The Mission Eagles are flying high this season. Head Coach Koy Detmer and his team on the rise (4-1, 1-1) have put together the best start at Mission High since 2013 and show no signs of slowing down.
“I’m excited–this team is incredible,” said junior quarterback Damian Gomez. “We can do things that a lot of people don’t expect us to do, but we’re on the come up, we’re on the rise.”
And if the Eagles plan on keeping up heir strong play and adding another victory in Week 7, they’ll have to do something they haven’t been able to in Detmer’s previous two years: beat the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies.
The Huskies have topped the Eagles by a combined score of 66-35 over the past two seasons, and nearing desperation mode with a 0-5, 0-2 record this year, Juarez-Lincoln is going to do everything in their power to keep Mission winless in their past three meetings.
The Huskies record may not say much, but their play on the field does the talking. While Juarez-Lincoln has failed to win a game in 2018, they’ve been competitive almost every week before falling apart in the second halves of games, a trend that has cost them late multiple times.
Juarez-Lincoln tends to storm out of the gates but fades as the quarters pass. That was the case in their district opener when they held a 29-20 halftime lead over PSJA North, only to lose by a final score of 34-29. The Huskies have been held scoreless in the second half in three out of five games on the year.
Still, Detmer and the Eagles aren’t taking the winless Huskies lightly. After last year’s 45-28 loss, they know firsthand what the dynamic duo in the Juarez-Lincoln backfield can do.
“We know this is a tough district and every week is a challenge,” the third-year Mission Head Coach said. “Anybody can get anybody on any given Friday night. We know they’re a tough defense and they have that quarterback-running back combination that’s really tough, so it’ll be a good one.”
As juniors, brothers Efren and Albert Martinez ripped apart the Eagle defense. Efren, the quarterback, completed just four passes on the night but two of them went for scores to receiver Luis Rodriguez. Albert, the running back, ran all over Mission for 238 yards rushing and two scores of his own.
This year is different though. The Mission Eagle defense is as energized as ever after pitching a shutout last week in their 37-0 dismantling of the McHi Bulldogs.
The play of guys like Alek Gomez, Steve Villarreal, Justin Soto and Joe Resendez sparks a chain-reaction of swagger across the defense. Mission plays with a hit-you-in-the-mouth attitude because that’s what they do every Friday night for 48 minutes.
“When one of us does good, it brings us energy,” Soto said. “We feed off it and we don’t quit until the final whistle.”
While the Eagle is known for taking flight, the Mission offense gets it done with the ground game. Running back Tito Moronta, fullback Andrew Maldonado and quarterback Damian Gomez each prove a threat who can will around defenders, over defenders, or both. And when the defenses send an extra man into the box to try to stop the run, Damian Gomez and his pass-catching corps of Sebastian Gonzalez, Al Tijerina, Rey Garcia and Villarreal are more than capable of going deep and making big plays downfield.
Moronta is averaging 105.8 rushing yards per outing with five touchdowns, while Gomez leads the team with six rushing scores, most coming by way of the quarterback sneak, a seemingly impossible play to defend when Mission gets around the goalline.
The clash between the Huskies and Eagles is sure to provide big hits and big runs as both teams fight for a district win.
Kickoff between the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies and Mission Eagles is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at La Joya Pack Stadium.