Edinburg High and Weslaco East are both riding high into their Week 6 showdown.
Edinburg High is undefeated in 2018, and has seen its explosive offense dominate at 36.25 points per game. The Wildcats are undefeated since returning to Valley competition, and those — albeit only two — wins each were extremely impressive in differing ways.
In Week 4, East knocked off then fifth-ranked Harlingen High by shutting out the Cardinals’ offense. The Wildcats followed that outing by running through Donna North and displaying their depth on offense.
The meeting between East and EHS starts at 7 p.m. Thursday at Richard R. Flores Stadium in Edinburg. The first meeting between them since Oct, 30, 2015 is The Monitor’s Game of the Week.
The Bobcats and Wildcats first met in 2014, and East won 48-14. East won again in 2015, 64-7.
When the teams meet for the third time Thursday, it will be a physical game between two run-first teams with hard-hitting defenses.
This matchup begins with defense, and both defenses have a leader at linebacker position. East’s All-State senior linebacker Freddy Cardenas has 43 tackles on the year, and he has one forced fumble and two blocked kicks. (EDINBURG?) Senior Raymond Quintanilla has 53 tackles in 2018.
On offense, the plan is simple for the Bobcats: get the ball to senior running back Hearlin Benavides. Through four games, the workhorse has logged 559 yards and 8 touchdowns. The most terrifying part for opposing defenses is his yards-per-carry average of 9.3.
The Bobcats have other weapons on offense that will be able to get involved and senior quarterback Matt Cruz tops that list. Cruz has thrown for 325 yards and 8 touchdowns on the year. He’s added another 146 yards and three touchdowns rushing.
Junior Erik Cano is another weapon for the Bobcats, with his 398 rushing yards, 70 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.
East fills up the stat sheet with rushers out of the back field. Sophomore Giovanni Guerra leads the pack with 283 rushing yards. Junior Ramsey Vasquez has also eclipsed the 200-yard mark, checking in with 236 yards.
The starter at tailback, junior Josh Gonzalez, has 144 yards, but has missed time with injury, and should start to turn up as he gets back to bashing Valley defenses.
Junior fullback Randy Cardoza has 132 yards and is also valuable as a blocker for the other backs. Cardoza got his fellow fullback and right-hand man back against Harlingen High in Week 4, as junior Jacob Carrasco returned from injury. The duo are dominant together, as they showed blocking for East’s high-powered offense all of last year.
Senior Andy Delgado burst onto the scene, carrying for 91 yards and 3 touchdowns against Donna North in Week 5. The Wildcats also expect to get production from junior Russell Garza and senior Dimas Alvarez in the rushing attack.
The question in this game will be: which rushing attack can get going and grind down the opposing defense.
Both teams have become synonymous with physicality, and that should show Thursday, as each team will be looking to get a statement win early in the district season. With Edinburg Vela and Weslaco High both playing so well, Edinburg High and Weslaco East have been forgotten about in the title hunt conversation. The reality is there may only be room for one of these two teams in the title chase, and this game will go a long way in determining which team that is.