RIO HONDO — Rio Hondo has had plenty of success since Rocky James took over for the 2008 season.
The Bobcats returned to the playoffs after missing out in 2021. Rio Hondo might have graduated some good players from last season’s team that went 4-1 in District 16-3A DI to grab a share of the title, but it returns key players looking to challenge for another district title and make a playoff run.
The Bobcats are No. 4 in the RGVSports sub-5A poll.
“The expectations at Rio Hondo are always very high,” James said.
Winning a district title is the lowest expectation for the Class 3A program, James said. The Bobcats have some returning pieces that could help a repeat, or win an outright title.
The Bobcats return quarterback Ruben Atkinson for his junior season. Atkinson threw for 1,118 yards, 11 touchdowns and ran for 286 yard and five rushing touchdowns as a sophomore.
Atkinson played great in the first two scrimmages, James said.
“I feel really comfortable,” Atkinson said. “The past two scrimmages I felt really good with this line.”
The offense returns four starters, and the defense returns seven starters. Most of the team is comprised of juniors, James said. Junior Gavin Perez is hoping to make an impact at running back and slot receiver, he said.
“I just really hope we get our jobs done because I have big expectations for this team,” Perez said. “I think we can go far, hopefully make a deep run in the playoffs.”
Atkinson is going to have Perez as an offensive weapon and will also have standout junior Keyan Lopez.
Lopez was a standout in 2022. The linebacker and receiver came up with a game winning strip sack against Lyford to clinch the share of the district title. In 2022, Lopez was awarded Class 3A TSWA All-State honorable mention, while being named to the RGVSports.com All-Valley team.
“We are returning (Lopez) to a very good defense,” James said. “They should be really good this yea. We did really good with them last year and we have the majority of them back.”
Rio Hondo opens the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Raymondville in a non-district tilt.