(Corpus Christi, Texas)-For the past twelve games, PSJA North head football coach Marcus Kaufmann knew that a showdown with 14-5A DI Corpus Christi Miller (10-2) was inevietable in 2022. He knew that the road to the UIL State 5A Division I title would have to go through Miller. On Friday night, the Raiders did go through the Buccaneers, winning 35-14 in the area championships at Cabaniss Field. “That was a very good football team we beat. We had a 21-point lead but that was not a safe mode. Our quarterback decided to take matters into his own hands,” said Kaufmann.

And that he did. PSJA North junior quarterback Ale Aparicio took matters into his own hands on Friday night by rushing for 250 yards on 15 carries and scored four touchdowns on runs from 3, 14, 39, including a beautiful 87-yard burst. In total, the Raiders rushed for an amazing 515 yards on 57 carries. Raiders RBs junior Jason Montes (21 carries 120 yards) and freshmen Ethan Guerra (16 carries 120 yards) also had big nights.

The Raiders defense did not back down as they forced a confused Miller team to four turnovers, including interceptions by DB Leroy Palacios and DB Andre Matamoros. Bucs QBs Jaedyn Brown and Trevor Long were rotated throughout the night, but the Raiders defense had their numbers as they were held to seven points scored in the first half. Both QBs had a combined 3,670 yards passing and 47 touchdowns entering Friday night. “We did a heck of a job. They are a high power-passing team. Our defensive line did their job tonight. This defensive is awesome,” added Kaufmann.

The win puts the Raiders (12-0) in the third of the state playoffs for the second time in two seasons and they will travel to play Brownsville Veterans (10-2) at Sams Stadium on Friday night with kick off set for 6:00 p.m. The Chargers are coming off a wild 74-59 win over Victoria West and the Raiders defense will have their eyes on fullback Bryan Chavez, who rushed for nine touchdowns. To date, he has 1,642 yards rushing for the season and in total, the Chargers, like the Raiders, have rushed for 4,973 yards this season. “Coach Kelley Lee is a very good coach. His team is well coached<” says Kaufmann.

By the numbers, both the Raiders and Chargers are somewhat identical on offense. The Chargers have outscored its opponents 588 to 195 while the Raiders defense has held its opponents to 107 points in 12 games and scored 533 points. The Raiders are averaging 45.0 points game while the Chargers are around 49.0 points per outing. The Raiders have recorded four shutout wins over Rio Grande City (57-0), LJ Juarez Lincoln (55-0), McAllen (55-0), PSJA (49-0) along with other wins over Donna (41-7) and McAllen Memorial (48-3).

The Raiders are impressive on defense too, as they have sacked their opponents quarterbacks 28 times this season, led by LB Mike Gonzales (9.0, 12 hurries) and DT Danny Garcia (4.5, 14 hurries). The Raiders have picked off their opponents seven times. In total, the Raiders have plagued their opponents with 900 tackles.

The Chargers look just as impressive too. DB Jaime Martinez leads the team with three interceptions to make up the the 13 interceptions the Chargers have notched this season and DT Christian De la Garza (6’2 275lbs) has seven quarterbacks sacks this season with 19 hurries. In total, the Chargers are lethal with 21 recorded quarterbacks sacks.

The winner will meet Corpus Christi Veterans (10-2) or McAllen (7-5) in the University Interscholastic League State 5A Division I Quarterfinals. Raiders head football coach Kaufmann talked about the next round and added, “we are not done.”

CC Miller WR Corey Holmes is tackled by PSJA North Steven Garza as Mike Gonzales comes in to assist on Friday night at Cabaniss Field in the 5A Division I Area finals. (HSSMImages/Ruiz)