It’s Week 8 of Valley high school football and the seven Mission, La Joya and Sharyland teams are preparing to enter the home stretch. With all seven teams still having playoff aspirations, the next four weeks will separate the pretenders from the contenders.
Through the first three weeks of District 31-5A and 30-6A play, the 2-1 Pioneer Diamondbacks and the 2-1 La Joya Coyotes are the only two Big 7 teams with winning records. However that does not mean that they are the only two contenders. At 1-1, the Palmview Lobos, Sharyland Rattlers and Veterans Memorial Patriots are all in the thick of their respective district races and even though they’re currently at 0-2, the Mission Eagles and the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies are by no means out of playoff contention.
So which teams are the pretenders and which are the contenders? Only time will tell, but this week’s games will go a long way towards determining which teams will be extending their seasons and which will be putting their pads, helmets and uniforms into storage.
Mission Eagles at La Joya Coyotes
With their bye week now behind them, the Mission Eagles have had two weeks to prepare for tonight’s game against the surging La Joya Coyotes. Whether an extra week of healing and preparation will help the Eagles avoid a repeat of last year’s 26-7 Week 8 loss to the Coyotes remains to be seen. But with the undefeated and top-ranked McAllen Memorial Mustangs still ahead on their schedule, Mission pretty much needs to start putting games into their win column starting tonight if they are going to have any chance of avoiding missing out on the playoffs for the third year in a row.
Going back to last season, the La Joya Coyotes have now won five of their last six District 30-6A games. This after having lost 18 straight District 30-5A and 30-6A games over the past three seasons. Why the dramatic turnaround? Coyotes’ head football coach George Espinoza attributes it to the fact that in this his fourth season at La Joya, his seniors have had four years of going through his program and now that they’ve experienced the success they had last year they believe in his program, but more importantly they believe in themselves.
Sharyland High Rattlers at Roma Gladiators
Like the Eagles the Sharyland Rattlers are coming off their bye week so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for tonight’s game against the Roma Gladiators. After opening their District 31-5A schedule with a heartbreaking 48-47 loss to the Edinburg Vela Sabercats and following that up with a dramatic 29-27 win over the Veterans Memorial Patriots, the Rattlers are overdue for an easy win. Will the Gladiators oblige? Their two most recent losses to Edinburg Vela and Veterans Memorial by a combined score of 62-3 is a pretty good indicator that they will. Therefore look for the Rattlers to improve their record to 2-1 (4-3 overall) tonight as they look forward to the second chapter of their cross-town rivalry with the Pioneer Diamondbacks next week.
Palmview Lobos at Nikki Rowe Warriors
It’s been a roller coaster-like season for the Palmview Lobos. First they opened their non-district schedule on top with wins over Brownsville Lopez and PSJA Southwest by a combined score of 103-33. Then, just when it looked like they were getting ready to coast through their non-district schedule, the Lobos plummeted to the bottom with back-to-back losses to two 5A teams, the Rio Grande City Rattlers and the Roma Gladiators.
Week 5 saw the Lobos climb their way back to the top when they opened their District 30-6A schedule with a 35-21 win over Mission. However the view from the top did not last long as the Lobos soon found themselves back at the bottom the very next week with a 28-20 loss to the La Joya Coyotes.
Tonight the Lobos will be looking to climb back to the top of their District 30-6A ride when they travel to McAllen’s Veterans Memorial Stadium to take on the 1-2 Nikki Rowe Warriors.
With the state playoffs having a sign that reads, “You must be at least 3-3 to get on this ride,” Palmview needs to win at least two of their remaining four games to have any chance of turning their 2014/2015 season into a ride to remember. And with the Warriors being one of the teams the Lobos should be able to pick-off like ducks in a shooting gallery, a win tonight is pretty much a must for the Lobos.