Week Three of Valley high school football has come and gone and the seven teams from the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts, the Big 7, have posted a combined record of 12-9 on the season. Of those twelve wins, six of them have been posted by two teams that have yet to taste the agony of defeat; the Mission Eagles and the La Joya Coyotes.
Surprised? You shouldn’t be. Especially when you take into account the fact that last year the Coyotes swept their final three District 30-6A games to punch their ticket into the UIL State playoffs, and giving them what is now a six game winning streak against Valley teams. As for the Eagles, who are coming off a 4-6 2017 record, they are in their third season under the coaching of former NFL quarterback Koy Detmer, making this the first season in which every player on the varsity roster has been part of the Detmer system exclusively. And from the looks of it, that system is paying dividends.
While the Coyotes and the Eagles are off to the best starts of any of the Big 7 teams, there are two others with winning records, the 2-1 Palmview Lobos and the 2-1 Mission Veterans Patriots. While both these teams have lost a game, those losses were against non-district opponents making them both undefeated in District 16-5A-1 play with identical 2-0 records.
The remaining Big 7 teams are off to rather sluggish starts; especially the 0-3 Juarez-Lincoln Huskies, who just one year ago were at 3-0 going into Week Four. That leaves the Pioneer Diamondbacks and the Sharyland Rattlers who are both 1-2 on the season. Fortunately for these three teams, they have yet to face a district opponent. As a result, they still have time to get their acts together without their slow starts having any adverse effect at all on their chances of qualifying for the playoffs, or even of competing for a district championship.
Now that Week Four is upon us, the 30-6A teams are all enjoying a bye week. For the undefeated Eagles and Coyotes, this may not be the best timing in the world since they are on a roll and are running the risk of losing their momentum. As for the other Big 7 team with a bye this week, the winless Huskies, a week off may be just the ticket they need to work out the kinks and figure out what they need to do to chalk up their first victory of the season.
While the remaining four Big 7 teams do have games this weekend, two of them, the Patriots and the Lobos, played their Week Four games last night; the Patriots at the 1-2 Rio Grande City Rattlers and the Lobos at the 2-1 Donna Redskins. That leaves only two games featuring Big 7 teams on tonight’s schedule, Brownsville Rivera at Sharyland Pioneer and the Sharyland Rattlers at Brownsville Hanna.
With the Rivera at Pioneer game being our Game of the Week, it is being previewed separately. That leaves just one game for us to look at here, the Rattlers at Hanna game.
Sharyland Rattlers at Brownsville Hanna Golden Eagles
Before we take a look at tonight’s non-district match-up between the Sharyland Rattlers and the Brownsville Hanna Golden Eagles, let’s look back at last week’s Rattlers’ loss to the La Joya Coyotes. For those of you that might be wondering how the Coyotes managed to pull off a 31-7 win over the Rattlers. Sharyland head coach Ron Adame offered the following explanation.
“Credit needs to be given to La Joya,” Adame said. “They’ve got a strong team. Some people might say that they haven’t played anybody yet but Friday they showed that they’re a contender for their district championship.”
“They played well in all three phases,” added Adame. “Offensively they played keep-away with their ground control game and when they did throw the ball they did it effectively. They have a very athletic, quick and aggressive defense that forced some punts. And on special teams, after we stopped them on their opening possession and they punted to us, we had a muff and I believe it was their deep-snapper that recovered the ball. So we had stopped them, but then we gave them the ball with excellent field position.”
Adame went on to credit the coaching staff that Coyotes head Coach Reuben Farias has put together for turning La Joya into a contender.
“Coach Farias has some coaches on that staff that are holdovers from last year, but he also added Coach Carlos Longoria to his offensive staff,” Adame said. “He’s got some coaches that have been in the La Joya ISD for a while so they understand what the tradition of Coyote football is. And the fact that his offensive and defensive coordinators are both former head coaches is a plus as well. What it comes down to is that we got beat by a better team that night.”
If the Rattlers are going to even up their record at 2-2 tonight, they will have to get by a Brownsville Hanna team that not only defeated McAllen Memorial in Week One, but that also played the Valley’s top ranked team, Edinburg Vela, tough in Week Two.
“Hanna defeated Memorial convincingly,” Adame said. “They’re a very athletic team. They lost their last game against Vela but they played them tough. They battled Vela and that game was close. They’re a senior dominant team that saw a lot of success last year. Just like La Joya, they’re very well coached and they’re sound on offense, on defense and on special teams.”
With the Rattlers facing the possibility of going 1-3 in non-district play, Adame shared why he would not be too concerned if they did just that when he said, “We want to win every time we take the field, but when you factor in the level of competition we’ve gone up against you’re not going to win them all. These teams are all going to make the playoffs, if not win, or at least contend, for their district championships. So you need to look at the bigger picture and the fact that the quality of opposition that our boys are facing is going to help us in the long run come district time.”