Playoff runs, setting program records and practicing during Thanksgiving–it’s just what Mission Veterans does.
The Patriots have been crowned bi-district champions for the 5th consecutive year after a 69-21 beatdown of the Victoria East Titans last Friday night at Tom Landry Stadium, adding another gold ball to sit next to their District 16-5A Division I Championship trophy.
The 69 points scored by the Patriots in the opening round is an all-time playoff high at Mission Veterans. Landry Gilpin finished with 385 passing yards, 270 rushing yards and eight total touchdowns against Victoria East, connecting with Leo Cantu for two, Ralph Ochoa for two, and junior receiver Mikey Garcia made his return from injury in a big way as he hauled in two touchdowns of his own on six receptions for 114 yards.
Head Coach David Gilpin was proud of his team’s complete effort in the onslaught.
“One of the best games that I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been coaching 29 years,” Coach Gilpin said. “For us to come out and be able to beat a Victoria school with the type of athletes and type of size and speed that they have, it was really a good thing for our program.”
While the Patriot offense usually gets all the attention, it was the Mission Veterans defense who set the tone early in their opening round playoff game.
Linebacker Joey Garcia, one of the team’s senior captains who missed time with a shoulder injury earlier in the year, made his impact felt right away as he had a tackle for loss on the first snap, a preview of what was to come. Garcia finished the game with 16 total tackles and three for a loss to lead the Mission Veterans defense in what Coach Gilpin said was the unit’s best performance all season.
“We just got tired of people not talking about us,” Garcia said. “They think our defense is alright, but we just wanted to go out there and prove everybody wrong and that’s what we did.”
Leading up to the game, Coach Gilpin was in his linebacker’s ear.
“Gotta have it, that’s the term I use with him, we gotta have it,” Coach Gilpin said of his linebacker’s play. “Joey’s got such a big heart and he took what we had to say and applied it from the first snap until we pulled him mid-third quarter. He was phenomenal, he was a man possessed, playing with his hair on fire, the defense was just lights out.”
The Patriots tradition of practicing during Thanksgiving means they have something to play for, something this year’s group doesn’t take lightly.
“It’s do-or-die now, and it’s do-or-die forever,” said senior quarterback Landry Gilpin. “We want to do the best of can because we don’t want it over for all of us. We’re a group of brothers and it’s hard to see each other down, so we’re trying to do our best to stay up right now.”
Next up for Mission Veterans? The Battle of the Patriots.
VMHS’ area round opponent, the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Patriots, were the second place finisher in District 13-5A as they posted a 7-1 league record while going 8-3 overall.
The other Patriots are coming off a 35-33 playoff victory against Laredo Martin where their ground attack got the job done as quarterback Jaden Sommers and running back Imari Motley combined to score four touchdowns.
Now, the two schools from different cities who share the same name are set to clash Friday night in the second round of the playoffs.
“We’ve seen our playoff path since February; that path has been laid out for us, now the job is for us to get there,” said Coach Gilpin . “We took step one, you’ve heard me talk about five gold balls and we just got number two.”
The Class 16-5A Division I Area Round matchup between the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots and the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Patriots is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 23 at Cabaniss Stadium in Corpus Christi.
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