All eyes were on Brownsville Veterans and PSJA North during the third round of the playoffs last season, with the Valley vs. Valley matchup guaranteeing at least one RGV team would play into December.
The Valley’s eyes will once against be on the Chargers and Raiders this year, with the two teams gearing up for a rematch at 4 p.m. this Friday.
PSJA North took home a 35-15 victory over their RGV foe last season, punching their ticket to the fourth round of the playoffs for the first time in program history.
The stakes are just as high this season, with the winner advancing to the Region IV-5A championship game next week to take on the winner between Corpus Christi Miller and Victoria West.
The RGVSports.com staff took a look at each team’s starters at key positions to see how the two teams matchup heading into Friday’s rematch.
The Chargers and Raiders aren’t known for their aerial assaults, both teams leaning heavily on their running games during the regular season.
Both teams, however, have playmakers behind center able to make plays with their arm and legs when called upon.
Brownsville Veterans junior Storm Montoya took over the QB1 role this season following the graduation of Reese Sampayo. Montoya has performed well during his first year behind center, completing 38-of-67 passes for 747 yards and one touchdown in 10 regular season games.
The former full back also added 477 yards and 12 scores on 70 carries.
PSJA North is led by an experienced signal caller in senior Ale Aparicio, a four-year letter winner with the Raiders. After missing three games due to injury, Aparicio came back like he never left, throwing for 780 yards and 11 scores in seven regular season appearances, while adding 22 carries for 121 yards and a score.
Aparicio’s dual-threat capability was on full display during the Raiders’ 45-7 bi-district victory over Donna High, accounting for 338 total yards (145 passing, 193 rushing) and 5 total scores.
The Raiders also benefit from a more than viable backup quarterback in senior Julius Arredondo. The do-it-all athlete threw for 556 yards and five touchdowns during Aparicio’s absence.
Like last year, both teams are led into the contest by dominant rushing attacks. The Chargers averaged 332.0 rushing yards per game in the regular season, while the Raiders averaged 334.1.
PSJA North fields a three-headed monster in the backfield in Ethan Guerra, Jason Montez and Jaden Fuentes. The trio combined for 2,653 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns during the regular season.
Montez led all rushers on the team during the regular season, toting the rock 135 times for 1,101 yards and 10 scores. Guerra added 1,094 yards and 10 touchdowns on 100 carries, while Fuentes rushed for 458 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Chargers have a capable trio of their own in Alvin Trevillion, Gilbert Trillo and Jose Sanchez, who combined for 1,698 yards and 17 touchdowns during the regular season.
Trevillion, this year’s District 32-5A newcomer of the year, has been on a tear during the Chargers first two playoff games, rushing for 337 yards and two touchdowns during that span.
WIDE RECEIVERS/TIGHT ENDS
Like mentioned before, neither team is known for high-flying aerial assaults. Both teams, however, are filled with playmakers in the passing game ready to make a play in the blink of an eye.
The Chargers receiving group is highlighted by 6-foot-1 playmakers Gerry Gomez. The long athletic wideout can outjump any defender, while also possessing blazing 4.5 speed to blow the top off defenses.
While his numbers took a dip from last season, Gomez’s big-play ability is still noticeable in his 28.6 yards per reception average.
Senior Nick Tovar adds another big red zone weapon for the Chargers, measuring in at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds. Tovar also adds another big body on the line to help Brownsville Veterans running attack.
The Raiders field some big weapons in the passing game as well in wideout Markus Rendon and tight end Julius Arredondo.
Rendon, a senior, has hauled in 23 catches for 349 yards and five scores, the second highest mark on the team behind only fullback Jaden Fuentes. Arredondo, who spent the early part of the season at QB, has 15 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
It all begins in the trenches for both the Chargers and the Raiders, with the big boys up front tasked with opening holes for the run-heavy offenses.
Both groups are senior heavy, with eight of the 10 combined starters heading into the contest upperclassmen.
Senior Joe Derek Vecchio, a UTRGV commit, anchors PSJA North’s front five from his center position. The 6-foot-2, 285 pound is joined by seniors Derin Palacios, Adaen Sanchez, Agustin Renteria and junior Jordan Brewster.
The Chargers trench warriors are highlighted by 6-foot-2, 270-pound senior guard Matthew Pinion. The three-year letter winner is joined by seniors Israel Yanez, Jezreel Garza, Santiago Sanchez and junior Rafael Lara.
This year’s matchup between the Chargers and Raiders will likely be decided in the trenches, with both teams offensive and defensive lines among the best in the RGV.
The Chargers defensive front consists of a mix of lower and upper classmen, with two sophomore and two seniors starting for Brownsville Veterans.
Sophomore Andrew Quintero and Damian Rodriguez have enjoyed successful debut seasons, combining for 81 total tackles, two tackles for loss and two forced turnovers from their defensive tackle positions. Meanwhile, seniors Miguel Selvera and Matt Maldonado have applied pressure from the edges, combining for 92 total tackles, five tackles for loss and three sacks.
The Raiders are led by a fearsome senior trio, all of which measure over six feet and weigh over 250 pounds. Danny Garcia, a UTRGV commit, highlights the group, racking up 87 total tackles, 17 tackles for loss and two sacks this season.
He is joined by fellow UTRGV commit and twin sibling Dante Garcia in the trenches. Dante, who made the move from offensive to defensive line this season, tallied 43 total tackles, four tackles for loss and two sacks in just six games this year.
Nose tackle Salvador Sanchez rounds out PSJA North’s dominant defensive front, recording 53 total tackles and four tackles for loss this year.
PSJA North’s linebacking corp might be among the best in South Texas this year, with a trio of hard-nosed linebackers in senior Mikey Gonzales and juniors Steven Garza and Jesse Montez.
Gonzales leads the group with 95 total tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 1 interception. Juniors Garza and Montez are no slouches, however, each racking up at least 80 total tackles and a combined 19 tackles for loss.
The Chargers have some playmaking linebackers of their own, highlighted by Jaime Martinez. The senior has had a nose for a ball all season long, racking up 130 total tackles, 10 tackles for loss, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Add in junior Max Fernandez (79 total tackles, 3 TFL) and the linebackers will be an interesting group to watch Friday.
Brownsville Veterans and PSJA North’s defenses feature two of the best defensive backs in the RGV in seniors Gilbert Trillo and Leroy Palacios.
Trillo has made an impact in Brownsville Veterans secondary, recording 57 tackles and four interceptions while playing both safety and running back for the Chargers.
Palacios has been a ballhawk when on the field for the Raiders, snatching four interceptions to go along with his 39 total tackles, 3 TFL, and two fumble recoveries.
Trillo and Palacios aren’t the only two playmakers in their respective team’s secondary units.
Sophomore Ethan Montemayor has taken a step forward in year 2 with the Raiders, nearly doubling his tackle total from last year from 33 to 60 tackles, while also adding eight tackles for loss, two sacks and one forced fumble.
Meanwhile, juniors Mickey Rodriguez and Eroz Pineda solidify the Chargers pass defense, combining for 100 total tackles and two interceptions.
Having a reliable kicker can make or break a team in a close game, with a missed extra point potentially being the difference between a win or a loss.
Luckily for the Chargers and Raiders, they both have a kicker with proven reliability on their roster this year.
PSJA North’s Raul Isasi has been near automatic on extra points, going 62-of-67 this year for a 92.5% conversion rate. The junior kicker also went 2-of-2 on field goal attempts.
On the opposite side, Brownsville Veterans’ Roman Reyna has been just as good, going 43-of-46 on extra points for 93.5% conversion rate. Like Isasi, Reyna also went 2-of-2 on field goal attempts, including a long 41 yards.
Friday’s regional semifinal rematch between Brownsville Veterans and PSJA North presents multiple interesting matchups at each position.
From the battle in the trenches, to a pair of dual-threat quarterbacks leading the charge, the Chargers and Raiders look set for a clash of the Valley’s best.
Regardless of the winner on the field, the RGV will come out on top, with at least one team headed to Round 4 of the playoffs for a second straight year.