MERCEDES — Mercedes has finished second in district in three of its past four seasons.

This year’s group hopes to change things by winning the District 16-5A DII title.

“We’re super driven, especially this season because we’ve lost to (Sharyland) Pioneer in the district championship game the last two years,” third-year quarterback Michael Cisneros said. “I feel like this year we have the team to go undefeated and win it.”

With 12 starters back, six on each side of the ball, the Tigers are poised to be more than a district-championship contender as one of the strongest Class 5A teams in the Rio Grande Valley.

“They know the expectations. They know the pressure is on them, but these guys are very mature,” Mercedes head coach Roger Adame said. “They’ve been through a lot. You can fold to the pressure or you can shine and be the diamond, and these guys know how to embrace it and handle it. That just comes from the mental toughness they have, being in this program and the daily talks that we have. They’re excited. They’re hungry. They know it’s going to be a challenge with a nine-team district with a lot of strong teams in there, and they know what it takes.”

Mercedes will trot out one of the most-balanced offenses in the RGV led by Cisneros and an arsenal of playmakers at skill positions.

The dual-threat senior quarterback threw for 1,402 yards and 15 touchdowns, while also running for 514 yards and three more scores in eight games last season.

Cisneros will have one of his top targets back in the fold in junior Tyrell Treviño, a rising star and deep threat at receiver. He posted 630 all-purpose yards and scored eight total touchdowns as a sophomore.

Miguel Jimenez, the team’s leading rusher in 2020 and a proven runner and receiver out of the backfield, will be relied upon as a chain mover in Mercedes’ spread offense.

“Offensively, we’re going to be good and execute. We have trust that we’re going to score on every drive,” Jimenez said. “I see a lot of potential we have, now we just have to go out there and ball out.”

A stingy secondary and solid defensive front seven will make scoring on Mercedes no easy task.

The Tigers’ defense brings back five of its top six tacklers in Jonathan Alvarado, Roan Galvan, Allan Gonzalez, Jaden Gonzalez and Isaac Lozoya.

After an appearance at the Texas State 7-on-7 Tournament earlier this summer in College Station, the Tigers are ready to hit the field.

“Experience is no trouble over here. We’re just ready to show it,” Cisneros said.

Mercedes is set to open non-district play with games Aug. 27 at Brownsville Hanna and Sept. 3 at home against Edinburg North before launching into District 16-5A DII play in Week 3 against PSJA Memorial.

“We’re going to focus on ourselves, and we feel if we focus on ourselves, execute the way we’re supposed to and coach them up, things will happen and fall in place. We have to practice Mondays the same way we’re going to play Fridays,” Adame said. “The pressure is always going to be there, but you have to embrace it, move forward and execute as a team.”

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