Sharyland Pioneer running back Dylan Tijerina (24) looks for a hole against Edcouch-Elsa in a bi-district playoff meeting Thursday night at Richard Thompson Stadium in Mission. (Andrew Cordero/Special to The Monitor)

Sharyland Pioneer running back Dylan Tijerina made an instant impact for the Diamondbacks as the sophomore totaled 101 yards on 16 touches with one touchdown in his varsity debut, a 28-21 non-district victory over McAllen Rowe in the 2023 opener.

That was just a sign of things to come for Pioneer’s powerful runner as Tijerina is The Monitor’s All-Area Newcomer of the Year for the 2023 season.

Sharyland Pioneer running back Dylan Tijerina (24) carries the ball through the McAllen Rowe defense in a non-district game at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2023, in McAllen. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Tijerina finished his first year of varsity football with 1,388 rushing yards and 22 rushing touchdowns on 175 carries, also adding five receptions for 77 yards.

He got stronger as the season went on, too, with five consecutive 100-plus-yard games late in the year. That five-game run included rushing for 197 yards against crosstown rival Sharyland High, 209 against PSJA Memorial and 220 during the bi-district round of the playoffs against Edcouch-Elsa.

Tijerina also hit paydirt in 10 of 12 games, helping Pioneer finish the season 10-2 overall and 4-1 in district for a share of the District 16-5A DII championship.