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It Starts Here

Patriots host Diamondbacks in district opener

After going almost two weeks without Friday night lights, we finally get to watch some action unfold. This week is very special. All of our Big 7 football teams finished non-district play for the season which means that district play begins today. The best football is yet to come. District opening up means that every win and every loss from here on out will hold more weight.

This week we’re kicking off district play with two of the elite Big 7 Sports teams going against each other. We’re visiting Tom Landry Stadium as the Mission Veterans Patriots face off against the Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks. We couldn’t have asked for a better game to open up district play. This matchup will start one of these teams off on the right foot while the other will have to claw their way back into the district with the games that they have left. Last year, teams that made it to the playoffs only lost 3 games out of their 5. This year should be no different.

Let’s see how both of these teams stacked up against their non-district opponents this season.

The Diamondbacks found a lot of success against their non-district opponents this season. They went (5-0) and did it in dominant fashion, outscoring their opponents 215 to 128. The Diamondbacks have scored 40+ points in four of their five games. They are of course led by their senior quarterback Julian Valdez. Valdez has thrown for 1,517 yards and rushed for 335 yards. Valdez has found the end zone 25 times to go along with his 1,800 total yards.

Photo Credit: Joe Vela

I asked Diamondbacks’ head coach Eddie Galindo to tell me more about the impact that Valdez has on this team, “He’s a tough kid, he’s one of those kids that lets his play do the talking for him, he does the things that are necessary for us to be successful.” I then asked Galindo to tell me about the team’s success and what that does for them as they go into district play, “It gives us some momentum…I call it the preseason, everyone is 0-0 right now. Our district is a tough district and we have to be prepared as anyone because there’s quality ball clubs in our district.”

This high scoring offense is going to have their work cut out for them this week as they face the Patriots. Galindo went on to tell me, “Mission Vets is one of those teams at the top, it’s going to be a tough ball game and we’re going to have to do the little things right because we will have our hands full.”

Speaking of the Patriots, I got the chance to speak to their head coach David Gilpin about what he’s preparing for this week against this Diamondbacks, “We’re battle tested…we’ve been in the fire and we’re still standing, we are ready to roll. Every week is going to be a battle and there are no gimmes in our district and we’re opening up with the highest ranked team in our district.”

The Patriots haven’t found the same success that the Diamondbacks have found with a (2-3) non-district record, but they bring the same kind of energy to every game they play. They have scored at least 21 points against non-district opponents, including 30+ points in three of five games. They are coming off their highest scoring performance against the Hanna Eagles where they were led offensively by their senior quarterback Braden Luedeker.

Luedeker accounted for seven touchdowns in this game to go along with his 328 passing yards and his 100 rushing yards. This kind of production to end non-district play and begin district play is exactly what Luedeker and his team needs in order to make the push for the playoffs. I got the chance to speak to Luedeker about what that kind of momentum does for him and his team moving forward, “We got that win after losing three in a row. It allowed our guys to see what we can really do against that kind of team. Having our younger guys get some confidence underneath them as well as some of the older guys taking the reins and showing them how to do it, it allows for a lot of confidence and we have a lot of belief that we’re going to make it far into the


Leudeker has passed for 1,511 yards and rushed for 470 yards to go along with his 22 touchdowns going into district play. He told me, “I got the ability to extend plays on my feet, I’m not scared of contact, I’m not scared to lower my shoulder, so if I have to take a few hits and keep going then I’m going to continue to do that for my team.” I asked Gilpin to tell me about the impact that Luedeker brings to the team, “He’s done it every game…Luedeker gives us an opportunity to win every time he steps on the field, he’s a very talented young man, very competitive man, great work ethic, comes every day to practice like it’s a game…He’s a very talented player and we’re very fortunate to have him.”

Though this Diamondbacks team is going to be a true test of strength, the Patriots aren’t looking for anything to come easy. Gilpin told me more about this, “We don’t believe in moral victories, we’re not out here for no participation ribbons or none of that stuff. We’re out here to win football games.”

This game is going to put one of these two teams in the right direction. Both of these teams made the playoffs last season and both of these teams have plans on being there again. These two high-powered offenses are going to collide tonight and the best thing you can do is watch as they go at it. I wish both of these Big 7 Sports teams could win tonight. Good luck to the Patriots and the Diamondbacks as they look to win their first district game of the season!

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