Laredo United’s Atzel Chavez is no stranger to the Rio Grande Valley.
He recalls trips to the RGV with his family to visit South Padre Island or for practice with the Valley’s FBU team.
The RGV also is where Chavez threw his first career varsity touchdown pass, a 25-yard toss to Christian Saldana during a non-district contest against Harlingen High at Boggus Stadium in Harlingen.
Chavez’s history with the RGV makes it no surprise he is set to call the Valley home for the next chapter of his career, verbally committing to play for UTRGV earlier this year.
Before any of that, however, Chavez is set to play one last game in the Valley as a high school quarterback when the Longhorns travel to Roma to take on Harlingen High tonight.
“I really like the area and stuff,” Chavez said. “It kind of just felt like where I could call home for the next three to four years. I love the scenery and location. The school is great. Then I’ve gotten a ton of support. I haven’t really interacted with fans from the Valley, but I’ve seen the support. I got athletes from the Valley reaching out, telling me congrats and stuff. Just having that connection is big. I know they don’t consider Laredo the Valley, even though we’re kind of close, but we’re still 956, though.”
Chavez became the Vaqueros’ first quarterback commit in program history July 31, announcing his decision with a post on his Twitter account.
For Chavez, the decision to join UTRGV was an easy one after meeting the coaching staff during a camp at Texas State over the summer.
It was there that Chavez received his official offer from the Vaqueros, almost instantly knowing UTRGV is where he would be going. The four-year letterman also had received interest from Rice and Texas State prior to committing to UTRGV.
“With the people I talked to, like my quarterback coach, they said great things about Coach Bush and his staff,” Chavez said. “I was watching one of the interviews before I even got the offer, and they were talking about the facilities and what they’re trying to be at UTRGV. It just feels like they’re coming in to take over. … Just talking about the future and what they want to do, it made it easy to choose UTRGV.”
Chavez has been able to focus on honing his craft this season with his college decision made, he said, with his numbers through four games showing the offseason work.
The reigning District 30-6A MVP is on pace for career numbers as a senior, averaging 335.3 passing yards and 3.3 passing touchdowns per game through four games, putting him on pace for a career-high 3,353 yards and 33 touchdowns.
UTRGV football fans can catch the UTRGV commit and the Longhorns when they take on the Cardinals at 7 p.m. tonight at Gladiator Arena in Roma.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this first recruiting class at UTRGV,” Chavez said. “I put a lot of pride into what I do. I think Valley fans are getting a really good player in me, in my opinion. I’m just excited to be down in the Valley again and call it home.”
EAST VALLEY BEASTS
The race for the District 32-6A title came down to two teams last year, with Harlingen High taking the crown thanks to a one-game advantage over San Benito.
This year’s race could come down to four teams, however, with Harlingen High, Los Fresnos, San Benito and Weslaco High sporting a combined 15-1 record as of press time Thursday, with San Benito in action against Edinburg High.
The Cardinals, Greyhounds and Panthers all entered the final week of non-district play with a 4-0 record in tow, while the Falcons sit at 3-1.
The Cardinals and Panthers will look to remain perfect against non-Valley teams tonight, with Harlingen High taking on Laredo United at 7 p.m. at Gladiator Arena in Roma, while the Panthers host Laredo United South at 7 p.m. at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Edinburg.
The Falcons will look to improve to 4-1 against the streaking Mission High Eagles, who have won back-to-back contests, at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Tom Landry Stadium in Mission.
Mission High’s Thomas Aparicio didn’t have a huge role during his first varsity season last year. The then-sophomore appeared in just four games for the Eagles, rushing for 94 yards and two touchdowns.
This year has been a different story, however, with the junior emerging as one of the top rushers in the RGV through the season’s first four weeks.
The Eagles’ workhorse has been on a tear since Week 2, surpassing the 100-yard mark three straight times en route to a district-leading 476 rushing yards and six touchdowns.
Aparicio’s emergence has the Eagles’ offense humming, averaging a district-leading 455.5 yards and 34.0 points per game. The Eagles also hold the best record in District 31-6A, sitting at 2-2 with just one non-district contest remaining.
Aparicio and the Eagles will look to continue rolling and make it three straight wins when they take on the Los Fresnos Falcons (3-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tom Landry Stadium in Mission.