Rivals Weslaco High and Weslaco East enter each season on a collision course, but when the two unbeaten teams in District 31-6A square off Friday night at Bobby Lackey Stadium, they won’t just be battling for bragging rights — they’ll be playing for a district championship.

The Panthers (7-1, 4-0) and Wildcats (5-3, 4-0) are tied atop the 31-6A standings and have been two of the hottest teams in the Rio Grande Valley as of late. Weslaco High has won seven consecutive games since dropping its season opener, while Weslaco East has ripped off four straight wins in district play. One of those winning streaks will come to an end Friday night.

Last year’s Tinaco Bowl went down to the wire as the Panthers edged the Wildcats 23-21 by nailing a 22-yard field goal with under a minute left in the ball game. The Panthers’ win broke the series tie and gave Weslaco High a 4-3 all-time lead in Tinaco Bowl history with Weslaco East.

Coming into the 8th edition of The Tinaco Bowl, the focus will be on Weslaco East’s stingy defense going up against Weslaco High’s high-powered offense.

The Wildcats are giving up a league-low 225.4 yards per game on the year and have surrendered only nine points in four district games.

On the other side, the Panthers are the top offensive unit in 31-6A with 396.7 yards per game and 251 points scored this season.

Weslaco High’s Jacob Cavazos is completing 67.5 percent of his passes for 1,389 yards and 15 touchdowns to just three interceptions. The senior quarterback leads the Panthers in rushing with 763 yards and 14 touchdown runs. Running back Peyton Knaub has also been huge for Weslaco’s offense with 694 ground yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.

But the Wildcats have been buzzing offensively, as well, led by the non-stop ground game of quarterback Ramsey Vasquez and running back Russel Garza. Vasquez has thrown for 255 yards and four touchdowns, while running for 752 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Sharing the backfield with Vasquez is Garza, who leads the Wildcats with 791 rushing yards and nine touchdowns runs on 97 carries.

The winner of this matchup will put themselves in a prime position to capture the 31-6A crown as the victor improves to 5-0 in district play with one game to go.

Kickoff of the 8th Tinaco Bowl between the Panthers and Wildcats is set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco.