It’s been an up-and-down season for the 6A Big 7 football teams. The Palmview Lobos and La Joya Coyotes both seemed to be on the path to their second playoff appearances in as many years, while Mission and Juarez-Lincoln both seemed to be destined to another year of being stuck on the outside looking in.
However, with only two games left on their district schedules, the Lobos and Coyotes are both coming off losses, while recent wins by the Eagles and the Huskies have revived their playoff hopes.
At 2-2 in district play, the Eagles control their own playoff destiny as they take on the Huskies at Pack Stadium in La Joya tonight, then finish up their regular season at home against McAllen Memorial next Friday. If Mission can manage two wins, they will improve their district record to 4-2 and be all-but-assured of their first playoff appearance since their 9-2, 2012 season when they took the District 32-4A championship.
While a win against the Huskies tonight is well within the realm of possibility, closing out their district schedule against the undefeated, and the Valley’s top-ranked, McAllen Memorial Mustangs next week makes it unlikely that the Eagles will win both games. While anything is possible, even Mission head coach Mario Pena readily admits that the Mustangs are the class of the district.
“I’ve told my boys all year that there is one team in the district that’s head and shoulders above everybody else, and that’s the McAllen Memorial Mustangs,” Pena said. “Aside from them we can play with anybody in the district. We let one go against McAllen High that really hurt, but these guys have shown a lot of resiliency and they haven’t quit, so I’m very proud of them.”
As for the Huskies, their 0-3 District 30-6A start did not bode well for making this their first playoff-qualifying season in school history. However, after their 21-15 win over the Palmview Lobos Saturday, Juarez-Lincoln head coach Tomas Garcia was talking playoffs.
“We believe that we’re a playoff team,” Garcia said. “We want to win out by beating Mission Friday and La Joya next week. Beating Palmview and La Joya is not about defeating our sister schools, it’s about getting into the playoffs.”
With five teams currently ahead of them in the standings, the Huskies are facing an uphill road to the playoffs even if they do win-out. However all they can do at this point in the season is defeat Mission tonight and La Joya next week and hope that at least two of the three 2-2 teams ahead of them lose their remaining games. Those 2-2 teams are Palmview, Mission and La Joya.
As for the Lobos, they still have the district’s top two teams ahead of them, the 4-0 Mustangs and the 3-2 McAllen High Bulldogs. That makes it possible, if not probable, that they will be one of the teams that the Huskies could leapfrog in the standings if they do win-out.
The Coyotes on the other hand have the last place 1-4 Nikki Rowe Warriors on their schedule tonight. Should the Warriors make the Coyotes their second district victims of the year, the Huskies will then be able to help their own cause greatly by defeating the Coyotes next week.
With only two weeks remaining in district play and with six of the seven 30-6A teams still in the playoff hunt, it’s pretty much anybody’s guess who will be in. However, it’s a certainty that two of the district’s four playoff teams will be Big 7 teams. The outcome of tonight’s game between the Eagles and the Huskies will go a long way towards determining which two they will be.