(Pharr, Texas)- High School Sports Magazine celebrates it’s 30th Anniversary on the sidelines with the annual Rio Grande Valley Football Preview! “Looking back, I can remember when Mission HS head football coach Sonny Detmer appeared on our cover sporting his son Koy Detmer at his Longhorn Ranch,” says HSSM Publisher/Sports Director, David “Tddave” Amador. “It was coaches like the late Detmer, who made this game of football special on Friday nights.”

   Thirty-Years Later, HSSM visited every high school from the Rio Grande Valley and took photos inside their football weight room facilities to kickoff the 2023 RGV Football Preview

   Here are the HSSM Predictions on how each team will finish beginning with last season’s University Interscholastic League State 5A Division I PSJA North Raiders. “We should have beaten Corpus Christi Veterans,” says PSJA North High School head football coach, Marcus Kaufmann. “We had our chances.” 

   After their 20-14 loss in the 2022 Class 5A Division I Quarterfinals, those words and thoughts still lingers in the minds of every player and coach on the 2023 Raiders team. 

   In 2022, Raiders entered District 15-5A DI with a perfect 3-0 non-conference record and continued their onslaught with convincing district wins over McAllen (55-0) and Edinburg Vela (28-21) to win the outright title. In the playoffs, the Raiders posted wins over Donna, CC Miller, Brownsville Veterans, before losing to the Eagles. 

   Kaufmann likes his chances of returning to the state quarterfinals with a nucleus herd of running backs, including a four-year starting quarterback, Ale Aparicio (committed to UTRGV). Running backs, 

sophomore Ethan Guerra (1,105 yards), seniors Jaden Fuentes (735 yards) and Jason Montes (1,711 yards) all return to make a run in 2023. So, which teams will challenge the Raiders in 2023? “We will be the team that our opponents would love to beat in 2023,” says Kaufmann. “That’s why we must play hit-you-the-mouth football on gamedays.”

Like the PSJA North Raiders, the defending 32-6A Harlingen Cardinals and runner-ups, San Benito Greyhounds both advanced to the third round of the University Interscholastic League Class 6A playoffs. Also making a third round appearance in Class 5A, were the 16-5A DI  Tri-Champs, Brownsville Veterans Memorial Chargers and the fourth place 15-5A Division I McAllen Bulldogs. Expect the Greyhounds, Chargers, and Bulldogs to compete for the district titles.

Moving over to District 15-5A Division II, talk about routs. The UIL realigned this district by adding Flour Bluff and Gregory-Portland along with Brownsville Porter, Valley View, Mercedes, and Edcouch-Elsa. Both new squads powered over all four RGV teams and went on to meet for the district title with Flour Bluff defeating Gregory-Portland 36-34. The Hornets advanced to the UIL State 5A DII Quarterfinals before losing to Liberty Hill 63-43. Both teams will return two junior quarterbacks. The Hornets, favored to win the District 15-5A DII title again, will return junior 6’2 Jayden Paluseo (42 TDs 3,120 yards passing, 317 yards rushing) while the Wildcats will see 6’1 junior Reed Dooms (2,388 yards passing 30 TDs). Mercedes and Edccouch-Elsa will get the nod to make the playoffs once again.

   In District 16-5A DII, the Sharyland Rattlers  won the outright title under head coach Craig Krell while Pioneer finished second and Mission Veterans and Roma tied for third place. Six-foot-two Bo Krell returns at quarterback for the Rattlers after passing for more than 1,600 yards. The real question? Will the Rattlers be balanced on both sides of the ball after graduating key spots. 

   Another question, will sister school Pioneer make the playoffs in 2023? Returning for the Diamondbacks is 5’11 standout quarterback Julian Valdez. He passed for 2,872 yards and 27 touchdowns. He also rushed 176 times for 893 yards. These carries cost the junior several concussions that kept him sidelined. Teams to watch are Mission Veterans, PSJA Memorial, and Roma.  

   In Class 4A, the Port Isabel Tarpons will be the team to watch as head coach Tony Villarreal 

returns. The Tarpons have made back-to-back Class 4A DII Area Championship appearances and this year, the Tarpons could find themselves moving up a few steps closer to a possible state title.

   And of course, the Rio Hondo Bobcats returns as the defending co-championsin District 16-3A DI under head coach, Rocky James and they will be picked to finish first in district along with two-time defending champions, 16-2A DI La Villa HS (8-3) coached by Danny Perez followed by Santa Maria HS (7-4) and Israel Gracia.