Gridiron greats

Big 7 All-district football selections revealed

It was another good year for the teams of the Big 7 on the football field. Just a glance at the recently announced all-district teams from the respective zones the teams of the Big 7 were a part of in the 2020 season will tell you that.

Top awards for the five teams in the Big 7 that competed this year included several special awards; one district MVP, two offensive MVPs and two defensive MVPs in addition to numerous first team selections.

The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks, whose season ended two weeks ago in the Class 5A Div. II Region IV final, led the schools of the Big 7 with three players recognized for top awards as well as having 13 first team selections.

Tops on the list is quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger, named the District 16-5A Div. II West Zone Most Valuable Player for his role in propelling the Diamondbacks to their second straight district title and to the fourth round of the state playoffs. Other members of Pioneer’s high scoring offense were recognized as well.

Receiver Joseph Graham Jr. was the Co-Offensive Newcomer of the Year and Mason Villegas was the Offensive Lineman of the Year. Receivers Tristan Castillo and Mike Ramos Jr. were first teamers along with guard Lauro Ramon.

The Diamondbacks placed seven members of their defense on the first team; Ryan Bulthuis, Guillermo Guerrero, Trevor Huddleston, Marco Oviedo, Jay Palacios, Matthew Solis and Alejandro Vasquez.
Castillo, Graham and Ramos were also given first team recognition for their play on special teams.

In the same district, the Sharyland High Rattlers had two players recognized for top awards along with 11 who received first team honors. Linebacker Jesus ”Blady” Cavazos was the districts Defensive Most Valuable Player and running back Rolie Saenz was Co-Offensive Newcomer of the Year.

Quarterback Benji Valdivia was named to the first team as well as linemen Robert Carpio and Matthew Worthington. Defensive first teamers for the Rattlers were Cesar Diaz, Mauricio Galindo, Alan Gonzalez, Alek Gonzalez, Jake Martinez and Javi Trevino.

Kali Nguma and Bo Krell were recognized as first teamers for their play on special teams.
The Mission Veterans Patriots, also part of District 16-5A Div. II, were recognized with two top awards as well as seven first team selections.

Receiver AJ Gonzaque was named the zones’ Offensive Most Valuable Player and linebacker Luis De Hoyos was the Defensive Newcomer of the Year. First teamers on the offense for the Patriots were Isaiah Baker, Jaythan Barrera, Noah Garcia, Ricky Reyna and Justin Rodriguez. Defensively, the team had Mike De Leon and Pedro Salinas on the first team.

Mission High finished as the District 31 -6A runner-up and capped off the season with their third straight playoff appearance and a bi-district playoff win. That success led to one top award from the entire district to go with 16 zone first team selections.

Defensive lineman Dante Lopez was the district Defensive Most Valuable Player. Other Eagles defenders named to the west zone first team were Luis Balderas, Zeke Cuadros, Christian Hernandez, Justin Soto and Jose Tovar.

Offensive players on the zones’ first team were Damian Cortez, Jose Luis Cortez, Jeremy Duran, Tahj Jones, Andrew Maldonado, Jaden Morales, Isaac Moya and Joey Ortiz. Duran, Jones and Ortiz were also recognized for their play on special teams.

The La Joya Palmview Lobos had two players win top awards for their play in the District 16-5A Div. I West Zone and two others named to the first team.

Running back Carlos Pena was the districts Offensive Most Valuable Player and George Speedon was the Offensive Newcomer of the Year at the same position. Edward Chapa and Albert Vargas were recognized as first teamers for their play on the defensive line (Chapa) and offensive line (Vargas).

In addition to the athlete awards, Pioneer coach Tom Lee was named the District 16-5A Div. II West Zone Coach of the Year.

In spite of the numerous obstacles placed before them this season due to the coronavirus, the teams of the Big 7 performed well in 2020. Besides the playoff successes of Pioneer and Mission High, both Sharyland High and Mission Veterans were in position to make the postseason going into the last week of the regular season. Palmview’s season didn’t result in any victories but each of their three losses was by seven points or less.

Many of the area’s top players like Marburger, Cavazos, Gonzaque, Lopez and Pena were seniors but others like Graham Jr., De Hoyos and Speedon will be back.

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