Undefeated Diamondbacks face their toughest test yet
Only four weeks remain in the Texas High School Football regular season. Soon, district champions and playoff qualifiers will be all that remains. Big Seven teams are clamoring to be among the select few. Last week’s lackluster 2-5 overall record has been a trend this year, but there’s still time for teams to chart new courses. This week continues district play with several marquee matchups on the docket.
The La Joya Coyotes and La Joya Juarez-Lincoln Huskies (0-6) played last night. The Huskies traveled to McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium to face the resurgent McAllen Memorial Mustangs (4-2) in hopes of securing their first victory in two seasons and fighting off playoff elimination. The La Joya Coyotes (0-5) traveled to PSJA Stadium to face the offensive firepower of the PSJA Bears (3-3). Much like is the case with the Huskies, a loss would eliminate the Coyotes from playoff contention. Scores from these games were not available at the time of printing.
In one of tonight’s Big 7 matchups, the Mission Eagles (2-4) will face off against the Edinburg North Cougars (3-3) at Tom Landry Hall of Fame Stadium. The Eagles will look to avoid a 0-2 District 31-6A start vs the defending district champions. Be sure to read our game of the week preview for information on that game.
Here is a look at tonight’s other matchups involving Big 7 teams.
Rio Grande City (2-4) @ La Joya Palmview (2-4)
The La Joya Palmview Lobos host the Rio Grande City Rattlers tonight at La Joya ISD Football Stadium in search of their first district win. So far this season, the Lobos’ opponents have outscored them by 100 points. Their four total losses have been to teams with a combined 18-3 record: the McAllen Nikki Rowe Warriors (2-1), the McAllen Memorial Mustangs (4-2), The Roma Gladiators (6-0), and the PSJA North Raiders (6-0). After three consecutive losses, The Lobos want to get on track versus a familiar foe. The Lobos defeated the Rattlers in a low-scoring affair last year, 17-14. This year should be the same. The Lobos must feed running backs Jose Guerra and Angel Gallegos to notch their first district victory. The duo is averaging over 200 yards a game. Their productivity will be necessary to keep the Rattler offense off the field. The Lobos should be victorious if they can contain the Rattler rushing attack, hold on to the football, and finish sustained drives.
Mission Veterans ( 2-4) @ PSJA Southwest (1-5)
The Mission Veterans Patriots travel to PSJA Stadium tonight to face the PSJA Southwest Javelinas in a battle to escape the District 16-5A-2 cellar. The Patriots have arguably one of the toughest schedules in Rio Grande Valley. Four teams on their schedule: the San Benito Greyhounds, the Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks, the PSJA Memorial Wolverines, and the Roma Gladiators are a combined 24-0. This week’s opponent should offer some respite as the Javelinas’ only win this year is against the 0-6 Brownsville Porter Cowboys.
The Patriots’ explosive offense is averaging 35 points a game. Senior quarterback Braden Luedeker is averaging almost 400 yards a game with 27 total touchdowns on the season. Senior wide receivers Obed Marin, Vincent Abrego, and Abel Lucio have been the biggest recipients of Luedeker’s dominance. The trio has accounted for 18 receiving touchdowns while averaging over 200 combined receiving yards a game.
The offense is the least of the Patriots’ worries however. The Patriots’ defense has allowed an average of 42 points per contest and has surrendered nearly 200 yards rushing every week. For the Patriots to secure a victory and gain momentum going into a tough three-game stretch vs. Sharyland, PSJA Memorial, and Roma, they must stop the run and get off the field on early downs to rest their defense. Expect the linebacking trio of Aiden Uribe (11th), Chris Garza (11th), and Frank Arrellano (12th) to continue their dominance. If the Patriots’ secondary chips in, they should win comfortably.
PSJA Memorial (6-0) @ Sharyland Rattlers (3-3)
The Sharyland Rattlers will host another undefeated district opponent tonight as they take on the PSJA Memorial Wolverines, the most unlikely of the Valley’s undefeated teams. Last year’s undefeated district title season feels a world away now that three opponents the Rattlers mauled a year ago are among the Valley’s elite. That change and the Rattlers’ offensive drop-off have placed them in a rare position: tied for last place. The Rattlers will face a power run team for the fourth time in six weeks. But unlike the Roma Gladiators tandem backfield, The Wolverines have a stable of running backs led by Emiliano Colunga (11th), Miguel Resendiz (10th), and Ryan Reyna (11th). That experience and a home crowd might be a recipe for success against the Wolverines.
The Rattlers’ defense, led by linebackers Ivan Ramirez (11th) and Santiago Longoria (11th), will need to play their best game of the season if they are without Diego Guerrero(11th) and Tomas Sauceda (12th), both of whom sustained injuries last week against Roma. The offense needs a breakout game. Hovering well below their previous season averages might spell doom for the Rattlers. Let’s assume senior quarterback Bo Krell can connect with athletes like Longoria, Mario Mendoza (11th), and emerging sophomore Bruno Campos on routine and improvisational plays. The Rattlers will perform better than last week and give themselves a chance to win.
Sharyland Pioneer (6-0) @ Roma (6-0)
In a fight for District 16-5A-2 supremacy between undefeated teams, The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks will travel to Roma to face the hometown Gladiators in what will undoubtedly be Friday night’s most competitive matchup. The Diamondbacks travel to Roma with one of the most explosive offenses in Texas, which has only scored under 40 points once this season. The senior quarterback-receiving trio of Julian Alvarez, Leo Espinoza Jr., and Antonio Carrizales have connected for 17 total touchdowns and nearly 1,200 yards so far this season. The Diamondback’s veteran offensive line has dominated the line of scrimmage the entire year, and sophomore running back Dylan Tijerina is the piece that compliments it all.
Not to be outdone, The Roma Gladiators’ massive offensive line has cleared the way for the emergence of arguably the best running back duo the Valley has seen in quite some time, senior Isaac Lozano and junior Ediel Garcia. The Gladiators are averaging over 400 rushing yards a game with 35 total rushing touchdowns on the season. The Diamondback defense, led by junior safeties Andrew Rivera and Angel Villanueva, will have to play in the box to assist a comparatively undersized front seven with sure tackling if The Diamondbacks want to survive tonight. Expect the Diamondbacks’ offense to test the Gladiators’ secondary as they spread the football across the field as a pathway to victory because stopping the Roma run game is irrelevant. All they need to do is score and hope they have the ball last.