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On A Mission

Mission Eagles host Edinburg North Cougars tonight

The race to the District 31-6A championship has begun. The first week of district play just finished for our Big 7 Sports teams. Our teams have four more games to go to qualify for the playoffs. This week we’re going to be taking a dive into what the 0-1 Mission Eagles have going on. The last time we saw the Eagles, they were coming off a non-district win against the Juarez-Lincoln Huskies. The Eagles took that game y a score of 38-14. Tonight they’re hosting the 1-0 Edinburg North Cougars at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium.

Progress Times photo by Joe Vela

The Eagles are coming off of a tough 24-38 loss to the Edinburg Bobcats. I asked head coach Danny Longoria about the loss, “It tough with these kinds of losses, it was the first district game but we couldn’t hang on in the very end.” senior quarterback Diego Salinas spoke more on this, “It’s a tough loss, we were going strong in the first half, but in the second half we weren’t finishing plays and we came out with a loss.”

The Cougars are coming off an impressive 61-22 win against the La Joya Coyotes. That score puts them up with some of the highest scoring teams in the Rio Grande Valley with an average of 31 points per game. The majority of their points come from running the ball. The Cougars have rushed for about 1,350 yards on the season, nearly 225 yards a game. Nearly 80% of their offensive yards are via the running game so there’s no doubt that the plan this week is to do the same.

I talked to Longoria about the defensive game plan this week, “Our main focus this week are the basic fundamentals…We gotta stop the run, that’s been the main focus this season and we’ve had some good games where we have, but we have to do a really good job at tackling all together and getting off our blocks.”

If the Eagles are going to execute these plans, it’s going to start with the defense. The Eagles have a special defensive group. One of the stars in the group, senior defensive tackle Gabriel Bernal had this to say about what they’re preparing for this week, “The plan is to stop the run early. It’s important that we bounce back, we need to bounce back, we need to start winning and start stacking them up.” The Eagles are on a mission.

The downside of the Cougars this season is that they give up more points than they score. They allow 35 points per game compared to their 31. The Eagles have also scored an average of 31 points per game this season. A lot of those points come from Salinas’ production who has been the offensive leader for the Eagles this season. With over 1000 passing yards and 400 rushing yards, Salinas is one of the main contributors to their success.

With that in mind, I asked Salinas about what he’s preparing for this upcoming game, “We want to be able to throw the ball as well as run the ball. We can score a lot of touchdowns.” The Cougars are going to have a tough time containing the dual threat quarterback. If they want to win this game, they’re going to have to go through Salinas and the Eagles’ offense first.

If the Cougars were to win tonight, they would have a major advantage in District 31-6A by advancing to (2-0) in district play. If the Eagles were to win this game, they would increase their chances of making the playoffs by advancing to (1-1) in district play. A loss would of course decrease those chances.

I asked Coach Longoria about the importance of getting a win this week, “It would be big for us. First of all we have to get that first district win. That’s the main one. We have to get a W mark on our column. Second, it would give our kids the confidence and take us into the last three games of the season after this week. It’s also our second home game so we want to come out hard in front our own fans.”

Salinas concurred with his coach by saying, “This would help us along the way through the rest of our district games and give us the confidence to go for that district title and making the playoffs.”

Both of these teams are going to bring it all they got tonight. The district championship is still up for grabs for anyone who wants it. The question is: who wants it more. This game will be a test for both of these teams and the best thing that we can do is sit back and watch how it all unfolds. Good luck to the Edinburg North Cougars and the Big 7 Sports very own Mission Eagles!

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