Over the past 10 weeks, the PSJA North Raiders football team has looked nothing short of dominant on the field. Following a 30-0 trouncing of fellow Valley 5A district powerhouse rival, Edinburg Vela, there’s been absolutely no question who has been the best high school football team in Rio Grande Valley this year.
By the numbers, this season, their offense has put up 410 points for a whopping 45.6 points per game. While one might think this stat might be a bit pedestrian in today’s aerial-based, offense-driven game, it’s important to consider that the Raiders are a run-first offense. Of 472 offensive snaps, the Raiders have ran the ball 349 times (73.9%, or about 3 of every 4 snaps) and have averaged an astounding 334.3 rushing yards a game at 8.6 yards per carry. When you realize just how reliant they’ve been on their ground game, 45.6 ppg starts to look a lot more impressive.
–But it’s what the Raiders have done on the other side of the ball that has been absolutely mind-boggling.
In nine games, the Raiders’ defense has only given up a staggering 2.6 ppg having only given up 27 points all season to just two opponents (17 to Los Fresnos and 7 to McAllen Memorial). Of their nine total opponents this season, they’ve shut out seven of them.
From having several commitments onboard for UTRGV’s inaugural recruiting class, to sporting their own local viral sensation, this Raiders squad has certainly made their mark in Valley football history on and off the field with a fantastic regular season.
With just a week away from the opening of the state playoffs, several questions remain: How far can they REALLY go? Could this team join the likes of the 2003 PI Tarpons who 20 years ago made their miraculous state semi-final run? Could they be the first team since PSJA High (then “Pharr”) to reach the title game in 1963? Could they be the first team team to win a state title since Donna’s 1961 squad?
Round By Round
Bi-District – Likely matchup: Donna or Weslaco East
Not a chance they’re losing in the first round. W
Area – Likely matchup: Victoria East
Victoria East’s three losses have come by double digits but to great opponents. They’re 2nd in their district only to undefeated Corpus Christi Miller, but PSJA North will pull away by the 2nd half. W
Regional – Likely matchup: San Antonio Southwest
“Valley week” or “Valley weak,” depending on who you ask. This is where most Valley teams often find the end to their playoff journey, typically playing teams from San Antonio. However, Southwest and Southside haven’t exactly shown themselves to be the “SA boogeyman,” in recent years as both teams fell to lesser-regional competition last season. PSJA North rolls along here. W
State Quarterfinals – Likely matchup: Corpus Christi Miller
This is where the Raiders’ season ended last year in a 20-14 loss to Corpus Christi Veterans Memorial. This year, in their place, will stand a talented Miller squad that would be looking to avenge their 35-14 post-season area-round loss to the Raiders last season. The Buccaneers feature a balanced attack that has scored 53 ppg, having taken down powerhouse CC Veterans Memorial 59-40 earlier this season. This game will be close and the Raiders are, still, slightly favored in this game. W
State Semifinals – College Station or Fulshear
We’re in rare air here for a Valley team to be crowned Region 4 champs and make it this far; these Raiders might be the first team to accomplish this feat in 20 years. This is the first matchup where the Raiders would be facing an opponent ranked above them on MaxPreps. If they, somehow, are able to control the clock against College Station or Fulshear, there’s a slight chance they could pull off the upset. Unfortunately, I don’t see this happening with both College Station (last year’s state runner-up) and Fulshear (this year’s favorite to lose to juggernaut Aledo) just being too talented across the board. No shame in ending a great season among the state’s elite eight. L
State Final – Aledo
Unfortunately, no one is beating Aledo in this game. L