Mission Veterans quarterback Braden Luedeker and Edinburg Vela running back Jamal Polley were both game-changers for their respective teams during the 2023 season.

Luedeker was one of Texas’ top dual-threat quarterbacks and Polley emerged as one of the top running backs across the state to split The Monitor’s All-Area Offensive Player of the Year honors.

Mission Veterans quarterback Braden Luedeker is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Football Co-Offensive Player of the Year. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Luedeker, Mission Veterans senior signal caller, lit up defenses with his arm and legs on a weekly basis to lead the Patriots to a share of the District 16-5A DII crown. Luedeker finished the year ranked ninth in Texas in total yards with 4,836 yards in 12 games played. He completed 210-of-370 passes for 3,491 yards and 36 touchdowns and ran for another 1,345 yards and 15 touchdowns.

“I give all my thanks and glory to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, because without him, none of this would have been possible,” Luedeker said. “As far as my statistics, it was a whole team effort. I have to have lineman blocking, receivers catching, I have to have everybody on that field contributing to that, so it was a team effort.”

Harlingen High quarterback Braden Luedeker (1) passes the ball against Mission Veterans in a non-district game at Tom Landry Stadium on Friday, Sept. 8, 2023, in Mission. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Luedeker was the area’s best at scrambling to buy time while keeping his eyes downfield to hit an open receiver for a big gain. When his pass catchers weren’t open, he had no problem creating on the ground with sideline-to-sideline runs that left defenses throwing up their hands.

Polley, Edinburg Vela’s senior workhorse, proved to be a game-changing back with the ability to score on any given touch. His game combined great balance, patience, speed and strength that resulted in leaving defenses in the dust.

Edinburg Vela running back Jamal Polley is The Monitor’s 2023 All-Area Football Co-Offensive Player of the Year. Photo by Andrew Cordero.

Polley led the SaberCats with 1,964 rushing yards on 210 carries and 31 rushing touchdowns in 12 games. He averaged 9.4 yards per carry and also caught seven passes for 107 yards and a touchdown, leading Vela to a 10-2 overall record.

“I just want to thank everyone that believed in me. My O-line for blocking and making the holes for me, the coaches for believing in me and giving me the ball and the trainers for always keeping me healthy,” Polley said. “It was an honor to be a captain. I knew that if my number was called I had to get it done.”

Edinburg Vela’s Jamal Polley, breaks up the middle for big yardage against Weslaco East during the first half of a non-district football game at Richard R. Flores Stadium Thursday, September 7, 2023 in Edinburg. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Polley’s signature game of the 2023 campaign came in a 327-yard, six-touchdown rushing performance against Weslaco East on just 21 carries. He finished the season with five games of 200 rushing yards or more.

Both Polley and Luedeker plan on taking their games to the next level. Polley is committed to play college football at UTRGV, while Luedeker is committed to Midland University in Nebraska.