IN PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
WESLACO EAST WILDCATS
ENROLLMENT: 2,224.5 (5)
2014 RECORD: 10-3 6A Div. II Regional Semi-Finalist
THE COACH: Michael Burget
THE PLAYERS: Emilo Tamez (Sr., RB), Jonathon Banda (Sr., OL), Marco Arroyo (Sr., DL), Ciro Rojas (Sr., ATH), Santos Garcia (Sr., DL), Miguel Santos (Sr., LB), J.C. Vargas (So., DB), Roy Pedraza (So., LB), Gavin Gaytan (Sr., OL), J.J. Garza (Sr., QB)
THE WORD: The Wildcats went senior heavy on offense last year and it paid off as they reached the regional playoffs. This year the Wildcats will have to remake their offense but Coach Michael Burget and his bunch are motivated to make their ninth straight playoff appearance. Senior offensive lineman Jonathon Banda is the lone returning starter on offense. Banda is big at 6-foot-0, 270-pounds and will provide leadership for a young offensive line. Senior running back Emilo Tamez returns after splitting carries last year. Tamez ran for 320 yards and four touchdowns last season as a junior. The Wildcats will have to find a new quarterback. Senior J.J. Garza seems the likely choice after serving as a backup last season. The strength of the Wildcats will come on defense, where they return eight starters. Senior defensive end Marco Arroyo racked up 78 tackles and two sacks last year. Fellow senior defensive end Santos Garcia led the team with 108 tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble. Senior defensive back Ciro Rojas had a district-best five interceptions – he also had two receiving touchdowns on offense.
PSJA NORTH RAIDERS
ENROLLMENT: 2,312 (4)
2014 RECORD: 5-6 6A Div. II Bi-District Playoffs
THE COACH: Jorge Pena
THE PLAYERS: George Olivarez (Sr., QB), Rene Ramirez (Jr., RB), Fabian Ramirez (Sr., OL/DL), Matt Garza (Sr., DL), Saul Zuniga (Sr., WR/DB), Darren Fuentes (Jr., ATH), Bo Adams (Jr., WR), Vicente Palacios (Sr., OL), Eric Estrada (Sr., OL), Mark Garza (Sr., DB)
THE WORD: First-team all-district quarterback George Olivarez returns after leading the league in rushing for a quarterback. Olivarez is a talented athlete that also plays strong safety when he’s not directing the offense. Fellow first-team all-district selection Rene Ramirez also returns after suffering an injury last year that limited him at times. A full strength Ramirez combined with Olivarez will be enough to give defenses fits. Senior offensive lineman Fabian Ramirez was an honorable mention all-state selection last year and is good on his feet for his size (6-foot-0, 265-pounds). Senior defensive end Matt Garza racked up 10 sacks last year and coach Jorge Pena has liked what he has seen in the offseason as the Raiders have “all-state aspirations” for him. Senior Saul Zuniga is the team’s top deep threat on offense and is a ball hawk at free safety. Junior Darren Fuentes was an all-district pick at wide receiver last year. Fuentes will be the team’s kick and punt returner as well as seeing action at cornerback this fall. The Raiders have a wealth of talent returning to their roster, coach Pena should be excited about his team’s potential.
ENROLLMENT: 2,530 (2)
2014 RECORD: 7-5 6A Div. I Area Finalist
THE COACH: Tony Villareal
THE PLAYERS: Matthew Lara (Sr., ATH), Desi Rodriguez (Sr., QB), Brian Guerra (Sr., RB), Jonathan Martinez (Sr., RB), Trey Caballero (Jr., ATH), Joshua Zavala (Sr., OL), Tommy Nunez (Sr., OL), Aaron Amador (Sr., LB), Ethan Deluna (Sr., DB), Elijah Banda (So., QB)
THE WORD: The Panthers took a hit when quarterback Desi Rodriguez went down to injury midway through the year but they kept on trucking. Weslaco kept on trucked all the way to the second round of the playoffs as the Panthers finished the regular season with four consecutive wins. The Panthers are poised to return to the playoffs and hope to make an even deeper run with the return of Rodriguez and a slew of other Panthers from last year’s team. Senior running back Brian Guerra returns after splitting carries with a trio of backs, including fellow senior Jonathan Martinez. Guerra is good in the run game, but is also one of Rodriguez’s favorite targets out of the backfield. Junior Trey Caballero played mostly defensive end as a sophomore but is also a talented running back prospect, breaking off long runs in mop up time. Senior offensive linemen Tommy Nunez and Joshua Zavala are both three-year starters and all-district selections from a year ago. The Panthers will try to build on last season’s playoff run and improve upon it with a strong nucleus returning.
EDINBURG NORTH COUGARS
ENROLLMENT: 2,635 (1)
2014 RECORD: 5-6 Div. I Bi-District Finalist
THE COACH: Rene Saenz
THE PLAYERS: Cristian Espinoza (Jr., QB), Justin Guerra (Jr., ATH), Omar Acevedo (Jr., RB), Ubaldo Pequeno (Sr., WR), Angel Barron (Sr., WR), Sebastian Bulos (Jr., LB), John Mendoza (Sr., DB), Andy Trejo (Jr., DL), Matthew Leal (Jr., OL), Jose Casas (Jr., OL)
THE WORD: Edinburg North snuck into the playoffs with a 3-3 league mark before being dismissed in the first round of the playoffs. The Cougars will look to build on that playoff trip with a mix of experienced youth and upperclassmen. The Cougars broke in a strong class of sophomores last year and will benefit from that class moves into larger roles. Junior quarterback Cristian Espinoza takes over under-center after playing sparingly as a backup last season. Espinoza is speedy and even took some carries at running back last season. The Cougars have to replace the production of graduated running backs Matt Whiteside and Martin Rodriguez, who combined for more than 1,700 yards last season. Juniors Justin Guerra and Omar Acevedo are the lead candidates to step into those roles. Senior wide receivers Ubaldo Peuqno and Angel Barron are both three-year starters and will be reliable targets for Espinoza as he adjusts to the starting role. The Cougars will have to adjust to what should be a remade team, but yet they still have plenty of experience. Look for the Cougars to be in playoff contention.
PSJA MEMORIAL WOLVERINES
ENROLLMENT: 2,108 (7)
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Mike Uribe
THE PLAYERS: Jacob Escobedo (Sr., OL), Joseph Gamez (Sr., DL), Michael Gonzalez (Sr., QB), Vincente Rodriguez (Sr., ATH), Gerardo Bocanegra (Sr., WR), Jose Ramirez (Sr., DL), John Saenz (Sr., WR), Derwk Matamoros (Sr., DB), Jesus Rodriguez (Sr., RB), Abram Alaniz (Sr., DB). THE WORD: For the first time in 11 seasons, the Wolverines will have a new head coach as Gus Cavasos resigned his post to take and administration position within the school district. McAllen Rowe defensive coordinator Mike Uribe steps in at head coach for the Wolverines as he attempts to turn the program around, Uribe has prior head coaching experience as he was the boss at Mercedes until 2013. Uribe should be happy with the team that he inherits. While the Wolverines didn’t have a winning record last year, they developed some players that could get them into the postseason this year. Senior quarterback Michael Gonzalez is back after throwing for 1,392 yards and eight touchdowns while running for 202 yards. Gonzalez will benefit from having senior offensive lineman Jacob Escobedo protecting his back. Escobedo is a three-year starter, who stands 6-foot-2, 289 pounds. Senior wide receiver Gerardo Bocanegra is an all-district wideout after catching 47 passes for 851 yards and four touchdowns last year. Bocanegra and Gonzalez area arguably the best quarterback-receiving duo in the district. The Wolverines will be a team to watch with the potential to earn a playoff spot.
EDINBURG ECONOMEDES JAGUARS
ENROLLMENT: 2,502 (3)
2014 RECORD: 4-6
THE COACH: Gabe Pena
THE PLAYERS: Alan Garcia (Sr., TE), Alexis Alvarez (Sr., DL), Jesse Gonzalez (Sr., QB), Allen Arredondo (Jr., RB), Carlie Vela (Jr., RB), Darren Earhart (Jr., LB), Pedro Rodriguez (Jr., DB), Canales Lupe (Sr., OL), Ivan Maldonado (Sr., OL)
THE WORD: The Jaguars have some rebuilding to do with three starters returning on offense and four on defense but coach Gabe Pena is still excited about the season. Despite the losses, the Jaguars have more speed than the year before and, thanks to a wealth of depth last year, they should also have a more experienced defense. Senior tight end Alan Garcia is big for his position, weighing in at 245-pounds. Garcia provides a boost to the running game, often sealing off the edge on outside running plays. Senior quarterback Jesse Gonzalez returns and will be better with the experience of his junior season under his belt. Junior running back Allen Arredondo is elusive and has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field. He’ll be joined by fellow junior running back Carlie Vela, who is more of a change of pace back. Juniors Darren Earhart and Pedro Rodriguez both are developing into leaders on the defensive side of the ball. Earhart made a name for himself at linebacker as a sophomore while Rodriguez is a steady defensive back.
ENROLLMENT: 2,201 (6)
2014 RECORD: 2-8
THE COACH: Joaquin Escobar
THE PLAYERS: Matthew Basquez (Sr., OL), Marez Nathan (Jr., RB), Zaith Rodriguez (Sr., LB), Jeremiah Montiel (Sr., TE), Danny Cuellar (Sr., DB), Ruben Cavazos (Sr., LB), Christian Hernandez (Jr., OL), Jerry Zea (Jr., WR), Abraham Juarez (Sr., DL)
THE WORD: The Bobcats are “embracing the grind” as they enter the new season, knowing the long road that is ahead of them. Edinburg has some pieces to work with as they look improve upon the 2-8 season they had a year ago. The Bobcats return six starters on offense and seven on defense. Senior offensive lineman Matthew Basquez was an all-district selection a year ago and will be counted on to anchor the line. Senior linebacker Zaith Rodriguez was a mainstay on the Bobcats’ defense last year and will rack up tackles with the best of defenders. Senior tight end Jeremiah Montiel is a big target with good hands and will be counted on to help in the short passing game. Senior defensive back Danny Cuellar was an honorable mention all-district pick a year ago and can provide leadership to an otherwise young secondary. Senior defensive lineman Abraham Juarez had a good offseason and could be among the team’s most improved players heading into the new season. Edinburg has plenty of experience returning, it’ll be interesting to see if they can use that experience to turn things around quickly.
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