It’s going to take some help for the Bobcats now, after they were smashed at home Friday by a Weslaco team that is looking more and more like a bona fide district champ.
The Panthers collected a cool 500 yards of offense and allowed just 193 in a convincing 48-21 victory that was essentially a thing by halftime, at 27-0 for the visitor. Closing off the inside run and showing too much team speed on the perimeter, Weslaco stayed unbeaten by holding EHS (1-3 in District 31-6A, 3-5 overall) to zero first downs in a one-sided first half.
To their credit, the ‘Cats came out with renewed vigor after the break, scoring 21 points to match the Panthers blow for blow. But by then the result was not in question, and the ‘Cats will have to win one of their last two games, at least, to get a shot at the fourth playoff spot. They close the season against Donna North, after this week’s Friday showdown with Vela. Some folks are predicting a three-way tie for the last ticket, which of course would mean that Econ (1-4, 2-7) would have to defeat North (2-3, 2-6) on Halloween. In terms of positive points, a Jag win by more than 1 point would hand the fourth spot to EHS. However, a 21-point Econ triumph would put the Jags in instead.
But right now, the ‘Cats are licking their wounds after a beating at the hands of Weslaco, a solid and athletic group that will go for the city sweep against North in November after having taken down three of four locals so far.
The Panthers had the mark on runner Shandon Woodard, holding him to four yards on nine bruising carries in the opening half, though the hard-running junior got rolling after intermission, finishing with 75 yards. The middle was a wall and when the ‘Cats tried the screen pass or rare outside run, Weslaco wheels would not allow it. Aiding the cause, however, QB Rolando Abrego threw a pair of touchdown passes for the second week in a row as EHS played with pride in quarters three and four.
Because Weslaco churned out an insane total of 31 first downs, the ‘Cat defense was busy early and often. As always, Emmanuel Duron was a man among boys with 15 tackles and two sacks, while several teammates had yeoman’s work to do as well. Senior Robert Alfaro turned in a great game with 13 tackles, and also had a 50-yard kickoff return to start the second half. Jaime Zamora was strong with a dozen stops and caught a pass on offense. Receiver Adrian Garza, who found the end zone for the second week in a row, bounced over to defense in the second half and broke up two passes at DB.
Duron continues to impress opposing coaches with his quickness and strength and for a guy who has not been playing American football for that long, he has tremendous instincts. Time and again Friday, El Senor was exploding off the line in sync with the snap count, flying to the football with a low center of gravity, and delivering vicious shots on the Panther skill people. He is having an MVP season, no question, and his kickoffs are touchbacks routinely, often rocketing clean out of the park. Force of nature.
That defense had its hands full with a Weslaco offense that has now produced at least 40 points in seven of eight games, including five in a row. Its overall quickness was a killer Friday, as Panther QB Jacob Cavazos continually ran for big yardage; he also threw well, amassing 200 through the air, and Weslaco as stated ran out to a big lead – 34-0 at one point – before its second unit came on and EHS gained some traction.
The ‘Cats have made the playoffs three years running but the streak is in jeopardy now. Econ, which was bombed 40-9 by East Friday, knows that it has to win to have a chance, seeing that the Jags are off the last week of the season. North appears to hold the cards right now and can clinch the spot by beating the Jags Thursday. A loss by the Coogs would mean they would go into the final day of the season needing to upset Weslaco to gain the elusive third victory.
Vela meanwhile erased Donna North Friday, 61-3, rising to 3-1 in district and 6-2 overall. The SaberCats meet EHS this week and then comes a showdown with Weslaco East on the final evening of the regular season. Some things are going to have to happen if they are to defend their title, i.e., an East victory over Weslaco this week, which would be pure tonic for that aspiration.