The first round of the Texas football state playoffs is in the rear view and only two Big 7 teams are left standing–the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots and the Sharyland Rattlers.
Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots (10-1) punched their ticket into the second-round for the fourth consecutive year with a home-win in a defensive slugfest against the Brownsville Lopez Lobos 25-17. Facing one of the Valley’s top defenses, the Patriots relied on the arm of junior quarterback Landry Gilpin to get the job done. Gilpin, who leads the state of Texas in total yards with 4,430 yards to average 402.7 per game, finished with 303 passing yards and 28 rushing yards to go with two scores.
The Patriots third touchdown against Lopez came on a pick-six as junior linebacker Joey Garcia read the eyes of the Lobos quarterback and broke on a route, returning it 40-yards to the house. The Patriots, who are without four defensive starters due to injuries, played big and shut down a last second effort from the Lobos to advance to the round of 32 for the fourth year in a row.
Waiting in the wings for the Patriots is a familiar foe, the Flour Bluff Hornets.
Flour Bluff (9-1), like Mission Vets, has only tasted defeat once this year as they finished second in 30-5A. This will be the sixth postseason meeting between the two powerhouses who have become consistent players in the Texas state playoffs.
The Hornets shut down San Antonio Southside 28-2 last Friday in the bi-district round to advance. In the team’s 2016 meeting in the area round, it was the Patriots who prevailed over the Bluff 28-14. This year, Mission Vets’ Head Coach David Gilpin will be looking to bring the head-to-head record to 3-3 and put the Patriots in the third round for a second-consecutive season.
“Two and three against Flour Bluff the last eight years,” Coach Gilpin said. “We’ve played them five times, this will be number six in nine years. Flour Bluff is legit every year and we know that; there is no such thing as a bad Flour Bluff team, so the 9-1 team we’re meeting in the playoffs is pretty good.”
The Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots and the Flour Bluff Hornets are set for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff at Hornet Stadium in Corpus Christi.
The other team left standing is the Sharyland Rattlers (9-2), who worked their way to the area-round with a shootout victory on the road over the Brownsville Pace Vikings, 59-43, but were never truly in danger. The Rattlers owned a 31-7 lead heading into the locker room at the break and were up 45-21 entering the final quarter.
Junior quarterback Edgar Longoria led the Rattlers with 266 yards through the air and three touchdown passes to go with 117 yards on the ground and another score. Senior slot receiver Blake Klein was named Sharyland’s offensive player of the week as he racked up 152 rushing yards on nine carries and seven receptions for 103 yards, scoring one touchdown on the ground and hauling in one touchdown from Longoria. The offensive output was Sharyland’s highest of the year as they totaled 703 yards.
The Rattlers will need another impressive showing as they travel to take on the Alice Coyotes (8-3) with kickoff at 4 p.m. in Memorial Stadium in Alice.
Alice knocked off Floresville 44-25 on their home-field in the bi-district round to win their third game in a row. This is Alice’s first postseason victory since 2013, when current players were 8th graders in junior high.
The Rattlers defensive unit will be tasked with stopping a dangerous offense that has averaged 37 points per game in its three game win-streak.
While the Rattlers and the Patriots are onto the second-round of the playoffs, two other Big 7 teams had solid showings in last week’s bi-district matchups.
The La Joya Coyotes and second-year Head Coach Reuben Farias qualified for the playoffs for the first time since 2014, but dropped their bi-district matchup 14-7 on the road against the San Antonio Southwest Dragons, who earned a share of the District 29-6A title. The Coyote defense proved why they finished as the top defensive unit in 30-6A as they held the Dragons to a season-low 246 total offensive yards when they had been averaging 370 per game.
La Joya’s lone score came on a 42-yard throw from senior quarterback Irving Garcia to senior receiver Mariano Resendez. Known for their run game, the Dragons were averaging 310 rushing yards per game, but the Coyote defense held them to a season-low 182.
The Pioneer Diamondbacks qualified for the playoffs back-to-back years for the first time in program history, but are still in search of their first playoff win after falling to the Mercedes Tigers 68-31 in the bi-district round. Playing in Mercedes, the Diamondbacks kept the contest competitive through the first three quarters, heading into the fourth down 34-24. In the final quarter, the Tigers outscored Pioneer 34-7 to lock up the victory.
Junior quarterback Jacob Rosales finished with 319 yards through the air and 82 on the ground to go with four scores. Senior receiver William Proctor brought in eight catches for 103, while senior running back Logan Harris and junior receiver Roel Cajero were on the receiving end of Rosales’ touchdown passes.
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