EDINBURG — During a week highlighted by several marquee rivalry game matchups throughout District 31-6A, one, in particular, stands out Thursday night.
The Edinburg High Bobcats and Edinburg North Cougars will renew their crosstown rivalry matchup with a lot at stake for two teams on the fringe of the Class 6A playoff picture.
Edinburg High got off to a rocky start but rolled to an impressive win over rival Edinburg Economedes to correct course before taking a bye last week. The Bobcats got a huge performance on the ground from senior running back Shandon Woodard against Econ, a trend they’re confident will continue as the season progresses.
“We’re hoping we can rely on that experience. … (Woodard) is moving well and he looks good out there. He’s having fun,” Edinburg High head football coach J.J. Lejia said of Woodard and senior defensive end Emmanuel Duron, one of the RGV’s sack leaders through the early part of the season. “We’re (also) hoping Manny (Duron) can lead this team where it belongs. We’ve got a lot of young kids vying for spots and we’re hoping he can help lead us there (defensively).”
Edinburg North, meanwhile, blew out the Jags in its most recent game action last week. It was the Cougars’ first runaway win of the season after neck-and-neck 31-6A games against PSJA High and PSJA North were decided on the final possession of the game.
“There’s no doubt we’ve got experience and some veteran ball players this year,” said Edinburg North head coach Damian Gonzalez, whose defense returns nine starters from 2019. “We’re going to rely on our defense and I think we have the makings of a very good offense.”
On top of pitting two of the district’s top running backs against one another in Woodard and Cougars’ junior Jean Carlo Reyes, this intra-city rivalry game should go a long way in sorting out a crowded District 31-6A postseason race. A win for Edinburg North would place the team squarely within the district title hunt, while a victory for Edinburg High would put the squad above .500 on the season and in a prime position for a playoff berth.
“We’re excited here at Edinburg North. It’s been a while since we’ve had a team like this,” Gonzalez said. “We have the tools to be a pretty darn good football team.”
The Bobcats (1-1, 1-1) and Cougars (2-1, 2-1) will square off at 7 p.m. Thursday at Richard R. Flores Stadium in Edinburg.
VELA TO TAKE ON ECON IN FIRST GAME SINCE QUARANTINE
Edinburg Vela and Edinburg Economedes will face off in the second of two crosstown rivalry games within Edinburg CISD this week.
The game should carry extra significance as well as it marks the SaberCats’ first game back from a program-wide quarantine after multiple positive COVID-19 tests forced the team to halt football activities for two weeks.
The SaberCats, the No. 1 ranked team in the latest RGVSports.com Top 10 Poll, should be fired up to prove why they’re the Valley’s top-ranked team on the gridiron to this point.
Despite only playing one game so far this season, Vela dominated a talented Mission Veterans squad in The Monitor’s Game of the Week, holding the Patriots to two rushing yards on the night.
That presents an uphill battle for the Economedes Jags, who had difficulty scoring against the Edinburg High Bobcats and Edinburg North Cougars in their last two contests.
Expect Vela senior quarterback AJ Sotelo and senior running back PJ Rivera to have big games through the air and on the ground, respectively, as the SaberCats look for a statement win in their return to the field.
Vela (1-0, 0-0) and Economedes (0-3, 0-3) will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Richard R. Flores Stadium.
EAGLES, PATS TO SQUARE OFF IN BATTLE OF CONWAY
The “Battle of Conway” between the Mission High Eagles and Mission Veterans Patriots, an annual gridiron tradition in the Rio Grande Valley, was scheduled for August before the season began.
The game was pulled off the schedule and added again on five different alternate dates, but the Eagles and Patriots will meet once again in 2020 after all in one of the RGV’s top rivalry games.
Mission Veterans is coming off a big district win over the Roma Gladiators where the offense looked sharp under the command of senior quarterback Ricky Reyna and senior receivers AJ Gonzaque and Justin Rodriguez.
On the opposite sideline, however, the Eagles will be set to make their return to the gridiron after a week off and a dominant start to the regular season.
Mission High, the fourth-ranked team in the latest RGVSports.com Top 10 Poll, has rolled to blowout wins over Edinburg High and PSJA High and boasts one of the Valley’s top defenses and an explosive offensive captained by junior quarterback Jeremy Duran, District 31-6A’s leading passer.
The key to this matchup should be the Patriots’ high-powered offense versus the Eagles’ lockdown defense led by senior defensive tackle Dante Lopez and senior safety Luis Briseño.
Mission High (2-0, 2-0) and Mission Veterans (1-1, 1-1) will meet at noon Saturday at Tom Landry Stadium in Mission.
DONNA NORTH LOOKS TO SURPRISE PSJA NORTH
PSJA North and Donna North will meet in the only Class 6A non-district game of the week, a last-minute contest picked up by both teams.
The Raiders will be looking to rebound after a tough road loss to McAllen Memorial and move back above .500 as the regular season nears its stretch run.
For the Chiefs and first-year head coach Juan Cuevas, though, this game represents an opportunity to earn the team’s first win of a new era and end the Valley’s longest active winless streak, which currently stands at 27 games.
Donna North’s offense showed positive strides against the Harlingen South Hawks and Edcouch-Elsa Yellow Jackets in the first two weeks of the season but ran into a buzzsaw last week against the Harlingen High Cardinals.
The Chiefs’ defense will have a tall order trying to slow down District 31-6A’s two leading rushers too: Raiders junior running back Isaac Gonzalez and freshman quarterback Sergio Aparicio.
PSJA North (2-2, 2-0) and Donna North (0-3, 0-2) will duel at 7 p.m. Thursday at Bennie LaPrade Stadium in Donna.