“I’ve been telling my boys all week that we are a good football team and if we clean up our mistakes we can play with anybody.”
Those were the words of Mission Eagles’ head football coach Mario Pena just minutes after his team’s upset victory over the La Joya Coyotes Friday night. And much to his delight, his Eagles proved him right as they turned a 14-all halftime tie into a runaway 35-14 Eagles’ victory – their first District 30-6A win this season.
Despite their 0-2 district record going into their Week 8 game, the Mission Eagles’ defense stood alone atop the district rankings. As it turns out, it was that same defense that led the Eagles to victory as they took advantage of several Coyotes’ turnovers and while they may have bent on several occasions they did not break even once throughout the final 24 minutes of play as Mission improved to 1-2 in district play and 3-4 overall.
“We go as our defense goes,” Pena said. “I like to put a lot of pressure on our defense. At halftime I told them to take pride in the fact that we’re No. 1, even though we weren’t playing like it at the time, but then in the second half we totally shut them down. This was a total team effort though and a team victory.”
The loss not only dropped the Coyotes to 2-2 in district play and 3-5 overall, but it also put a damper on La Joya’s homecoming celebrations. Even so, the Coyotes remain in the thick of the District 30-6A race while the Eagles’ playoff chances received a much-needed boost with the win.
“We’re definitely still in the playoff race,” added Pena. “We’ve got a short week to get ready for Nikki Rowe but I’m just glad that grading period is over because we kept a lot of our kids eligible throughout the program. Now we can relax and really focus on the X’s and the O’s.”
As for the Coyotes, they moved the ball well on several second half drives but costly turnovers not only kept them out of the endzone but also led to three Eagles’ touchdowns.
Immediately after his post-game talk to his team on the field of LJISD Pack Stadium, Coyotes’ head football coach George Espinoza shared how costly those turnovers were.
“Like I told the kids right now, ‘You can’t win by turning the ball over,’” he said. “We had too many interceptions. One was run back for a TD and the others led to two more. It’s just too hard to try to come back after you’ve given away 21 points.”