If you’re still sleeping on the La Joya Coyotes, you must’ve missed the wake up call Friday night.
The Coyotes rolled through the Sharyland Rattlers 31-7 on a rainy night at Richard Thompson Stadium to improve to 3-0 on the season, something La Joya hasn’t done in years.
Things were clicking for the Coyotes in all three phases as they put up 30-plus points for the third straight game, the defense allowed less than 150 yards, and the special teams unit forced one turnover and nailed a 33-yard field goal.
“Tonight, I think all phases played out good for us,” said La Joya Head Coach Reuben Farias. “We made some good kicks and had good coverage. Overall, offensively we continued to move the ball. Defensively, we knew that they needed to play better and we’re proud of them. Each week, we’re facing better teams and it was a good test against a good ball club.”
The Coyotes passed the test and capitalized on an early mistake by the Rattlers. A muffed punt deep in Sharyland territory was recovered by La Joya’s Charlie Alvarez, which set up a 15-yard run by Eddie Villarreal to put the Coyotes up 7-0
On Sharyland’s ensuing drive, senior quarterback Oscar Valdez marched the Rattler offense down to the edge of the La Joya endzone, setting up a crucial 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line. A handoff to Sharyland’s Adrian Solis was stuffed by a pack of Coyotes, forcing a turnover on downs.
“We made some big plays defensively, and that 4th-and-1 we made a big stop,” Farias said. “It was just the nail in the coffin of setting the tone offensively and defensively, knowing that we were going to be in a dogfight.”
The Coyotes went on to score 24 straight points, including a second touchdown from the bruising running back Villarreal who totaled 165 rushing yards on the night. And when the Sharyland defense keyed in on the La Joya ground game, senior quarterback J.R. Rodriguez took advantage and hurt them over the top with touchdown throws of 34-yards to Irvin Zamora and 16-yards to Jacob Gonzalez.
“All our team contributed to this win and we all worked as a unit,” Rodriguez said. “3-0 means a lot to me and it means a lot to this team.”
The La Joya defense nearly pitched a shutout for the second week in a row. Zamora and Aaron Del Bosque each finished with an interception, while the entire unit held the Rattlers to just 20 yards rushing.
Sharyland’s lone score came in the final quarter as Valdez connected with Ruben Davila on a 9-yard pass. Valdez finished with 117 yards passing, a score and two interceptions, while Davila brought in five catches for 65 yards and the touchdown.
The loss sends Sharyland to 1-2 on the year with a road matchup against a talented Brownsville Hanna team set for next Friday.
With the win, La Joya improves to 3-0 and moves on to their Open Week before they begin district play Sept. 27 against PSJA.