Now the real games begin!
After four non-district games, the Del Rio Rams football team returns to action tonight as they take that long trip south to Laredo to take on the defending District 29-6A champions Laredo United Longhorns.
Kick-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Bill Johnson Student Activity Complex, aka the SAC.
While the Rams (0-4) come into tonight’s game still seeking their first win under new head coach Roderick Taylor, the Longhorns (4-1) enter on a four-game winning streak. United’s only loss this season came in the first game of the season as they dropped a high-scoring affair to Edinburg Vela, 51-46, on the road.
Since that loss, United has defeated Alamo Heights (42-14), San Marcos (28-23), San Benito (45-37) and Eagle Pass in the district opener for both teams.
United never trailed in its win over Eagle Pass. The Longhorns led 14-7 at halftime, but outscored Eagle Pass 28-21 in the second half to roll to a 42-28 win.
Keying the Longhorns offense is senior Eduardo Huerta. He threw for 232 yards and four scores against the Eagles. Three of his touchdowns went to senior Ricky Chapa, who caught four passes for 97 yards. Chapa has been the second biggest recipient of Huerta’s targets, catching 22 balls for 370 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s scored in every one of United’s games this season.
Huerta’s favorite target this season has been Tanner Sanchez. Sanchez, a junior, leads the Longhorns with 30 catches for 466 yards, and he’s second on the team with eight touchdowns.
Huerta has been consistent all year. He’s averaging just under 300 yards per game passing. He’s thrown 20 touchdowns against just one interception and he’s completing 66 percent of his passes. He’s also rushed for two scores.
But it wasn’t just Huerta doing the damage for the Longhorns offense. Junior running back Carlos Jaime carried the ball 18 times for 204 yards and two touchdowns. Jaime has six scores this season, five rushing and one receiving, and is averaging 104 yards rushing per game. He has also caught 13 passes for 172 yards including 123 yards in the win against Alamo Heights.
Defensively against Eagle Pass, United was led by Hector Benavides, who had nine tackles for the second straight game and recovered a fumble for the Longhorns; Matthew Delgado and Juan Gonzalez, who each had a sack; and Luis Gonzalez, who recorded an interception.
Benavides is United’s leading tackler, but Delgado is the leader when it comes to sacks. Though he has just three sacks to lead the Longhorns, he also has 10 hurries which means he’s no stranger to getting to the quarterback.
Del Rio has had 12 days to practice and heal up since its last game, a 28-21 loss to Northside Harlan. Those little aches and pains should be gone and those players whose injuries were enough to keep them out of non-district action should be back and ready to go.
The Rams seemed to turn a page against Harlan, grabbing a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The offense struggled after that, but put together one more big drive to cut the deficit to just one score in the fourth quarter.
If the Rams can grab that momentum early and keep that offense humming, and of course limit turnovers and penalties, Del Rio could pull the shocker against a team that has had the Rams’ number in recent years.