With four of the six Big 7 teams that took to the gridiron last week emerging victorious, and with only one of the seven having a losing record through Week 5, 2019 continues to be a good year for Mission, La Joya and Sharyland ISD football teams. Add to that the fact that one of the seven just knocked off the Valley’s No. 1 team and you could very easily say that it’s been more of a really good year thus far.
While it has often been said that all good things must come to an end, that may not be the case when it comes to teams like Mission Veterans, Sharyland High, Pioneer, Palmview and Mission High. That’s because these five teams have compiled a combined district record of 9-1 and while the Diamondbacks have yet to play a district opponent, they have won three out of four of their non-district games.
While it is unlikely that these five teams will all continue playing at such a high level, they have certainly earned the right to be taken seriously by any opponent. As a matter of fact, three of these teams, Pioneer, Mission and Mission Veterans, are currently ranked among the Valley’s elite. The Diamondbacks are ranked fourth, the Eagles are currently ranked fifth and the Patriots are currently tied with San Benito for seventh place among the Valley’s Top 10.
With the La Joya Coyotes and the Palmview Lobos having played their Week 6 games last night, the Coyotes at McAllen Memorial and the Lobos having hosted Brownsville Pace, and with the Roma at Sharyland High game being the Progress Times Game of the Week, we will look at the other three games involving Big 7 teams here.
Mission Eagles at McAllen High Bulldogs
Coming off their huge, last second win over the No. 1 ranked McAllen Memorial Mustangs last week, the Eagles will be making the short trip to Veterans Memorial Stadium in McAllen tonight to take on the McAllen High Bulldogs.
With wins over Mission Veterans (37-0), Donna North (55-8) and of course the Mustangs (28-25) and with a loss against Pioneer (56-28), the Eagles have compiled a 3-1 overall record thus far this season. As for the Bulldogs, their 2-2 overall record is a result of wins against Brownsville Lopez (40-7) and Edinburg North (29-13) and losses to Harlingen South (44-14) and Nikki Rowe (28-14).
In last week’s win over the Mustangs, Mission sophomore quarterback Jeremy Duran completed 18 of 38 passing attempts for 265 yard and three touchdowns. Duran’s three touchdown passes were caught by three different receivers; senior wide receiver Steve Villarreal, junior running back Andrew Maldonado and senior tight end Reymundo Garcia who scored the winning touchdown against the Mustangs with only three seconds remaining in the game. Duran was also the Eagles’ top rusher against the Mustangs with eight carries for 49 yards and one touchdown.
Last year the Eagles defeated the Bulldogs by a score of 37-0.
Pioneer Diamondbacks at Mercedes Tigers
Coming off their bye week, the Diamondbacks should be well-rested tonight at they travel to Mercedes to take on the Tigers. With their only loss of the season being a Week 1 42-41 heartbreaker to the Harlingen Cardinals, the Diamondbacks have improved to 3-1 by stringing back-to-back-to-back wins together against Juarez-Lincoln (57-28), Mission (56-28) and Brownsville Rivera (50-28). In their four games, Pioneer has scored 204 points for a 51 point per game average.
While the trend is for the Diamondbacks’ defense to give up 28 points per game, so far this season the Tigers have not been lighting up the scoreboard the way the Diamondbacks have. One thing that they have excelled at however is scoring 31 points per game, which they’ve done three times already this season. These include a 31-21 win over Edinburg North in Week 1, a 35-31 loss to La Feria in Week 3 and a 31-19 win against Edcouch Elsa last week. Mercedes has split their two games in which they did not score 31 points, with a Week 2 loss to Nikki Rowe (28-25) and Week 4 win against the Edinburg Bobcats (17-10).
Against the Raiders the Diamondbacks’ junior quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger completed 21 of 32 pass attempts for 421 yards and five touchdowns. Marburger also ran the ball four times for 32 yards and two touchdowns against Rivera. Marburger’s favorite target against the Raiders was junior Gavin de la Garza who caught five passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
Last year the Diamondbacks defeated the Tigers by a score of 35-12.
Nikki Rowe Warriors at Juarez-Lincoln Huskies
With a 1-3 overall and a 0-1 District 30-6A record, the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies are the only Big 7 team with a losing record. While they did get the 2019 season off to a good start by defeating Rio Hondo by a score of 27-13, they have since dropped three games in a row; a 57-28 loss to Pioneer, a 20-14 loss to the Edinburg Bobcats and a 34-19 loss to PSJA North.
Nikki Rowe on the other hand will be coming into La Joya ISD Pack Stadium tonight boasting a perfect 4-0 record.
Their wins have come against Weslaco (44-41), Mercedes (28-25), Edinburg North (36-14) and McAllen High (28-14).
Last year the Warriors defeated the Huskies by a score of 45-14.
All of tonight’s Big 7 games are scheduled to kick off at 7:30.
This article originally appeared in the Friday Oct. 4, 2019 issue of the Progress Times.