(McAllen, Texas)-Yes, it’s been 22-years since the McAllen Bulldogs has ventured this far in the University Interscholastic League Football playoffs. Call them, “who let these dogs out.” These Bulldogs could move into the UIL State 5A DI Quarterfinals too.

Here’s why. The McAllen Bulldogs, since January 1, 2022, had no clue what was going to happen in the 2022 Football Season. After all, it was a newly realigned district, moving from 16-5ADI to 15-5A DI, and worst, the McAllen Bulldogs were aligned with powerhouses Edinburg Vela, PSJA North, and McAllen Memorial. All three had advanced to the third round the previous season. “This is crazy,” said McAllen HS head football, Patrick Shelby. “We are playing on Thanksgiving Weekend.” Those we’re the words of the fourth-year head football coach, entering his second straight year in the UIL playoffs.

The Bulldogs made changes. Junior quarterback Nathan Rocha was the projected starting QB, but after two games, Shelby made the call to move up sophomore QB Joaquin Valdez and switch Rocha to defensive back. The move was perfect. Both players have made impacts in their new positions.

This is not the same Bulldog team from January 1st. They have grown and matured. On the front line, offensively, the Bulldogs are huge with players like OT AJ Cerda 6’2, OT 6’3 Arad Palafox, Maddox Braxton 6’4, and OT 6’4 Arian Villarreal. At WRs, 6’2 Mason Cantu, WR 6’1 Max Alvarez, and 6’1 Christian Echazarreta are the go-to-players that could keep the Eagles busy on Friday afternoon.

On Defense, called them the “Dog pound”. They are hungry and have been unbelievable with defensive head coach, Ernie Alonzo. For the past four games, with wins over McAllen Nikki Rowe, McAllen Memorial, Harlingen South and SA Southside, the Bulldogs have held their opponents to 13.0 points per game, including a second round playoff shutout against Southside 21-0. They are led by SS 6’0 Derrick White, DB Nathan Rocha, DT 6’3 Salamon Arroyo, and DT 6’2 Heriberto Baleras.

The Bulldogs will have to stop Eagles QB Elijah Durrette (2,695 passing yards 608 yards rushing), RB Jayden Castaneda (1,060 yards rushing), and WR Alejandro Guerrero (810 rec yards). The Eagles lost to Flour Bluff in the fourth round of the state playoffs in 2021.

The McAllen Bulldogs will play host to Corpus Christi Veterans at McAllen Veterans Memorial Stadium on Friday at 2:00 p.m. with the winner playing PSJA North (12-0) or Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers (10-2), yes, in the UIL State 5A DI Quarterfinals next weekend. HSSM picks Bulldogs by 10. (HSSMImages)

McAllen Bulldogs 7-5

Regular Season

Edinburg 21-13 Lost

Mission 26-7 Won

Mercedes 47-38 Lost

PSJA North 55-0 Lost

Rio Grande City 55-14 Won

LJ Juarez-Lincoln 51-7 Won

Edinburg Vela 59-7 Lost

LJ Palmview 31-30 Lost

McAllen Rowe 40-21 Won

McAllen Memorial 27-14 Won

UIL State 5A DI Playoffs

Bi-District Harlingen South 24-15 Won

Area Championships SA Southside 21-0 Won

Regional Championships CC Veterans