“Too small, too slow, too weak.”
The Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots heard it all leading up to their area round playoff matchup with the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Patriots—and none of it mattered.
“We’re Valley weak and that’s OK,” joked Head Coach David Gilpin after the win. “We understand the concept of Valley football, but I started telling you in February what this team is capable of. They talk about how Valley teams have a weakness of playing north of the checkpoint. Well, Victoria East is north of the checkpoint and Judson Veterans Memorial is north of the checkpoint, and we had our subs in in the fourth quarter of both games.”
The Patriot offense stumbled coming out of the gate after a three-and-out on their first possession, but the onslaught was on after that.
Landry Gilpin scored five first half touchdowns, four through the air and one on the ground, as the Patriots rolled to a 35-3 lead at the break. Receiver Leo Cantu hauled in three touchdowns passes on the night.
“As of right now, we’re on a roll and we’re not going to stop now,” Cantu said after his big performance. “We’ve been on the ball for a while and it starts at practice. Our coaching staff is one of the best in Texas, we have the athletes to do it and we just work hard every day. We feel unstoppable right now.”
The Mission Veterans defense held San Antonio Veterans Memorial to a field goal on their first drive and didn’t budge the rest of the half. Jazz Vallejo put a stop to the other Patriots’ only hope with an interception to close the second quarter.
In the second half it was more of the same as the Patriots defense continued to lock down their opponent. Gus Garza came down with his second interception of the playoffs with a pick in his own end zone midway through the third quarter.
“We just drive each other, if he gets a pick, someone else wants a pick,” Vallejo said about the turnover hungry Patriot defense. “We’re just trying to compete against each other and I think that brings out the competitive nature in all of us, it makes us do great when we all put it together.”
San Antonio Veterans Memorial scored two touchdowns in the 4th quarter when Mission Veterans had already pulled its starters.
Landry Gilpin finished with 328 passing yards, 194 rushing yards and seven total touchdowns, while Cantu and fellow receiver AJ Gonzaque both posted over 100 receiving yards.
The win moves the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots to 11-1 on the year, the first team to do so in program history, and gives them their third gold ball of 2018 with a District, Bi-District and Area Championship to add to the trophy case.
The Patriots will now face Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial (12-0) in the Regional round at 8 p.m. next Saturday, Dec. 1, in the Alamodome.
“The best part is playing with my brothers that I grew up with in middle school and at the Boys & Girls Club,” said middle linebacker Joey Garcia. “We would always talk when we were small about going to play in the Alamodome, and now everything’s coming true.”