Yellow Jackets flying high as season approaches

ELSA — After missing the postseason in 2017 and 2018, “La Maquina Amarilla” has returned to smash-mouth form under head coach Christian Navarro since he took over the program midway through the 2018 season.

The Edcouch-Elsa Yellow Jackets have produced back-to-back playoff appearances the past two years, and they’ll be looking to make it three in a row this season.

“Making (the playoffs) back-to-back, we had the talent to go ahead and move forward. There were just certain things we needed to tweak here and there and make the kids believe,” Navarro said. “Bottom line is making the kids believe and things will take care of themselves. We have a lot of talented young men that work hard. They’re always hungry and very humble, which makes for a great football player. Because of that, I feel that’s a tribute to our success.”

Continuity can be key in developing chemistry, and that’s precisely what Edcouch-Elsa possesses with four returners on the offensive line.

They’ll be tasked with clearing paths for running back Josh Gomez and quarterback Brandon Cortez to run through in the Yellow Jackets’ Slot-T offense. The scheme saw tremendous success a season ago as Edcouch-Elsa scored 30-plus points in all five of its wins.

“We got a lot of speed, a lot of strength, and I think we got what it takes,” Cortez said. “I’m focusing on being a dual-threat. This is the healthiest I’ve ever been, the fastest and strongest I’ve ever been, so we gotta make it count — it’s our senior year.”

Quarterback Brandon Cortez passes the ball during Edcouch-Elsa football practice at Edcouch-Elsa High School on Wednesday, Aug 4, 2021, in Edcouch-Elsa. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Manning Edcouch-Elsa’s defense will be a fierce front with defensive ends Frank Martinez and Nico Herrera setting the edge. The Yellow Jackets also bring back two starters in the secondary with Alexis Rodriguez and Diego Valdez.

Martinez said he’s ready to return to a bit of normalcy after a unique 2020 season.

“I’m excited because last year we got the experience of playing football, but now we get the real experience of a Friday night light game with the fans, the noise and the band, so I’m excited to see how the season goes,” Martinez said.

The Yellow Jackets will look to build off last year’s third place in District 16-5A DII and a bi-district playoff loss to Boerne-Champion.

Edcouch-Elsa is set to open the regular season with a pair of non-district games against Los Fresnos on Aug. 27 and PSJA North on Sept. 3, both on the road. The Yellow Jackets are scheduled to begin District 16-5A DII competition on Sept. 10 against Sharyland High at Richard Thompson Stadium in Mission.

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