Wildcats, SaberCats ready for Game of the Week

By RAUL GARCIA

Weslaco East hosts Edinburg Vela with the District 31-6A crown is up for grabs.

The Wildcats (6-3, 5-0) and SaberCats (7-2, 4-1) are two of the top teams in the Rio Grande Valley and are set to square off at 7:30 p.m. Friday in The Monitor’s Game of the Week at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco.

A win for the Wildcats would make them the outright district champions.

A win for the SaberCats would split the district title three ways — between the SaberCats, Wildcats and Panthers — with each team carrying 4-1 district records.

“We’re looking to win and get the No. 1 seed going into the playoffs,” Weslaco East linebacker Irwin Morin said. “We know they have playmakers, but we do too.”

A win for the Wildcats would be their first district championship since moving up to Class 6A from 5A in 2018. Their last successful district title campaign came in 2012.

The SaberCats have a tradition for winning district titles, while not losing to a Valley school since November 2016, until this season.

“They are going to come after us on both sides of the ball,” Edinburg Vela linebacker Eddie Salinas said. “We are thinking about playing tougher football than we have in the past.”

The Wildcats lean on their ground game. Their senior quarterback, Ramsey Vasquez, is averaging 7.6 yards per carry, while compiling 917 yards on the ground and 10 rushing touchdowns.

SaberCats senior quarterback AJ Sotelo has completed 64% of his throws for 2,132 yards, 24 passing touchdowns and five picks going into the last game of the regular season, while the SaberCats offense has averaged 37.4 points per game. The Wildcats know that slowing down Vela’s passing attack will be the key defensively.

The Wildcats’ stingy defense has shutout three of their opponents, and has only allowed 23 points in their last five games.

Coming into the contest, the SaberCats have only allowed three points and are coming into Friday’s game having posted a 56-0 win over Edinburg High.

A 46-yard field goal kick late in the fourth quarter by the Wildcats lifted them over the Weslaco High Panthers to become the reaming unbeaten team in district. Their win stretched the Wildcats’ winning streak to five games after snapping a three-game skid heading into district.

This will be the two team’s third meeting ever. Their first meeting was in 2016, when they played in the first round of the playoffs and the Wildcats prevailed.

Last year, the teams meet for the second time, marking the first matchup as district foes after the 2018 UIL realignment order grouped the Edinburg teams, Weslaco teams and Donna North into District 31-6A. The SaberCats shut out the Wildcats in that contest 21-0 and went on to complete district undefeated.

rgarcia@themonitor.com