After a week in which three of the seven football teams from the Mission, Sharyland and La Joya school districts, the Big 7, had byes, all but one of the seven teams are in action this week. In addition, the two District 16-5A-II teams and the three District 30-6A teams that have been playing non-district games up to this point in the season, will be joining the Mission Veterans Patriots and the Palmview Lobos, who have been playing district games since Week 2, in playing their district schedule from here on out.
Of the four Big 7 teams that did take to the gridiron last week, three emerged victorious. And while all seven teams have experienced the agony of defeat at least once this season, their combined record of 15-10 is not too shabby at all. As a matter of fact, despite the fact that two of the Big 7 teams, La Joya and Mission, were still undefeated at this point in the season last year, four of the other five teams had .500 records or worse. This gave the 2018 Big 7 teams a slightly worse combined record of 14-11 than they have compiled thus far this season.
With the Pioneer Diamondbacks having a bye this week, and with both the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies and the Sharyland Rattlers having played their Week 5 games last night, the Huskies at PSJA North and the Rattlers at Laredo Cigarroa, there are only four games involving Big 7 teams on tonight’s schedule. This week we will look at three of those games. The fourth game, PSJA High at La Joya, is our game of the week, so it is being previewed separately.
Palmview Lobos at PSJA Southwest Javelinas
Having opened their 2019 season with back-to-back losses against the La Joya Coyotes (13-12) and the Rio Grande City Rattlers (43-14), the Lobos have evened up their record with back-to-back wins against Brownsville Porter (27-26) and Donn High (19-16). If Palmview is going to win their third District 16-5A-I game in a row however, they will have to do so against the PSJA Southwest Javelinas. While the Lobos did defeat the Javelinas last year, it was by the slimmest of margins possible, one point (28-27).
The Javelinas, who opened their 2019 campaign with wins against Edinburg Economedes (21-14), Donna High (28-14) and PSJA Memorial (41-14), suffered their first loss of the season last week at the hands of Brownsville Pace (28-14).
As of right now, the Lobos and the Javelinas are two of the four 16-5A-I teams with identical 2-1 district records. The other two are Rio Grande City and Brownsville Veterans Memorial. Coincidentally, the Rattlers and the Chargers are playing each other tonight so the four-way tie for third place, will become a two-way tie between the winners of these two games. With the winners of head-to-head matchups having a tie-breaking advantage over the losers, come playoff qualifying and seeding time, the teams winning these head-to-head matchups tonight will, for all intents and purposes, have a two game advantage over the teams they defeat. And that is what makes it so important for the Lobos to emerge victorious tonight.
Mission Veterans Patriots at Brownsville Porter Cowboys
While some may have written off the Mission Veterans Patriots after their Week 1 37-0 Battle of Conway loss at the hands of the Mission Eagles, their subsequent three game winning streak has proven that despite the loss of their 2018 All-State first team quarterback, and Mr. Football Texas, Landry Gilpin, the defending district champion Patriots are still the team to beat in District 16-5A-1.
In addition, some may have questioned Coach David Gilpin’s decision to give an unproven sophomore by the name of Ricky Reyna, the unenviable task of taking over for the younger Gilpin at quarterback. However the fact that the Reyna-led Patriots have not only won three games in a row but have put 128 points on the scoreboard in doing so, makes the 11-year head coach’s decision look like a stroke of genius. Of course the fact that Reyna has an A.J. Gonzaque to throw the ball to, and a Danny Cantu to hand the ball off to, doesn’t hurt at all.
Last year the Patriots defeated the Cowboys by a score of 55-37. While this score makes it seem as if the Cowboys put up a good fight against the Patriots, the fact is that the Patriots, who were leading by a score 55-13 at halftime, sat most of their starters in the second half.
This is something which Coach Gilpin got in the habit of doing against district opponents last year in order to not run up the score once the games were well in hand.
Against district opponents so far this year, the Cowboys are 1-2. Losses to Brownsville Pace (17-14) and the Palmview Lobos (27-26) were followed by a win against Brownsville Lopez (48-23) last week.
McAllen Memorial Mustangs at Mission Eagles
Heading into last year’s 30-6A season opening match-up between the McAllen Memorial Mustangs and the Mission Eagles, the Eagles were flying high with a 3-0 record while the Mustangs were struggling at 1-2. Throughout the first half of that game, it was looking as if the Eagles were about to go 4-0 as they led the Mustangs by a score of 28-14 at the intermission. However, Memorial put 28 points on the scoreboard in the second half while holding the Eagles to 10, to give the Mustangs a 42-38 devastating come-from-behind victory over the Eagles.
While that was then and this is now, the Koy Detmer led Eagles may not want to forget what happened last year as they host the 3-0 Mustangs at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium tonight. After all, it is said that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it. So will it be payback time for the Eagles tonight? Only time, and the scoreboard, will tell, but one thing is for sure, the Eagles have managed to close the gap between themselves and the Mustangs over the years. While a four-point loss is still a loss, gone are the days that the Mustangs would defeat the Eagles by scores of 63-28, 45-6, 67-14 and 56-0 as they have in previous seasons.
Despite the fact that this is Week 5 of Valley High School football, tonight’s game is actually the Eagles’ home opener. That’s because they were the visiting team against the Mission Veterans Patriots in the Battle of Conway, which the Eagles won 37-0, and they played the following two weeks on the road, a 55-8 win at Donna North and a 56-28 loss at Sharyland Pioneer. And with last week being District 30-6A’s bye week, the Mission faithful will finally have a chance to enjoy some “home cooking” from the home side concession stands tonight.
And if the Eagles can overcome history and pull out a win against the Mustangs tonight, it will certainly make those Frito pies and Hot Cheetos with cheese all that much tastier.
All of tonight’s Big 7 games are scheduled to kick off at 7:30 pm.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Sept. 27, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.