The area round of the Texas high school football playoffs delivers marquee matchups across the board as the Rio Grande Valley’s top 5A squads clash head-to-head against some of the Coastal Bend and San Antonio-area’s best.
CLASS 5A DI
Brownsville Veterans meets a familiar playoff foe at 7 p.m. Friday night at Buccaneer Stadium in Corpus Christi.
The Chargers have lost to Corpus Christi Veterans three times in their past four playoff appearances.
Brownsville Veterans heads to Corpus Christi extremely experienced and looking for back-to-back 10-win seasons for the first time in program history. The Chargers have plenty of impact players: Gilbert Trillo, Gerry Gomez, Alvin Trevillion, Storm Montoya, Nick Tovar, Jaime Martinez and Matthew Pinion to name a few.
The Eagles, the defending regional champs, have a tall sophomore quarterback, Billy White III, that threw for 2,774 yards during the regular season. Running back Luke Moya and receivers Christian Sabsook and Luke Johnson should be a handful.
The fourth meeting, an area-round game, is likely to be a competitive one.
The SaberCats (10-1, 6-1) will play host to the Coastal Bend’s top team in 2023 in the Corpus Christi Miller Buccaneers (11-0, 7-0) at 7 p.m. tonight at Richard R. Flores Stadium in Edinburg.
Edinburg Vela (10-1, 6-1) has flipped a switch since its lone loss of the season against PSJA North, outscoring opponents 314-57 in six games, including a 31-9 bi-district victory over Weslaco East in Edinburg last week.
Senior running back Jamal Polley has been the workhorse for the Vela offense (381.8 total yards per game) this season with 1,755 rushing yards and 28 rushing touchdowns on 176 carries. He’ll look for room to run behind a solid SaberCats offensive line that has a chance to find openings in the Buccaneers’ defense.
Meanwhile, the Bucs come in averaging 553.6 yards of offense. Vela will have to contain Miller’s passing and rushing attack, led by quarterback Trevor Long (2,989 passing yards, 48 touchdowns) and running back Broderick Taylor (1,778 rushing yards, 304 receiving yards, 26 touchdowns).
If Vela can get past Miller in Round 2, it will be the SaberCats’ seventh regional semifinal playoff appearance since 2015.
The Hawks made it past the bi-district hurdle that slipped them up the last two seasons to set up a meeting in the area round with Victoria West at 1 p.m. at Cabaniss in Corpus Christi.
Harlingen South’s only losses this season are to teams still in the playoffs: Weslaco High, Harlingen High and Brownsville Veterans.
The Hawks can run the ball and play defense, a formula to success any Friday night, and they have two good running backs with David Sanchez and Alvin Edwards.
Harlingen South’s greatest strength is the defensive line. and it will look to stop Victoria West running back Kamauri Montgomery and quarterback Camden Repper, two seniors that went toe-to-toe with Brownsville Veterans in this round last season.
PSJA North, the seventh-ranked team in the state, according to Dave Campbell’s Texas Football, has its sights set on another deep playoff run but is focused on the task at hand — an area-round matchup against Victoria East at 7 p.m. Friday at Phil Danaher Stadium in Calallen.
PSJA North dominated Donna High 45-7 last week and is allowing just 4.1 points per game this season while scoring 46.5 points per game.
Standing between PSJA North (11-0, 7-0) and a third-straight regional semifinal playoff appearance is Victoria East (8-3, 6-1), a team coming off a 35-13 bi-district win over Medina Valley. PSJA North’s ball-hawking defense and overpowering rushing attack gives the Raiders the tools needed to secure an area-round win and keep the black-and-silver train rolling in the postseason.
CLASS 5A DII
The Patriots are riding a five-game winning streak into Round 2 and playing arguably their best football of the season. The team on the opposite sideline tonight has a hot streak of its own going with nine straight San Antonio Pieper wins.
One streak will come to an end tonight as Mission Veterans (7-4, 4-1) clashes against S.A. Pieper (10-1, 6-0) at 7 p.m. at Shirley Field in Laredo.
Mission Veterans steamrolled Valley View 43-6 last week behind five Braden Luedeker touchdowns. The Patriots’ quarterback has been on a tear this season with 3,228 passing yards, 36 passing touchdowns, 1,245 rushing yards and 14 rushing touchdowns. He ranks fourth in the state among all classifications with 4,473 total yards.
If Luedeker and company can work their magic in Round 2, the Patriots have a shot to keep their playoff run alive.
The Diamondbacks make their return to the area round for a showdown against Liberty Hill, the team that eliminated Sharyland Pioneer from the Region IV-5A DII final in 2020.
Kickoff between the Diamondbacks (10-1, 4-1) and Panthers (7-4, 4-2) is slated for 7 tonight at Dub Farris Stadium in San Antonio.
The District 16-5A DII tri-champion Diamondbacks have proven they can beat teams through the air and on the ground with an average of 451.1 total yards of offense per game.
Senior quarterback Julian Valdez, a three-year starter, has torched defenses with his arm and legs, with 2,452 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 933 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns in 11 games. His go-to target has been Leo Espinoza Jr., the RGV’s receiving leader with 59 receptions for 1,174 yards and 18 touchdowns. Sophomore running back Dylan Tijerina has added a tough running element out of the backfield alongside Valdez with 1,271 yards and 20 touchdowns.
The Diamondbacks’ defense will be tested against Liberty Hill’s Slot-T offense that has rushed for 4,569 yards and 52 touchdowns this season.
CLASS 2A DI
The Cardinals (9-2, 5-0) are set to make their second area-round appearance in three seasons as La Villa takes on the Weimar Wildcats (9-2, 4-2) at 7:30 tonight at Robstown High School.
La Villa has piled up 26 wins during the past three years and has the potential to kick down the third-round door this season with an experienced senior group led by athletes Brandon Felix and Rey Perez.
The playmaking duo accounted for all four of La Villa’s touchdowns in its 26-24 bi-district victory over Three Rivers last week. Felix threw for 110 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 104 yards and a score. Perez caught three passes for 97 yards and two touchdowns, and ran for 51 yards and a rushing touchdown. The duo also combined to make 11 tackles on defense playing in the La Villa secondary.
Weimar ran through Junction 55-0 to set up the area-round matchup against La Villa.