(Pharr, Texas)-Entering his sixth season, PSJA North High School head football coach Marcus Kaufmann talked about “unfinished business” from 2020 and turned his COVID-19 UIL playoff forfeit to San Antonio Taft into a third round University Interscholastic League Class 6A Division II Regional Championship finals against No.2 ranked Austin Westlake this season. At the Alamodome, the 31-6A Raiders (10-3) lost 56-0 to a much talented team but, Kaufmann was proud of his team’s success this season. “This group played lights out this season. Our seniors stepped it up and now, our underclassmen knows what it takes to get to this level,” added Kaufmann.
The Raiders had to make adjustments early on after sophomore quarterback Ale Aparicio suffered a collar bone injury during the Edinburg Vela-Raiders game on September 10th. “That was a freakish,” said Kaufmann. “We had to make adjustments and our team continued playing harder this season.” In fact, another sophomore took over to lead the Raiders into the state playoffs with an impressive 8-1 record. “Julius Arredondo did a great job leading our team. Both QBs will be back next season.” Kaufmann looked to RBs Issac Gonzalez (1,633 yards), Jack Lugo (1,084), and sophomore Jason Montez (930 yards) to get things moving on offense. In the playoffs, seniors Lugo and Gonzalez had great games. Against Harlingen South, Lugo rushed for six touchdowns while Gonzalez added 17 carries for 204 yards and one score. End result? Playoff wins over previously unbeaten 32-6A champions, Harlingen South (11-1) 56-26 and 30-6A champions Eagle Pass (8-4) 56-28.
From a playoff forfeit to key injuries, the Raiders overcame challenges and adversities. Raiders head football coach Marcus Kaufmann captures the 2021 High School Sports Magazine’s All-South Texas Football Coach of the Year Award. The award goes to the top head coach from the Rio Grande Valley. “It’s a great honor to give our team this recognition. Our coaching staff did a heck of job and I’m proud to receive it,” said Kaufmann.
In Class 6A, in his sixth season, John Campbell from Edinburg Vela High School gets the HSSM’s District 31-6A Coach of the Year honors while Harlingen South Israel Gonzalez captures the HSSM’s 32-6A Coach of the Year award. The Hawks finished 10-1 this season under first-year head coach, Gonzalez. The Hawks made it to the UIL State 6A DII playoffs before losing to PSJA North in the first round. The Vela Sabercats captured another 12-0 season before losing to Austin Vandegrift in the third round of the state playoffs.
In Class 5A, three teams finished in a three-way tie for coaching honors. Craig Krell led his Sharyland Rattlers (8-3) to the playoffs in his first season as a head football coach while Mission Veterans Dave Gilpin rebounded from a one-win season in 2020 to finished tied for first place in 16-5A DII playing all games on the road due to faulty stadium issues. The Rattlers shocked undefeated Mercedes, winning at Tigers Stadium 28-21 on October 8th. That win gave the Rattlers momentum to finish with four more straight wins to capture a share of the title.
For the Mercedes Tigers, they still had a banner year under head coach Roger Adame finishing 9-2 overall before losing to Boerne Champion 36-29. “We had two touchdowns called back in that playoff game,” says Adame. “That was heartbreaking.” The Tigers (9-2) featured senior quarterback Michael Cisneros (2,631 yards passing 30 Tds) along with RB Miguel Jimenez (822 yards), WR Tyrell Trevino (893 yards), and Joseph Rocha (762 yards). All three head football coaches captures the 16-5A DII Coach of the Year honors by HSSM.
Moving over to District 16-5A Division I, interim head coach, Moses Patterson led his McAllen Memorial Mustangs to the third round of the University Interscholastic League’s Regional Championships before falling to Corpus Christi Veterans last Saturday at Buccaneer Stadium. Patterson took over the program after former head coach Bill Littleton resigned. Patterson is HSSM’s 16-5A DI Coach of the Year. “I’m still the interim head coach and they will be opening up this job. It’s a tremendous opportunity and honor. This award goes to our team,” says Patterson.
In District 16-4A Division I, Oscar Salinas gets the 16-4A DI HSSM Coach of the Year honors after leading his La Feria Lions to a perfect 4-0 record and 7-2 overall. The Lions lost in the first round of the state playoffs to 15-4A DI Beeville Jones 42-35.
In District 16-4A DII, Port Isabel head football coach, Tony Villarreal led his Tarpons (8-4) to the second round of the UIL State 4A DII playoffs, including a Bi-District title win over previously unbeaten Carrizo Springs. “We were young and this year was challenging. In August, we had only 15 players listed on the roster but our community and coaches came together to bring our players back,” says Villarreal. The Tarpons played only one game last year due to COVID-19 and Villarreal found a way to keep his team together during the pandemic season. “It was tough but we had a lot of ZOOM meetings with our players and staff. We adjusted to our situation,” says Villarreal. “We played eight games on the road too.” All four 16-4A DII playoff teams (Sinton, Ingleside, Rockport-Fulton, and Port Isabel ) made it to the second round of the UIL State 4A DII playoffs. Villarreal gets HSSM’s 16-4A DII Coach of the Year honors. “I appreciated this and our district has a lot of competition and this is a great job,” says Villarreal. “I’m humbled. This was a magical season.”
In District 16-2A DI, the La Villa Cardinals (9-3) won the outright district title and then went on to win the bi-district title under head coach Danny Perez. “This is all about the players and our community,” says Perez. The Cardinals outscored their opponents 422-178 with shutout wins over Monte Alto (34-0), Santa Maria (46-0), Kaufer (41-0), and Ben Bolt (42-0). The Cardinals also won four more games, allowing only less than seven points scored each against those teams. (HSSMImages)