EDINBURG — Class of 2020 Edinburg High graduates Adrian Garza and Aaron Alfaro began playing football together in the sixth grade, and it didn’t take long for the pair of future Bobcats to become best friends.

“We’ve always done everything together from football games to basketball tournaments and track meets, so Aaron has been a part of my life for a long time,” Garza said.

After playing alongside each other for the past seven years, the two will remain teammates at the next level as both recently signed to play football at Southwestern University in Georgetown, an NCAA Division III school which competes in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference.

“We both knew that we loved Southwestern right from the beginning, so once we both knew that we got our offers, we knew that this was going to be something great. We can keep playing together just like we always have, we don’t have to do anything different, and we just go up there and we can ball out together and represent our city,” Garza said.

“My time at Edinburg High has been unforgettable,” Alfaro said on his signing day. “I’d like to thank my mom and dad for their sacrifices and allowing me to live out my dream. I’d like to thank Adrian’s family. We’re not blood family, but they’re my God parents, so we’re family through Christ. I thank them for treating me like a son. I’d like to thank coach (J.J.) Leija, it’s been a privilege to be a part of his program for three years. He’s trusted me and he’s taught me things that are bigger than football and it’s more than just a game. He cared for me on and off the field. He’s been another father figure to me and I appreciate him for that. “

The pair quickly developed into an all-district quality duo for the Bobcats on opposite sides of the ball.

“There is no better feeling than hard work paying off. Collegiate football is a dream come true for the both of us,” Alfaro said. “All the countless hours put in at practice, training, in the classroom, and behind the scenes have prepared us to be successful. I’m glad to have Adrian by my side, I consider him family. It is always better to have a friend who is there for you, especially when you move away for college. I know we will help each other overcome any obstacles we face.”

Garza established himself as one of the Bobcats’ top offensive weapons as a versatile receiver and part-time quarterback over his three years of varsity ball.

Creating separation is Garza’s specialty, as his crisp route-running allowed him to come up with clutch catches in big games for Edinburg High time and time again.

“What makes Adrian a great football player is his speed, route-running and footwork. Adrian’s speed and footwork combination make him extremely hard to guard, he’s so quick you can’t put your hands on him. … Speed kills,” Alfaro said of Garza.

Alfaro grew into a feared force in the Bobcats secondary from his free safety spot, with his size, athleticism and mental game helping Alfaro become a dominant defender for Edinburg High.

“His football IQ in general is off the charts; he can read everything. He’s taught me a lot about the game, even through Madden when we play, he’s teaching me stuff because he whoops my butt, I’ll give him that,” Garza said through a laugh about Alfaro’s defensive prowess. “His football IQ is phenomenal and the way he can move with his size, he plays aggressive — he’s the prototypical player that any coach wants in his defense.”

Alfaro and Garza join a Southwestern Pirates football program that has created a pipeline from Georgetown to the Rio Grande Valley over the last couple years.

Currently on the Southwestern roster are Mission Veterans alums Landry Gilpin and Jazz Vallejo, while the Pirates 2020 recruiting class also features Brownsville Pace’s Jaylun Garcia, Edinburg Vela’s Mathew Brulloths, McAllen Memorial’s Joseph Lara and Valley View’s Aleksander and Damian Gomez.

“We’ve always talked about it, playing at the next level. We didn’t know if we were always going to be able to go play together, but being able to make that happen just proves that hard work always pays off and God has a plan for everybody, and his plan for us is to go play college football together,” Garza said. “I’m looking forward to just getting up there and proving what I can do. Just representing Edinburg and the Valley as a whole. It’s great to see how many Valley guys are coming with us, it’s going to be a great experience and I just can’t wait to get up there with everybody.”

bramos@themonitor.com