MERCEDES — Sophomore running back Tyrell Trevino had his finish line in sight when he lined up next to Mercedes junior quarterback Michael Cisneros in the backfield.
Trevino took a handoff out of the shotgun and cut left past Cisneros to the near sideline, where he evaded a few would-be tacklers before diving for the corner of the end zone and extending the ball toward the pylon.
Trevino’s diving effort gave Mercedes its first score of the night on an 18-yard scamper that gave the Tigers their first offensive score of the night and put them on top 17-0 after a long drive and longer layoff due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Trevino and the Tigers made the most of their opportunities in the team’s return to the bright lights of Friday night, running wild on the ground and playing light out defense to earn Mercedes a 33-13 season-opening, non-district win over the PSJA North Raiders in The Monitor’s Game of the Week at Tiger Stadium.
“It was an awesome feeling, I really can’t describe it. I’m really excited for these guys,” Mercedes head football coach Roger Adame said of his team’s season-opening win. “It’s something they’ve looked forward to, especially after the roller-coaster ride they had this summer and us coaches as well. I told the guys that just by getting on the field is a victory in itself, and then to go out there and perform like that, it’s exciting.”
“It feels great to be back on the field. As the game progressed, we started learning and figuring out positions because we have a bunch of young kids,” PSJA North head coach Marcus Kaufmann said. “We figured out who’s going to step up and who’s not, and we figured out how to move some stuff around, so I think we learned a lot from tonight which is a positive. We’re going to be fine.”
On a soggy Friday night when passing seemed out of the question, Trevino, a sophomore making his first varsity start, burst onto the scene in his first game action of the year and quickly asserted himself as one of the Rio Grande Valley’s early breakout stars in 2020.
The sophomore running back led the Tigers with 93 of the team’s 237 total rushing yards on 10 carries and added the one score on the ground. Overall, he helped Mercedes outgain PSJA North 320-198 in overall yardage on the night.
“Tyrell is a special athlete. We knew he could do some things for us if we put him in the right position,” Adame said. He’s a hard worker and competitor. We felt that if we could get the ball in his hands and get some blocking in front of him that he could do some things for us.”
Trevino’s score helped give Mercedes a 17-0 edge after a 37-yard field goal by Diego Hernandez and a muffed punt fumble recovered in the end zone for a special teams score by sophomore defensive back Allan Gonzalez.
Gonzalez’s score was one of two big defensive takeaways for the Tigers on the night, who wrested away another fumble along the sideline at the end of a first-down run by the Raiders.
Mercedes’ defense was also able to contain PSJA North junior running back Isaac Gonzalez, who still torched the Tigers to the tune of 117 rushing yards and a touchdown on 22 carries but was sealed off from outside running lanes and unable to break off many long runs.
“Hats off to our defense,” Isaac (Gonzalez) is a great running back at PSJA North and Coach (Marcus) Kaufmann does a great job with their offensive scheme, so I’m proud of my boys. They knew we were going to have to match them physically and they stepped up to the plate.”
Gonzalez stopped the bleeding for the Raiders, finding the end zone for the first time midway through the fourth quarter on a 12-yard touchdown run. He contributed for most of PSJA North’s offensive production and made it a 33-6 game for Mercedes until freshman quarterback Sergio Aparicio hit receiver Jack Lugo streaking down the sideline for an 83-yard touchdown bomb over the top of the defense.
“Offensively, we’re trying to figure out an identity. Some kids stepped up as the game progressed and we found out who we can trust and who’s going to make a play,” Kaufmann said. “We took some offensive guys to defense and some defensive guys to offense as the game was going on, so it ended up being a great learning experience.”
PSJA North cycled through quarterbacks through much of the contest, alternating between Aparicio and junior Zach Gonzalez, who earned the start, before siding with Aparicio once the game appeared to be out of reach.
The duo combined to complete four of 16 combined passes for 109 yards.
But it was Mercedes’ explosive offense that put the game away for good.
Junior quarterback Michael Cisneros flashed his dual-threat ability and tossed two second-half touchdowns, finding senior wideout Josiah Cantu in the back left corner of the end zone and threading a bullet of a pass to junior wideout Miguel Jimenez for a 29-yard score.
Cisneros tallied 83 yards passing and 40 yards rushing while completing 50% of his passes and scoring twice through the air. Cantu added another 65 total yards on nine touches in addition to his score.
“We were kind of trying to gauge our team and we feel pretty good about it. One of the main things was going to be our conditioning and those guys came in in great shape,” Adame said. “Offensively, we had a little bit of rust, but we hit the ground running. I felt good about our defense and offense, especially with this being our first game after no scrimmages. We’ll go to the film and get some things cleaned up, and if we can do that, we feel we can do something special.”