Ready or not, Valley high school football is back. And the seven varsity teams from Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts are all in action this weekend.
Originally only two Big 7 teams, the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies and the La Joya Coyotes,were scheduled to open their 2017/2018 seasons last night while the other five teams, the Mission Eagles, the Veterans Memorial Patriots, the Sharyland Rattlers, the Pioneer Diamondbacks and the Palmview Lobos, were scheduled to play tonight. However, with the renovations to the soon-to-be new and improved Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium in Mission not yet completed, the game between the Harlingen Cardinals and the VMHS Patriots, which was originally scheduled to be the stadium’s debut, had to be rescheduled and relocated to last night at McAllen’s Veterans Memorial Stadium.
Even so, there is still plenty of Big 7 football action taking place tonight.
Mission Eagles at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo North Raiders
It’s year two for KoyDetmerat Mission High School as the Eagles’ head coach, and only time will tell if the former Mission Eagles’, Colorado Buffalos’ and Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback turned high school head coach will be able to put the Mighty back in Mission Eagles. After opening their District 30-6A schedule with four straight losses last year, the Eagles pulled off the upset of the year when they defeated the Palmview Lobos by a score of 38-13 in week eight. The Eagles followed that with a 24-21 win over the McAllen High Bulldogs to close their season with a short, but promising two game win streak.
If the Eagles are going to pick up this year where they left off last year, they’re going to have to get past the PSJA North Raiders first; the same Raiders team that defeated the Eagles 39-9 in week one last year. With sophomore Damian Gomez back under center and senior Luis Valdez back at fullback for the Eagles this year, tonight’s game should be more competitive than last year’s game turned out to be.
Sharyland Rattlers at Weslaco East Wildcats
The Sharyland Rattlers will have their hands full tonight as they travel to Weslaco to take on the Weslaco East Wildcats. Last year the Wildcats handed the Rattlers a 21-14 week one home loss as they went on to put together a 4-3 record (8-5 overall) and go three rounds deep into the playoffs.
The Rattlers put together an impressive record of their own last season by going 6-2 in District 31-5A play and 7-4 overall. However their season was cut short when they lost to the Mercedes Tigers in the bi-district round of the playoffs by a score of 17-7.
Look for junior quarterback Edgar Longoria, who led Sharyland to victories over Mission Veterans Memorial and Rio Grande City last year, to lead the way offensively as the starter this year.
McAllen Memorial Mustangs at Pioneer Diamondbacks
In only their third year of existence, the 2016/2017 Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks not only qualified for the playoffs for the first time, but they earned a share of the District 31-5A title by putting together a 7-1 record (8-3 overall). Tonight the Diamondbacks will be looking to do what they couldn’t do last year by defeating 30-6A’stop team a year ago, the McAllen Memorial Mustangs.
After suffering a 40-27 week one loss at the hands of the Memorial Mustangs last year, the Diamondbacks won eight of their next nine games to tie the Laredo Nixon Mustangs with a 7-1 district record. Memorial went on to have an undefeated district record (6-0, 8-3 overall) but lost to Laredo United in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
Junior and third-year starting quarterback Jacob Rosales will be leading the Diamondbacks’ offense against the Mustangs tonight while senior linebacker Angel Chapa and senior safety Tyler will be leading the defense.
Roma Gladiators at Palmview Lobos
Despite opening their schedule with three straight losses, the 2016/2017 Palmview Lobos claimed the second seed in District 30-6A by finishing the season with a 4-2 (5-6 overall) record. Tonight the Lobos will be looking for payback against the Roma Gladiators who handed Palmview a 41-7 week one loss last year.
The Lobos will be without last year’s starting quarterback, Jonathan Zieske, and running back, Joel Pina, both of whom have graduated. But look for senior Amador De Leon to take over at quarterback and senior Jacob Pina to step into his big brother’s shoes at running back. Senior defensive end Rolando Andrade and senior cornerback Jesse Herrera are expected to lead the way defensively for the Lobos this year.