On the prowl

Del Rio Rams linebacker Jesus De Luna (42) looks to make a stop against Southwest Legacy during Del Rio's season opener. De Luna had two interceptions against the Laredo United Longhorns.

Del Rio should be 2-0 in district play.

The Rams forced three turnovers against the Laredo United Longhorns, killing at least two potential scoring drives, and yet Del Rio was unable to cash in on two of those turnovers and wound up on the wrong side of a 20-13 finale.

The loss to United was the eighth straight loss by the Rams to the Longhorns, but the seven-point margin of defeat was the closest since Del Rio lost by 18 points to United in 2016. The average margin of victory for United during the streak prior to the Rams’ showing last week – 34.8 points.

But that was last week. This week, the Rams host the Laredo Nixon Mustangs for Del Rio’s annual homecoming game and the Rams have a strong chance to go to 2-1 in district play.

Nixon is 0-3 on the season and aside from a 44-40 loss to Laredo Alexander in the season opener for both teams, the Mustangs have lost by double digits in their other losses. Nixon lost by 15 points to the United South Panthers and 19 points to the Eagle Pass Eagles.

The Mustangs run a triple option, relying on the speed of their backfield to carry them to wins. How much of a difference is there in the Mustangs’ passing offense versus its rushing offense? According to MaxPreps, the Mustangs’ Austin Garcia has attempted just 30 passes and completed 20 of them for 158 yards and zero touchdowns. As a team, Nixon has rushed 140 times for 778 yards and 10 touchdowns.

What does it all mean? Stop the Mustangs run and you win the game. That’s it.

Stopping the run isn’t as easy as it seems, though. That triple option allows for a lot of misdirection, confusing formations and a bevy of chances to break loose for a big gain.

Ricky Navarro is the leader of the pack for Nixon. He is second on the team in carries, but leads the team in rushing yards (366), yards per carry (10.5), yards per game (122) and touchdowns (5). Navarro is also the team leader in receptions (6) and yards (69).

Navarro is joined Pablo Tovar, who has rushed for 204 yards and a score in three games.

Defensively, the Mustangs don’t force many turnovers. They have just one interception and have forced just one fumble in three games. That doesn’t mean they can’t, it just means the chances haven’t been there.

The Rams were about as solid as a team could be in the loss to United.

Offensively, Del Rio had 200 yards of total offense. Quarterback Victor Medina was consistent, going 14-for-22 for 135 yards but did not throw an interception. He connected with six different receivers with running back Aiden Huerta getting most of the attention with four catches for 23 yards.

Huerta was also the leading rusher for the Rams, going for 40 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams also figured out the penalty issue. Del Rio was flagged just three times, all false start penalties, for 15 yards total.

The biggest part of Del Rio’s ability to hang with United was the defense. The Rams had five sacks, including three by Alejandro De Luna, and forced three turnovers, including two interceptions by Jesus De Luna, and never really let United get into a rhythm. That’s what Del Rio will need to continue when they face Nixon this Friday.

Friday night’s game will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Walter Levermann Ram Stadium. Tickets are sold out, but you can watch the game online through the official KWMC 1490 channel on YouTube.