The two teams that ended the long playoff dry spell for La Joya varsity football teams last year will be going head-to-head tonight at La Joya ISD Stadium. The 1-0 Palmview Lobos and the 1-1 La Joya Coyotes will both be looking to win their second District 30-6A games in a row tonight in hopes of building some momentum as they head into the homestretch of the 2015 season.
With both teams having their sights set on claiming one of the district’s four playoff berths once again this year, tonight’s winner will be one step closer to achieving that goal. As for the loser, it’s still early enough in the season for that team to make a successful run at the playoffs but even if they do make it they will most likely have to settle for a third or fourth seed as opposed to a first or a second.
The Coyotes, who opened their district schedule with a 60-14 loss to the still undefeated McAllen Memorial Mustangs two weeks ago, displayed their resiliency last week by bouncing back with a 22-18 win over the McAllen High Bulldogs.
Last year the Coyotes opened district play with three consecutive losses, including a 23-10 loss to the Lobos, before winning their final three district games to clinch the fourth seed in the playoffs. Having already won one more game at this point in the season than they won last year, turning the tables on the Lobos by defeating them tonight will give the Coyotes a huge boost as they will have emerged from the toughest part of their schedule with a winning record.
La Joya head football Coach George Espinoza shared what last year’s success, and the possibility of making yet another trip to the playoffs this year, means to his team when he said, “This is my fourth season and this group of players is a special group that I went to talk to as eighth graders when I came in at mid-season. So they’ve been through my program these four years and now that they’ve experienced the success we had last year it means a lot to them to be part of this program.”
“Our kids know that some of the ups and downs we’ve had so far this season have been due to some key injuries and a lot of mental mistakes,” added Espinoza. “We are playing some younger kids but like I’ve told them, there will come a time when they will have to grow up and step up to the plate. Also, if we didn’t have faith and confidence in them we wouldn’t put them in there.”
With their bye week behind them, the Lobos opened their district schedule last week with a 35-21 win over the Mission Eagles. Palmview’s offensive strategy is one of “ground and pound” with their huge offensive line leading the way.
“Our main purpose on offense is to control the game and make sure that we wear the other team down,” said Lobos’ head coach Margarito “Mage” Requenez. “We have a very strong offensive line again this year with all but one of our 2014 starters having returned. Having another senior group with the much of the same leadership we had last year is what I believe is going to make the difference as we look to build on the success we had last year.”