EDINBURG — Senior quarterbacks Kevin Guerra and Evan Medrano are in their first years as starters at Mission High and Edinburg North, respectively.

It didn’t take long for them to earn the respect and trust of their teammates, which has translated to 2-1 overall and 1-0 starts in district play for both the Cougars and Eagles this season.

Friday night, Guerra will lead Mission High into a pivotal District 31-6A contest against Medrano and Edinburg North at 7:30 p.m. at Bill Pate Stadium in Hidalgo.

The process of becoming a starting quarterback began last year for North’s Medrano, a former receiver.

Edinburg North quarterback Evan Medrano passes the ball during football practice at Edinburg North High School on Wednesday, Aug 11, 2021, in Edinburg. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

He established himself as a leader after making his first start at quarterback during the Cougars’ final game of the 2020 season — a 38-3 bi-district playoff loss against Harlingen High. Medrano took his lumps, but he also learned what’s required to compete at a high level.

During the offseason, Edinburg North head coach Damian Gonzalez and staff spoke to Medrano about his role in the Cougars’ offense.

“We pretty much sat him down and said, ‘This is your offense. We’re going to change some stuff around to take advantage of what you can do,’” Gonzalez said.

The result for the Cougars has been the No. 1-ranked offense in District 31-6A with an average of 357.7 total yards per game. Edinburg North averaged just 216 yards in five games last season.

Medrano also leads the district with 525 passing yards and seven touchdown tosses.

“Evan’s a smart kid. He does a great job of reading defenses and knowing where the holes are and where the reads are,” Gonzalez said. “He’s an AP student and he’s done a tremendous job out on the field for us.”

Leading the opposite offense Friday night will be Mission High’s Guerra, a transfer from Rio Grande City.

Coming into an established program that nearly reached the regional quarterfinals during last year’s playoffs, Guerra earned the respect and trust of his teammates through his on-field play.

He’s displayed dual-threat ability this season as he’s thrown for 474 passing yards and seven touchdowns while also running for 180 yards and four rushing touchdowns.

Mission High quarterback Kevin Guerra (9) carries the ball with pressure from Mission Veterans defender Oscar Valdez (43) in a non-distirct game at Bill Pate Stadium on Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021, in Hidalgo. (Joel Martinez | [email protected])

Mission High first-year head coach Danny Longoria said Guerra came in and displayed leadership from Day 1, which was no easy task as the quarterback of a team with district-title aspirations.

“The fact that every week he works hard, he’s been very meticulous about understanding what we have to do and executing. I think he’s running tough with the ball and earning a lot of respect from his teammates,” Longoria said. “It’s a big deal because when you have a young man that had to put himself in a different environment, especially during COVID, it gives the kids a lot of confidence knowing they got a guy that’s going to show up and play for you.”

Boosting the transition for both quarterbacks has been a pair of No. 1 receivers.

Guerra’s go-to guy has been Josiah Guzman, a wideout who has amassed 10 receptions for 154 yards and four touchdowns. Meanwhile, Medrano’s main target has been Yahir Rodriguez, District 31-6A’s leader in receiving yards (263) and touchdown catches (five).

The quarterback and receiver combinations will take the field Friday night to determine which team will take a giant step forward toward their district title and playoff hopes.

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