David Gilpin would’ve loved to have upset Flour Bluff and still be alive in the playoffs, he is by no means disappointed in the team that earned Veterans Memorial High School its second football championship in five years.
“Our four losses this season came to teams that made it into the second round of the playoffs and three of them are still alive in the third round,” explained Gilpin. “Sure we would’ve loved to have beaten one, two, three or even all four of those teams but the bottom line is that those were very good teams that we lost to and where they are in the state playoffs is evidence of that.”
Gilpin accepts the Patriots’ season-ending loss to Flour Bluff.
“The bottom line is that the better team won the football game,” said Gilpin. “We had our game plan in place and we did our best to motivate the kids in hopes of pulling off a shocker but Flour Bluff was simply better. There’s an old saying that goes, ‘If you lose a close game you may have been out-coached but if it’s a blowout you were probably out-horsed,’ and we were simply out-horsed on Friday night.’”
While seniors like quarterback Santos Villarreal and running back John Garcia played a big part in the Patriots’ success this season Gilpin credits all of his seniors for the roles they played in the team’s achievements.
“Every single senior has had a major impact on our program, on what we’ve done and in my life,” shared Gilpin. “To single out anybody really wouldn’t do justice to them all but obviously your top kids are going to be missed, those that have produced on the field for the past two, three or four years. The good thing is that our seniors this year are going to be leaving with a gold ball in the trophy case. They’re leaving as champions.”
Last year, the Palmview Lobos managed only one win against nine losses. To say that they had a turnaround season in 2014 would be an understatement.
With a 7-1-1 record over their first nine games the Lobos were assured of their first ever playoff appearance with two games to go. While losses to McAllen Memorial and McAllen High to close out the district schedule was not the way head coach Mage Requenez would’ve preferred to enter the playoffs, a 21-17 win over Laredo LBJ in the bi-district round had Palmview in the area round of the playoffs. That however would be as far as the Lobos would go as their historic season came to an end as a result of their 56-6 area round loss to the Weslaco East Wildcats.
When asked what led to such a dramatic turnaround in just one year Requenez said, “It was a combination of several things. First of all, we were very committed during the offseason. Secondly, the kids set their goals and we told them that as long as they were committed to doing what it took to achieve those goals we would put them in a position to achieve them.”
“It came down to the kids believing in themselves,” added Requenez. “We then made sure that we put every kid in a position to shine and to perform to the best of their abilities.”