Six of the leaders behind some of the Valley’s most successful teams are up for Boys Coach of the Year and Girls Coach of the Year.
The winners will be announced at the 2017 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet on Saturday at Mario’s Banquet & Conference Center in Mission.
Former San Antonio Spurs forward Robert Horry will be the keynote speaker at the event, which is being put on with help from presenting sponsor Lone Star National Bank.
The nominees for Boys Coach of the Year:
>> Johnny Cipriano, Santa Rosa basketball: The longtime Warriors basketball coach led his 2016-17 team to an undefeated District 32-3A record, a 13th straight district title and a trip to the Class 3A state semifinals.
>> Amadeo Escandon, Brownsville Lopez soccer: Escandon guided the Lobos to the UIL state tournament for a Valley-record fifth time. The Lobos (17-5-4) finished third in District 32-5A before coming alive and winning five games in the state playoffs to make a state tournament appearance. Escandon has been the coach during each of Lopez’s five trips to state, which included a state championship in 2004 and a state runner-up finish in 2009.
>> Margarito Jimenez, Progreso soccer: Jimenez led the Red Ants back to the state tournament for the second consecutive season. Coaching the program since its inception in 1998, Jimenez has shown an ability to switch up formations and integrate new pieces in a pinch.
The nominees for Girls Coach of the Year:
>> Rayner Cardenas, Brownsville Veterans softball: Under Cardenas, the Lady Chargers compiled a 23-6 record and were 14-0 in district play to become the District 32-5A champions. The team won 10 of 14 district games via shutout and allowed just four runs during those 14 games.
>> Mario Rodriguez, Weslaco High softball: Rodriguez led the Lady Panthers to a 23-3 regular season and sole possession of the District 32-6A title (13-1 league record). In a bid to reach the state tournament for the second consecutive year, the team advanced past PSJA Memorial, San Antonio Southwest and Edinburg High before losing to New Braunfels Canyon in the regional semifinals.
>> Peter A Rodriguez, Brownsville Rivera soccer: In his first year as Brownsville Rivera’s girls soccer coach, Rodriguez pulled off the improbable. He took a team that finished 0-14 in District 32-6A just one year earlier and guided the Lady Raiders to the third round of the Class 6A state playoffs for the first time in the school’s history. The Lady Raiders, who tied for third in 32-6A with a 9-5 record, finished the season with an 11-10-2 overall mark following a 2-0 loss to Los Fresnos in the third round of the playoffs.
The Banquet, hosted by RGVSports.com and AIM Media Texas in conjunction with the RGV Sports Hall of Fame, will see 33 awards presented to standout athletes, coaches and teams across all 12 UIL sports. The highly prestigious Tom Landry Award of Excellence will honor a student-athlete for outstanding achievements on and off the field.
The Monitor, Valley Morning Star, The Brownsville Herald, Mid-Valley Town Crier and RGV Sports Hall of Fame will vote to determine the winners in the sports categories. While The Monitor, the Star and the Herald have previously named their All-Area teams in certain sports, the All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet will recognize the very best across all three coverage areas.
Tickets for the catered banquet, which will run 6 to 8 p.m., are available through each newspaper’s website at a cost of $40 per person. Sponsorship opportunities are still available. For more information, contact Marcia Kitten at 956-683-4463.
Horry won seven NBA Championships and earned the moniker “Big Shot Rob” for clutch performances during his 16-year NBA career that included stints with the Spurs, Houston Rockets, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers.
Lone Star National Bank, first opened in Pharr in 1983, has grown to include more than 600 employees at 33 locations across South Texas. As part of its mission statement, Lone Star National Bank is committed to “helping our communities grow, and serving them with pride and integrity,” according to the bank’s website.
“Lone Star National Bank has a history of being a great community steward,” The Monitor Publisher Stephan Wingert said. “We are pleased to announce that Lone Star National Bank will be the presenting sponsor for the 2017 All-Valley Sports Awards Banquet. Thanks to their support, we will be able to celebrate the Valley’s best and brightest student-athletes.”