Big 7 football – Year in review
Time flies when you’re having fun – and during football season. It seems like just a few weeks ago Week 1 of Valley high school football kicked off. But here we are on the day after Thanksgiving looking back at 11 weeks of district play and two weeks of playoff action – all in the books.
While a handful of Valley teams are still alive-and-kicking in the state playoffs, all seven of the Sharyland, Mission and La Joya ISD teams have hung up their helmets for the final time this year. Of those Big 7 teams, four hit the playoffs jackpot, and two teams extended their seasons one week longer by earning bi-district championships.
Unlike the three previous seasons when the Sharyland Rattlers reached the third round of the playoffs, both the Rattlers and the Veterans Memorial Patriots lost their Area round playoff games last week to the nemesis of most Valley high school football teams – out-of-Valley opponents. Even so there were quite a few records broken, milestones reached and firsts achieved, making the 2015-16 football season a memorable one.
For the first time in school history the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies football team extended their season into the playoffs, defeating the Palmview Lobos, Mission Eagles and La Joya Coyotes to close out their District 30-6A schedule on a three-game winning streak.
While the Huskies lost their bi-district round matchup against Laredo United, claiming the La Joya City Championship and qualifying for postseason play are both milestones that made their 2015 football season one to remember.
One year after qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in school history, the Palmview Lobos made it to the playoffs again this year despite their 2-4 District 30-6A record. The Lobos, who ended district play in a four-way tie for fourth place, had the tie-breakers go their way earning them the district’s fourth and final seed.
After opening their district schedule with a 2-1 record, Palmview failed to win another game all season as they lost their final three games of their district schedule and then proceeded to lose their bi-district round game to Del Rio. So while the Lobos failed to earn a bi-district championship, as they did last year, they did qualify for back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in school history.
Veterans Memorial Patriots
While the Veterans Memorial Patriots did lay claim to a bi-district championship this year, that in-and-of-itself was not a milestone since they had done the same twice before. However the fact that they did so after having lost their top two quarterbacks, forcing them to close out their district schedule and enter the playoffs with a freshman at the helm, made this otherwise notable achievement that much more remarkable.
With freshman Landry Gilpin under center, the Patriots won three of their final four District 31-5A games to clinch a playoff berth and earn the right to face off against District 32-5A’s champions, the Donna Redskins, in the bi-district round. And it was against those same Redskins that Gilpin made the leap from impressive to phenomenal as he rushed for a school record of 295 yards on 24 carries, four of which resulted in touchdowns. As if that weren’t enough, Gilpin also completed eight of 19 passes for 101 yards and one touchdown against the highly touted Redskins’ defense.
While the Patriots’ season came to an end against Victoria West last Friday, in the Area round, their 2015 campaign will go down as one of the most memorable in school history due to the way the team rallied around their young-but-talented quarterback that led them as far as any Patriots’ team has ever gone.
At first glance the 2015 season may look to some as a step back for the Sharyland Rattlers football team. After three consecutive years of reaching the third round of the state playoffs, the Rattlers’ season came to an end in round two this year when they fell to Calallen, 42-21, last Friday.
However, with only a handful of last year’s starters on this year’s roster, Rattlers’ head coach Ron Adame and his staff may have pulled off the best coaching job of their four-year tenure at Sharyland by leading a team many had low expectations of to a bi-district championship and to the brink of the third round of the playoffs.
The play of senior, but first-time starting quarterback, Manny Campos contributed greatly to Sharyland’s success this year, especially in the playoffs. His 310 yards passing and 114 yards rushing against the Mercedes Tigers in the bi-district round of the playoffs accounted for all but five of the Rattlers’ total yards as they claimed their fourth consecutive bi-district championship by defeating Mercedes, 45-35.