CORPUS CHRISTI — Sharyland Pioneer put any questions about its toughness to bed Friday night as the Diamondbacks earned a hard-fought 28-21 victory over Pflugerville Weiss to punch their playoff ticket to the third round for the first time in program history.
“We came a long way from where we were six years ago,” Pioneer head coach Tom Lee said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these players and our coaching staff.”
A week after breaking the Rio Grande Valley’s all-time single-season passing touchdown record, junior quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger played with a fire and ran with intensity. The dual-threat quarterback kept the chains moving multiple times with tough running and pinpoint passing.
The Diamondbacks went into the locker room tied at 14 after two first-half touchdown passes by Marburger to receiver Luke Padilla. The senior wideout came through with clutch catches all game long with seven receptions for 76 yards, two scores, and an impressive one-handed grab which Marburger called an ESPN Top 10 Play.
“Ever since we were kids throwing the ball around, it’s just built up to varsity football, and look where we’re at now,” Padilla said about his connection with Marburger. “I’ve known Eddie for a long time, and I know he’s not a quitter. He’ll do everything he can to help his team win.”
Marburger finished with 241 passing yards, 121 rushing yards and four touchdown passes, including two in the second half to Tristan Castillo and Allen Davila.
“It’s indescribable. I just give all the glory to God. I’m just thankful for this team,” Marburger said. “Every individual plays their part. This team is unbelievable.”
After Pflugerville Weiss trimmed the lead to 28-21 late in the fourth quarter, the Diamondbacks had to kill clock. Marburger and his biggest target Lavar Lindo were inches away from hooking up for big plays throughout the night, but it didn’t happen. That was until the fourth quarter when faced with a third-and-8, Marburger looked his receiver’s way and threw a pass where only Lindo could get it. The 6-foot-4-inch receiver laid out for the ball and secured it in his grasp for a Pioneer first down that led to the victory.
“I told him just keep your head up,” Marburger said about Lindo. “We’re not connecting right now, but sooner or later, we’re going to win this game.”
And while the Pioneer offense has been the driving force for the Diamondbacks’ 11-1 record on the year, it was their defense that took its game to another level against Pflugerville Weiss.
“It just shows the fight that we have in us,” Marburger said about the win. “We may not have played our best (offensively), but the fight at the end was unbelievable. The defense stepped up and put the team on their back. Those guys get all the credit.”
Defensive ends Trey Guerra and Matthew Solis never let Weiss’ quarterback get comfortable by bringing pressure around the edges, blowing up screens and battling through double teams.
“Today, 1 out of 10, I would give us a solid 10,” Solis said about the Diamondbacks’ defensive performance. “We came together as 11 brothers and did what we had to do tonight. We stuck to our game plan and executed.”
“There’s a bunch of bad talk about our defense and how we can’t stop anything. We just wanted to shut up everybody,” Guerra said. “Our team just came together. We were flying to the ball and working as a unit. If everybody does their job, everything’s going to be fine.”
And the Diamondbacks were more than fine once the clock hit all zeroes.
“It’s awesome. We get to practice during Thanksgiving break. I’ve never been this far, it’s just a great experience, and hopefully we can go to Round 4,” Guerra said.
The Diamondbacks will now face Boerne-Champion in the regional semifinals. The time, date and place are to be determined Saturday afternoon.
“As long as I’m with my team, I feel like we can do anything. The sky’s the limit,” Padilla said.