Mission Veterans quarterback Landry Gilpin is The Monitor’s All-Area Player of the Year.
EDINBURG — In 2016, the Mission Veterans Patriots threw the ball a lot, scored a lot and reached the third round of the UIL Class 5A playoffs for the first time in school history.
The effects of making history are more than applause or pats on the back. Making history meant other schools — and school districts — would look at Mission Veterans’ winning model and try to replicate it the best they can.
In addition to the Patriots losing important offensive pieces to graduation, offensive coordinator Lupe Rodriguez left Mission Veterans to build his own staff and program at PSJA High.
Despite the roster and coaching turnover, one of Mission Vets’ biggest keys to success remained in Patriots blue: junior Landry Gilpin.
After a season during which he threw for 3,172 yards and 25 touchdowns to only five interceptions while also running for 1,718 yards and 23 more touchdowns, Gilpin was the easy choice as The Monitor’s All-Area Player of the Year.
“I know it took a lot to get here from my teammates and my coaches,” Gilpin said. “We had a great season, and I know winning this award wouldn’t be possible without mentioning the contributions from pieces on our team.”
Gilpin was installed as the Patriots’ starting quarterback in the spring after spending his sophomore season as a wide receiver catching passes from The Monitor’s 2016 All-Area Player of the Year, Diego Hernandez. But the 2017 season wasn’t Gilpin’s first time as a starting quarterback.
Mission Veterans coach David Gilpin threw his son, Landry, into the fire as a true freshman. Landry posted modest numbers as a passer (1,589 yards, 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions) but demonstrated uncommon mobility out of the pocket early in his career (895 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns).
However, 2017 was something else.
“Once we ended our season at Alamo Stadium (in San Antonio) in 2016, I said to him, ‘No. 12, it’s your ball,’” David Gilpin said. “I thought our offense was going to be pretty good with Landry, but did I have a number in mind? No. Did I know he was going to combine for almost 5,000 total yards and almost 50 touchdowns? I didn’t.
“While he does it in a different style than Diego did, he was able to put big yardage and touchdown numbers that led us to a 10-2 record, a district and bi-district championship. As a head coach, coaching him is a dream. As a father, I couldn’t be more proud of my son, because he does things the right way.”
After non-district tests against Harlingen High and Mission High, the switch turned on for Landry Gilpin in district play. He threw 21 touchdown passes in eight district games, even though he went without a touchdown throw in one of those outings. He also threw for 300 or more yards in five of 12 games in 2017.
“We had a completely different set of receivers this year,” Landry Gilpin said. “We knew we’d have a really strong offensive line, but some of the receivers were guys that were brand new starters after being backups a year ago. Progressing through the season, I got to see their tendencies. I picked up on what they like to do, where they like the ball, how they run their routes and who’s going to be open on what play. Watching film with our coaches helped us progress into the season that we had.”
Landry Gilpin loved it when opponents keyed in on him as the focal point of the Patriots offense.
“It’s my favorite defensive scheme,” Landry Gilpin said. “We have so many weapons on the field that if their main focus was on stopping me, I could do a dump off pass to Mikey (Garcia), a deep throw to John (Aguilar) or hand the ball off to a running back. When the defense focuses on one player, it opens everything else for us, and we had a lot of success with that.”
One of the weapons Gilpin has the luxury of throwing to is sophomore wide receiver Garcia, who is The Monitor’s 2017 All-Area Newcomer of the Year. The Gilpin and Garcia connection dates back to their days as teammates at the Boys and Girls Club in Mission.
Gilpin remembers those times fondly.
“We smashed people,” Landry Gilpin said. “We were a hard duo to stop back then. We’d wake up every Saturday morning at about 8 o’clock hoping to get out there and show what we had.”
“It was fun back then,” David Gilpin said. “At that time, I didn’t know we’d have the same connection the way we have them now in high school. The big thing for us is both of them are coming back. To have them honored as some of the elite players in the Valley, it worked out really well for us.”