The fireworks were set to begin a day later than expected, at least for city cage fans, as Jan. 2 promised to get the district slate percolating on high. Though the boys started the journey Dec. 22 – all four Edinburg's winning against Tri Cities clubs, by the way – the first datenight of the new year was the compelling point of interest.

That was when North would travel to the east to take on Econ, with all sorts of questions in the air. For that early rivalry clash, the Coogs, blessed with depth but cursed to have to depend on it this season in the wake of injuries, matched up with a Jags team that has not quite been an underachiever, but has also not quite been the dominant squad many predicted for 2017-18.

The Jags were the toast of the offseason tourney circuit, winning several crowns and setting themselves up as perhaps the team to beat in 31-6A. They started off with a 70-63 win against P-SJ-A Dec. 22 – rising to 15-8 overall by getting four guys into double figures – and then prepared to take on North (14-9), a group that has performed ably in recent weeks. The Coogs derailed Pharr North in their opener.

The other league games involving city teams Tuesday: EHS (17-6) at home against the Bears and Vela on the road at P-SJ-A Memorial. The Bobcats began with a victory over P-SJ-A Memorial while the SaberCats roared to a season-high 95 points in decimating P-SJ-A Southwest Dec. 22. EHS was clobbered at McHigh Friday by 19, however. Vela split two games at Calallen on Friday and again Saturday.

Friday’s slate had Econ at Southwest and Vela at home against the Raiders, as the Sabes compete against three Pharr schools before their first city battle, Jan. 12 against the Jags. But the big one Friday will be the Bobcats on the road against North, with EHS looking to exploit the Coogs inside with the excellent post play of senior Jesus Cantu, again averaging a double-double this season.

As the year begins so does the traditional doubleheader format giving area rooters a chance to be gender-neutral in their fanship. During the first half of the 31-6A campaign, the boys will go first, time-wise, with a switch at the halfway point.

For now, the EHS girls appear unassailable after a 3-0 start with wins by 45, 41, and 17 points. But North has been very good as well, going 2-1 so far with the only debit being a double overtime loss to 21-3 Pharr North.

Vela rebounded from a 0-2 start against city rivals to stomp Southwest, 60-24, in its last league game, and then competed at the House of Pain Tournament in McAllen to get some seasoning during the interim between Dec. 22 and Jan. 2. The Lady Sabes (17-8) knocked off Pace and Laredo LBJ Thursday and have now allowed less than 40 points 13 times in 25 games, scoring at least 50 ten times. Vela faced off with host McAllen Memorial Friday, losing before capping the event with victories against Eagle Pass Winn and Brownsville Vets.

The Econ girls were 0-3 pending Tuesday’s tilt with North, and looked ahead to Friday and a winnable muster against Southwest. The Lady Javelinas (0-3 in league) have won three of four non-district tries after beating Rowe Thursday. Alyssa Perez leads Econ in points and has topped 10 on six occasions, while fellow junior Nelly Morales has done it thrice.