MISSION — When those closest to Eddie Lee Marburger are asked about Sharyland Pioneer’s junior quarterback, three words are frequently found in their answers — leader, warrior, brother.

Marburger, the Diamondbacks’ field-general, wrapped up a 2019 campaign for the record books as he led the Pioneer football program to a district championship, its first two playoff wins in school history, and finished as the Rio Grande Valley’s single-season leader in touchdown passes with 58. In the process, the junior displayed leadership, battled through adversity, and most importantly to him, did it alongside teammates he calls brothers.

That’s why Marburger is The Monitor’s 2019 All-Area Football Player of the Year.

“I’m very blessed. I’m just thankful for God putting me in the situations that he did, and I’m very blessed,” Marburger said.

From waking up at 6 a.m. to run hills to staying late after practice to get in extra repetitions with his receiving corps, Marburger put in the work which resulted in a season with 4,505 passing yards, 58 touchdown throws, 1,009 rushing yards and 17 touchdown runs.

He was recently named to the Associated Press Sports Editors’ Class 5A All-State First Team.

“I don’t deserve all the credit. I get way more credit than I deserve,” Marburger said. “My O-line, those guys deserve all the credit. My receivers, my receiving corps this year was probably the best in the Valley, maybe of all-time. Those guys are phenomenal. I don’t see it fair that I get all this recognition and stuff when all those guys deserve it way more than me. They work equally as hard as me and I feel like they deserve the credit.”

Those teammates looked to their leader when they needed him most. And each time, Marburger was there to answer the call.

Sharyland Pioneer quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger (12) passes the ball against Boerne-Champion in a 5A DII Regional semi-final game at the Alamodome on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in San Antonio. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

He spearheaded the RGV’s top offensive attack as the Diamondbacks compiled a 9-1 regular season record on the way to a 16-5A DII championship.

Then, in the first round of the playoffs, Marburger’s Diamondbacks defeated San Antonio Southside 59-14. It was Pioneer’s first postseason win in four tries.

“Once playoff mode kicked in, I’ve never seen guys so focused before. Everyone was so focused, everyone played perfect, it was a pretty impressive game,” he said. “Everyone just locked in and we took it to them.”

During the game against Southside, he threw his 51st touchdown pass of the season which broke the record held by former Mission Veterans quarterback Landry Gilpin and former Mission High quarterback Lupe Rodriguez.

In round two, Pioneer traveled to Corpus Christi for a clash against Pflugerville Weiss. The Diamondbacks pulled out a 28-21 win for their 11th consecutive victory of the season.

That set up a round three matchup against Boerne-Champion in San Antonio’s Alamodome.

One year before Marburger led the Diamondbacks onto the Alamodome field for battle, the quarterback was in the stands as a spectator watching a Mission Veterans team led by Gilpin play on that same turf in the third round of the 2018 playoffs. The Patriots went on to beat Corpus Christi Veterans 62-55 and advance to the fourth round.

“It definitely gave confidence to our team, just seeing another Valley team go up there and win,” Marburger said.

Now, it was Marburger and Pioneer’s turn to represent for the RGV.

Sharyland Pioneer quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger (12) carries the ball against Boerne-Champion in a 5A DII Regional semi-final game at the Alamodome on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in San Antonio. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

The junior quarterback’s pinpoint precision passing was on display against the Chargers as Pioneer stormed back from a 15-point deficit to knot the game up at 38-38. Marburger trusted his playmakers to make plays as they had all year. Guys like Luke Padilla, Lavar Lindo, Allen Davila, Evan Maldonado and Tristan Castillo all stepped up when Marburger looked their way.

“At first, we were kind of shell-shocked, we weren’t all into the game at first,” Marburger admitted. “Finally we realized that we could win this game, it just kicked in. We had all the momentum going, and then things happened.”

Pioneer had a chance to win the game late, but an interception inside the Boerne-Champion 10-yard line crushed those hopes. Then in overtime, the Chargers scored first, but Pioneer’s possession was stopped 1 yard short on a 4th-and-1 Marburger run, which ended the game.

After the play, Marburger remained down on the Alamodome field, the result of battling through a left shoulder injury suffered late in the third quarter.

The diagnosis? A second-degree AC (acromioclavicular) sprain, which involves a complete rupture of the AC ligament and partial tear of the coracoclavicular ligament in his left shoulder.

“The injury happened late in the third quarter, but I couldn’t come out. I had to be there with my brothers. There was really nothing that could take me out of the game,” Marburger said.

His teammates had to peel their quarterback off the turf after plays on multiple occasions.

“They’re all just telling me to get up, it was a pretty cool moment. I couldn’t get up, to be honest with you, I could not get up. I had to hold my left hand down and I’d say ‘pick me up with my right hand’, and that’s how it would work,” he said. “I just wanted to win so bad. It’s funny because everytime I would get up, the ref would ask me ‘Are you Ok?’ and I’d just say ‘yes, I’m good, I’m good.’”

But his left arm was no use. Marburger even needed assistance getting his helmet back on his head before taking the field for another offensive possession during the game. Even then, Marburger refused to quit as he finished with 596 passing yards and five total touchdowns under the bright lights of the Alamodome, albeit in a 45-38 overtime loss.

Sharyland Pioneer Luke Padilla (14) comforts teammate Eddie Lee Marburger (12) as he walks injured off the field after being defeated by Boerne-Champion in a 5A DII Regional semi-final game at the Alamodome on Saturday, Nov. 30, 2019, in San Antonio. (Joel Martinez | jmartinez@themonitor.com)

After the game, Marburger was taken to the emergency room to have his shoulder examined.

“There was a lot of emotions — I was just crying,” Marburger said. “I felt like we let an opportunity slip away. I felt like we had that game; I felt like I lost us the game. It was hard. But coach (Eddie) Galindo, the offensive coordinator, came by and gave me a lot of confidence, he just helped me out a lot. My mom and dad were there supporting me, there was just a lot of emotions.”

Those emotions got the best of Marburger after the loss, and while it still stings today, he enjoyed every step of the process alongside his teammates.

“Every day was so much fun. That first Monday without practice, that killed me. It was like ‘I miss these guys.’ I would actually look forward to going to school to have fun with my bros, but now, man, I miss it,” Marburger said. “I’m still just reminiscing on the playoff game, it just hurts a lot, but when I sit back to kind of look at, it’s pretty cool to experience it with my brothers.”

bramos@themonitor.com