MISSION — After Sharyland High’s Week 7 win versus Edcouch-Elsa, coach Ron Adame met with senior quarterbacks Oscar Valdez and Edgar Longoria. Adame told his seniors that he would start Valdez this week against district rival Sharyland Pioneer.
Adame’s decision didn’t change much for Valdez and Longoria. The two had been used interchangeably through various stretches of the season. Valdez earned the start, but he suffered an injury in the first quarter. Valdez, who also serves as the team’s punter and kicker, was sidelined for the remainder of the game.
Longoria stepped in and kept the offense moving throughout the night. Wide receiver Gabriel Tamez made all five extra points and his only field goal attempt in the fourth quarter, but it was a big one. Tamez nailed a 21-yard kick as time expired to give the Rattlers a dramatic 38-37 victory over the Diamondbacks.
“I’d only kicked once or twice during practice just for fun,” Tamez said. “This week we thought it’d be a close game, so I started going out with the kickers to get some extra reps. It turned out to be very effective.”
“We started working Gabriel (Tamez) in this week,” Adame said. “The young man is a soccer player, so he’s kicked a ball his whole life, but not to the extent of what we had him do this week. Lo and behold, we had to rely on him to kick the game-winning field goal. In hindsight, I’m sure glad we did that.”
The Rattlers and Diamondbacks were tied at the end of the first and second quarters, but Sharyland High owned a four-point lead entering the fourth.
Last year’s Snakeskin Classic was also a nail-biter in favor of Sharyland High. Longoria ran wild against the Diamondback defense on Friday like he did a season ago. As a junior in 2017, Longoria ran for six touchdowns vs. Pioneer. His last score came with nine seconds left in Sharyland High’s 56-49 win.
In his last Snakeskin Classic, Longoria ran for 155 yards and punched in four touchdown runs. The Rattlers (5-3, 4-0) ran for 337 yards as a team.
“It’s not just me. It all starts with the offensive line,” Longoria said. “All those touchdowns I ran and threw, you have credit them because they are the ones that block and do the hard work. I was able to make plays and make them feel good about what they do. They were a major part of us scoring and winning this game.”
Adame said Valdez suffered a leg contusion that didn’t allow him to plant his foot with confidence, but the extent of the injury isn’t yet known.
“Oscar and I have always got along well. I know that I have his back and he’s got mine,” Longoria said. “It was unfortunate for him to go down in the first quarter, but I told him that I was going to play for him. I was ready for this type of moment and we got the outcome that we wanted. At the end of the game, I pointed at him (Valdez) and told him that I loved him. We’re brothers and we have each other’s backs.”
Sharyland Pioneer (4-3, 2-1) took a lead early in the fourth quarter on a one-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Rosales to Diego Benavides. Facing a 35-31 deficit at the Pioneer 21-yard line with 1:30 left, Rosales rolled around the pocket looking for a receiver before flicking a pass deep to a wide open Roel Cajero. Cajero took it to the house, a 79-yard pass play.
Pioneer committed a 15-yard penalty that was enforced after ensuing kickoff. The Rattlers started their drive from their own 40-yard line instead of the 25-yard line.
Sharyland High relied on its seniors — Longoria, running back Adrian Solis and wide receiver Ruben Davila — to get them to the four-yard line with two seconds left where Tamez, another senior, delivered the knockout punch.
“We had young men who were calling for the ball, telling me, ‘Coach, give me the ball,’” Adame said. “We had Adrian Solis, Edgar Longoria, Hector Zavala, Gabriel Tamez and Ruben (Davila) who all told me the same thing. ‘Give me the ball.’ That’s a good feeling to have young men who aren’t going to shy away when the game is on the line. Those are the type of players that you want. I love each and every one of them.”
Sharyland High now has an inside track to a district title with two games to go. Sharyland Pioneer defeated Valley View in Week 7, who started the season 6-0, but the Tigers have now dropped their last two games in district play.
“Our kids fought all the way,” Sharyland Pioneer coach Tommy Lee said. “We made plays on defense, too, but we couldn’t make plays when we needed to. That’s part of football and we’re still growing. It was just another classic game here.”