By Pete Banda
We’re less than halfway through the football season and both San Benito and Los Fresnos are already preparing for arguably the toughest matchup of their seasons. The Falcons are coming off a tough loss, one in which they gave up the lead in the final minutes of the game. The Greyhounds, however, are coming into the game fresh as they had a bye week last Friday. If history tells us anything, this game will go a long way in determining a champion in District 32-6A.
Although both teams are considered premier programs in the Valley, they have vastly different make ups.
San Benito is an offensive juggernaut, averaging a whopping 468 yards of offense and over 43 points per game. Led by junior quarterback Erick Retta, who has a Valley leading 738 yards passing, and junior transfer running back Tyrone Harper, who has accounted over 300 total yards, this Greyhound offense is one of the most complete in recent years.
“It definitely takes some of the pressure off us knowing that our offense can go out there and get the job done and put points on the board,” said senior linebacker Richard Moreno. “Our goal as a defense is always to shut out our opponents, but it definitely makes things easier when the offense is scoring 40 points a game.”
The defense is no slouch either though, allowing only 18 point per game while racking up a total of 16 sacks and eight turnovers. Led by a stellar linebacker corps that includes Moreno, Emilio Garza and Skylar Garcia, the Greyhound defense is nothing short of imposing.
The Los Fresnos offense, while explosive in their own right, centers around one player. Quarterback Mark Mata accounts for over 81% of the Falcons offense and 10 total touchdowns. He also serves as the team’s punter.
“(Mata’s) a great athlete and a great leader,” said senior safety Alex Garcia. “He wasn’t really talked about coming into the season, but I think he’s established himself as one of the top players on the Valley.”
For the Falcons to come out victorious, Mata will have to perform the way he did in the first two weeks of the season, when he averaged 253 yards on the ground and 90 yards through the air. He also scored all but one of his touchdowns in the first two games of the season. As a team, Los Fresnos averages 365 yards of total offense and 39 points per game.
The Falcon defense is not as stout as San Benito’s, as they surrender more than 28 points per game. Despite a few standout individual performers, Los Fresnos has somewhat underperformed on defense, accounting for only two sacks and two forced turnovers on the year. Against the high octane offense of San Benito, that won’t be enough to win the game.
With Both San Benito and Los Fresnos finishing as co-district champs in back-to-back seasons, the winner of this game will not only start off district play with a 1-0 record, they will own a potential tiebreaker victory. Retta and Harper could have a field day with the underwhelming Falcon defense, but don’t count out Mata and company. One thing’s for sure, the sold out crowd at Leo Aguilar stadium is in for one of the most exciting games in all of Valley football on Friday night.