Patriots and Diamondbacks advance
The second round of the UIL state football playoffs starts tonight for our Big 7 Sports teams. The Mission Veterans Patriots and the Pioneer Diamondbacks are the two teams that remain in the hunt out of our seven. Tonight, these two teams play to keep their seasons alive while working towards a possible state championship.
The Patriots (4-1) are meeting up with the Pieper Warriors (6-0) at Shirley Field in Laredo. The Warriors came off a 2022 season that saw them miss the playoffs with a 2-3 record. They turned it around this season with a stellar season from senior quarterback Jake South. South has thrown for 3,247 yards and 37 touchdowns on the season. The Warriors are also willing to run the ball, with a little over 1,200 rushing yards, but they have been passing the ball heavily all season. They are coming off a dominating 33-0 win over the Sam Houston Hurricanes. The Patriots will have their work cut out for them tonight, but so will the Warriors.
The Patriots are coming off a 43–6 blowout win against the Valley View Tigers. In this game, senior quarterback Braden Luedeker passed for 241 yards and rushed for 118 yards in his five touchdown performance. On the season, Luedeker has accumulated 3,228 passing and 1,245 rushing yards to go along with his 36 passing and 14 rushing touchdowns. His favorite targets? Seniors Abel Lucio and Obed Marin, who have received for 835 yards and 12 touchdowns, and 984 yards and eight touchdowns respectively. Junior linebacker Aiden Uribe has played a massive role in the success of the Patriots defense. The Patriots will need all they can get from his 150 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and three sack season. The winner of this game will not only earn an Area round championship but they will go on to play the winner between the Alamo Heights Mules and the Gregory-Portland Wildcats in a regional playoff matchup.
The Diamondbacks (4-1) are meeting up with the Liberty Hills Panthers (4-2) at Dub Farris Stadium in San Antonio. The Panthers came off a 2022 season that saw them make it to the fourth round of the playoffs. The Panthers trio of junior running backs helped put up 7,141 rushing yards on offense that season. The Warriors have stayed true to the run and one year later senior running backs Noah Long, Ben Carter, and now senior quarterback Joe Pitchford have accumulated 3,231 of the Panthers total 4,569 rushing yards on the season. This team will be looking to run the ball down the throats of the Diamondbacks, but the Panthers are going to have to do some homework on our Diamondbacks.
The Diamondbacks are coming off a monster 48-29 win over the Edcouch-Elsa Yellowjackets. The Diamondbacks did their work on the ground in that game. Sophomore running back Dylan Tijerina rushed for 220 yards and two touchdowns while senior quarterback Julian Valdez rushed for 152 yards and four touchdowns. Tijerina has rushed for 1,269 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season while Valdez has passed for 2,428 yards and 15 touchdowns on the season.
Defensively, junior linebacker Marcos Rauda has been the main man in the middle for the Diamondbacks with nearly 100 total tackles and four sacks. The winner of this game will go on to play the winner between the Flour Bluff Hornets and the San Antonio Veterans Memorial Patriots in a regional playoff matchup.
Two wins tonight would be massive for our boys and we hope that they are able to achieve that. Big 7 Sports wishes the Patriots and the Diamondbacks the safest of travels and the best of luck on their journey to the next round of the playoffs.