With two weeks left to go in the regular season, playoff pictures are beginning to become a little more clear.
The 10-team district of 16-5A Division I has been a marathon, not a sprint, and now, teams can finally see the finish line approaching.
Two teams that find themselves currently in the playoffs are the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots (7-1, 7-0) and the Palmview Lobos (5-3, 5-2), who are set to clash Friday night at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium in the Progress Times’ Game of the Week.
Mission Veterans is fresh off a 48-35 win over Brownsville Pace Vikings in a battle of district unbeatens to claim the top spot in 16-5A DI. The win also locked up a playoff berth for the Patriots, no matter what happens in their last two games, which means Mission Veterans has made the playoffs in 9 of the last 10 years.
The Patriots were ranked No. 4 in the Class 5A, Division I, Region IV Week 9 THSCA Coach’s Poll and with two wins in their last two games, they can become the first group to win a district title outright at a perfect 9-0.
“It’d be a great thing for all of our seniors; alot of our seniors have been playing since our sophomore year, we’ve been on this team for a long time,” Landry Gilpin said. “It would be awesome if we finally got to get one outright and got the first one in school history, so it’d be nice for us and the seniors to go out like that.”
Standing in between the Patriots and their perfect district season are the Palmview Lobos, a team hungry to clinch a playoff berth of their own.
After going winless in district a season ago, the Lobos have turned things around to put together a solid 5-2 district record and have won each game by one possession scores, proving Palmview has what it takes to win the close one in 2018.
The Lobos are coming off back-to-back wins for the second time in district play with victories over Brownsville Lopez, 30-22, and PSJA Memorial, 29-26. As things stand, Palmview is tied with Brownsville Veterans for the third spot in 16-5A DI, but with two games remaining, things will surely change.
Palmview’s remaining opponents? Mission Veterans this week, and Brownsville Veterans in the season finale, matchups with two district champions from a year ago. And while Palmview is determined and upset-minded entering the final two games, Donna High is right on their tail as they push for one of the top four spots.
“Come Friday night, we’ve got a game against a Palmview team that’s fighting for their playoff lives,” said Mission Veterans’ Head Coach David Gilpin. “They came back and kicked a field goal to beat Lopez, they’re fighting with Donna for that fourth spot right now, so we know we’re going to have our hands full and the bullseye on us once again.”
Against the Patriots, Palmview will need a big performance from runnaing back Mario Chapa, the team’s leading rusher with 960 rushing yards. He has led the Lobos offense and proven they can put up points, and he’ll be lining up against a Mission Veterans defense that surrendered 290 rushing yards just one week ago to Pace.
The Lobos defense faces the daunting challenge of stopping Landry Gilpin and the high-scoring Patriots’ offense. Since the Mission Eagles held the Patriots to just 12 points in Week 1, Mission Veterans has gone on to score 40-plus points in seven straight games. And with just two games left, the Patriots are focused on finishing perfect.
“Our goal coming in to this year was to be the outright district champions, and we’re two games away from doing that,” David Gilpin said.
Kickoff between Palmview and Mission Veterans is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium in Mission.