In the classic Hollywood movie, ‘The Wizard of Oz’, Judy Garland’s character, Dorothy Gale’s, favorite phrase was, “There’s no place like home.” While a farm girl from Kansas who suddenly finds herself in a far-off land being chased by an evil witch and her flying monkeys, might think that there’s no place like home, so far this season there’s been no place like the road for the Palmview Lobos.
The Lobos are a perfect 4-0 on the road this season and a perfectly dismal 0-3 at home. Why that is, only a great and powerful wizard might know. But with it being the Lobos’ turn to be the home team in tonight’s game against the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies, one would think that they might be better off sneaking their equipment over to the east side of the field at La Joya’s Pack Stadium and laying claim to the visitors sideline before the Huskies arrive.
In what could be called a sequel to last season’s 24-19 Palmview win over Juarez-Lincoln, tonight’s game will be the sixth head-to-head gridiron matchup in the two team’s eight-year history. With the Huskies having taken the first four games in the series, the Lobos finally dropped a house on Juarez-Lincoln in Week 9 of last year as Palmview, not only defeated the Huskies for the first time in school history, but then went on to earn District 30-6A’s third seed in the playoffs and a bi-district championship.
At first glance, tonight’s matchup between the 0-3 Huskies (1-6 overall) and the 2-1 Lobos (4-3 overall) may not seem like much of a draw at the box-office. However Juarez-Lincoln has always played Palmview tough and despite their current record, Lobos’ head coach Margarito “Mage” Requenez is worried about the Huskies ability to light up the scoreboard quicker than a tin man would rust solid in the Valley’s humidity.
“We need to make sure that we control the tempo against the Huskies,” Requenez said. “They can score and put up points very quickly. They have a lot of speed and that is one thing that concerns me. It’s almost as if they can flip a switch and score points on you like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Against Nikki Rowe they came back and pulled ahead in a game that they should’ve won,” Requenez added. “Then against McAllen High they turned on the switch in the third quarter and put up 21 points in a heartbeat. So they’re capable of moving the ball on you anytime and on any given play. That’s what concerns me the most.”
Much of the Lobos success can be attributed to the running of Joel Pina, the throwing of Andrew Puente and the pass-catching of Damian Quintanilla. Going into tonight’s game, Pina has carried the ball 119 times for 1,148 yards and 18 touchdowns. Quintanilla has 23 receptions for 346 yards and four touchdowns.
“Our main strategy is to establish the run in order to open up the passing game,” explained Requenez. “When we run successfully, our opponents have to play a different kind of defense against us and that opens up Damian. It’s hard for people to defend him one-on-one so he will get his big numbers when we are able to do that.”
With the district’s two top teams, McAllen Memorial and McAllen High, still looming ahead for the Lobos, Palmview must find a way to draw back the curtain on Juarez-Lincoln’s series success over them and figure out what it will take to make them melt. Otherwise they may find themselves needing the help of that same great and powerful wizard to get them into the playoffs.