The Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots began the season gold ball chasin’, and after eight weeks of district play, they have their first of 2018 … and they aren’t done yet.
The Patriots clinched the District 16-5A Division I Championship Friday night with their 55-38 win over the Palmview Lobos, and for the first time in program history, they sit alone on the throne.
“First time we’ve ever won it by ourselves, first time to go outright, and it’s something we talked about at the beginning of the season,” Mission Veterans Head Coach Davild Gilpin said after the victory. “One of our goals was to win it outright. We felt good about the team we had, we knew what we were capable of. While we’ve wanted a district championship and we’re happy about it, that was not our ultimate goal. This year’s team, I want to see make a playoff run.”
The battle between the Patriots (8-1, 8-0) and the Lobos (5-4, 5-3) began as a shootout with three touchdowns scored in the game’s first three minutes.
Landry Gilpin punched in a 3-yard score for the game’s first points, to which Palmview answered with a 67-yard touchdown run by their workhorse running back Mario Chapa.
That’s when the Gilpin-Gonzaque connection took over.
Gilpin and sophomore receiver AJ Gonzaque exploded for three first half touchdowns, and each time, Gonzaque played bully ball and skied over Palmview’s defensive backs for the hat trick.
Palmview’s offense was able to keep pace with the Patriots in the first half as they scored three rushing touchdowns thanks to runs by Chapa, fullback Adrian Vasquez and quarterback David Flores.
In the second half, the Patriots came out rolling and put together long scoring drives as Gilpin found John Aguilar for six and ran in another to extend the lead to 48-24. The Mission Veterans defense, minus a few starters, stepped up big in the third quarter and surrendered just three points on Palmview’s three possessions.
“Right now offensively, we’re rolling on all cylinders,” Coach Gilpin said. “Defensively and special teams, we’re still working. We’re not perfect, but in the second half, they had three possessions and scored just three points.”
The Lobos managed to score to late touchdowns on runs by Flores and Carlos Pena, but Landry Gilpin and his eight total touchdowns were too much to overcome.
Mission Veterans locked up the district crown with their win and a Brownsville Pace loss Friday night, the first time in program history the Patriots have won the title outright. The Patriots will travel to Brownsville to take on the Lopez Lobos on Thursday, Nov. 8 in their district finale with the opportunity to finish a perfect 9-0 in league play.
“We’ve won four bi-district championships in a row; this is a program on the rise and we’re excited about what we’re doing,” Coach Gilpin said. “This team, we felt had the opportunity to come out and really have this kind of year. We’ll celebrate tonight and start getting ready for Lopez and try to finish out district a perfect 9-0.”
The Palmview Lobos host the Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9 as they continue to fight for the playoffs.