Almost two months into the 2019 football season the real games are about to begin for the members of UIL District 30-6A. The time includes weeks of practice, scrimmages and three non-district games all in preparation for the seven games that determine who will qualify for the 2019 post season.
The PSJA Bears are looking for a repeat of last year’s 46-25 victory over La Joya in hopes of getting back to the post season after winning the district title last year. So far this year the Bears are 1-2, their last game a 34-13 loss to San Benito.
A one point victory over La Joya Palmview to open the regular season was followed by a 30-6 win over Roma. Two weeks ago, however, things got bumpy when the Coyotes were shutout by Sharyland 23-0, putting the Coyotes at 2-1 entering district play.
There is good and bad news, depending on your perspective, as the countdown to tonight’s game clicks down.
For La Joya, the good news is that Trey Guajardo has graduated. The PSJA quarterback threw for over 500 yards and seven touchdowns in last year’s district opener.
Without him, the 2019 edition of the Bears has been on their own amusement park ride, scoring only six points in a season opening loss to Flour Bluff before putting 52 on the board in a win over Corpus Christi King. The Bears managed only one touchdown in the San Benito loss two weeks ago.
Two of Guajardo’s favorite targets from last year are back for the Bears however. Miguel Flores had 217 yards receiving and three touchdowns in the win over the Coyotes last year. He currently ranks as the top receiver among District 30-6A teams with 20 receptions on the year. Marco Guajardo had 187 yards receiving and three touchdowns in the game against La Joya last year. Two weeks ago, he caught four passes and scored the Bears only touchdown in the loss to San Benito.
The quarterback duties for PSJA are now in the hands of Justin Morales. He is coming off a 200 yard passing game against San Benito and currently leads all District 30-6A quarterbacks with over 800 yards passing thru three games.
Despite the rocky start for the Bears La Joya coach Reuben Farias is not taking their opponent lightly.
“They are a well-coached team that is very balanced on both sides of the ball,” said Farias. He went on to note how the Bears two losses have come to tough opponents.
The bad news for PSJA is that the Coyotes have Eddie Villarreal back. He is not alone either.
The senior running back ran for 146 yards and a touchdown in the game versus PSJA last season and started 2019 with a 213 yard, two touchdown performance against Palmview. After limited action against Roma, Villarreal went for 103 yards two weeks ago against Sharyland.
Overall the Coyotes are running the ball at an average of 45 times a game for over 240 yards rushing per game in 2019.
Against Roma the bulk of that work went to Rudy Olivarez and Anselmo Davila. Olivarez rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns while Davila netted 103 yards and one touchdown.
Coach Farias likes how the availability of players like Olivarez and Davila allow the Coyotes to change things up when they need a fresh back to come in.
Regardless of who is in the backfield, when you line up against La Joya you should know what’s coming. The Coyotes have only passed the ball ten times in their first three games.
As for how the Coyotes were preparing for the district opener Farias said he was emphasizing several things.
“Offensively, we have to not turn it over,” said Farias. He noted how turnovers have led to opponent points in the last few games or stopped the Coyotes own drives.
Defensively Farias said that getting his defensive off the field as quickly as possible and avoiding giving up big plays would be a key.
Whatever the outcome, the winner will get an early edge in what should be a very competitive district race. Any district loss could be the difference between a ten game season or the opportunity to extend it. The Coyotes were on the short end last year and winning tonight could be the step they need to write a different ending in 2019.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm tonight at La Joya ISD Stadium.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Sept. 27, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.