CORPUS CHRISTI — PSJA North won the coin toss of its Region IV-5A DI area-round playoff game against Victoria East and deferred to the second half in hopes of starting the game by making a statement with the Raiders’ “Blackshirt Defense.”
The statement was made loud and clear after a three-and-out as PSJA North overpowered Victoria East 42-7 at Phil Danaher Stadium in Corpus Christi to punch its ticket back to the regional semifinal round for the third consecutive season.
PSJA North (12-0) will meet Brownsville Veterans (10-2) in the third round at 4 p.m. next Friday at PSJA Stadium in Pharr.
“We’ve been talking to those guys about whoever we play, they gotta make that statement. Look in their eyes and see if they want to come back over here and do it again, that type of mentality, and they had that tonight,” PSJA North head coach Marcus Kaufmann said. “I don’t think they’ve been hit like that all year, and once you start seeing the other team back down from hits, that’s what ended up happening tonight.”
With leading rusher Jason Montez sidelined due to injury, Raiders sophomore running back Ethan Guerra exploded with a monster four-touchdown performance behind the PSJA North offensive line, which created room to run over and over again against the Titans.
Senior quarterback Ale Aparicio ran for a 3-yard touchdown and tossed a 44-yard touchdown pass to Markus Rendon just before the end of the first half for a 28-0 halftime lead.
“I had to step for Jason Montez. I hope he comes back next week and we got to keep this thing going,” Guerra said. “We got to keep pushing. I wouldn’t be able to do that without the offensive line.”
PSJA North’s defense punished Victoria East all night. The Raiders held Victoria East to just two first downs in the first half, forcing two turnovers on downs, a three-and-out and a fumble recovered by cornerback Andre Matamoros across the first 24 minutes. Safety Leroy Palacios added a second half interception. Victoria East finally got on the board late in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard rushing touchdown against PSJA North’s reserves. The Raiders’ defense limited Victoria East to 54 yards entering the fourth quarter.
“Coming into this round, we know we have a big target on our backs from our success last year, but we try to hold ourselves to the same standard and keep the same energy day in, day out,” Matamoros said. “It’s 1,000 miles per hour, pedal to the metal, all gas no brakes. We came out as a team today and we played great from the jump and it showed on the scoreboard.”
The Raiders now shift their focus to a third-round rematch against Brownsville Veterans after the two faced off in a regional semifinal one season ago. PSJA North won that matchup 35-15, but the Chargers are riding high into Round 3 after picking up a 17-7 win over Corpus Christi Veterans on Friday night.
“They’re a very much improved football team. They’re very well-coached, crisp and got it all put together,” Kaufmann said.