WESLACO — The Weslaco East Wildcats are set to make their 14th consecutive playoff appearance tonight, after finishing the regular season as District 16-5A Division I co-champions with a 4-0 record.
The Wildcats, however, aren’t satisfied with simply showing up to the party — their goal is to put together a playoff run.
Last season, Weslaco East went three deep into the 2019-20 Class 6A playoffs as the Wildcats beat Harlingen South 18-14 in the bi-district round and McAllen Rowe 31-10 in the area round, before losing to Austin Westlake 45-14 in the Region IV quarterfinals.
Now, the Wildcats are set to kick off another playoff run, this time in Class 5A.
The first challenge for Weslaco East this postseason is a bi-district matchup against the Victoria East Titans, the No. 4 seed from District 15-5A Division I.
Leading the Wildcats this season has been a loaded offense with playmakers all across the field. Most notable has been the addition of Avery Bowen, a senior athlete who transferred from Donna High over the summer.
The term athlete is fitting for Bowen because Weslaco East has lined up their Swiss Army knife of a football player all over the field, and he’s done the job with 244 passing yards, 509 rushing yards and 10 total touchdowns combined passing, rushing and receiving.
“I think (Avery’s) one of the best players in the Valley. He works hard, he never says a word,” Weslaco East head coach Mike Burget said. “I move him around from tailback to quarterback to receiver, he also plays defense which we haven’t seen yet; he’s a good team player.”
Bowen is far from the only worry opposing defenses have to think about.
Senior running back Gio Guerra has been one of the Rio Grande Valley’s toughest runners, averaging more than 11 yards per carry at 473 rushing yards and eight rushing touchdowns. When defenses focus on slowing Guerra and Bowen, that’s when quarterback Javi Garza, fullback/receiver Edward Villalobos and receiver Jay Vasquez do damage in the Wildcats’ overpowering offense which plays behind one of the Valley’s top offensive lines.
“Gio is Gio. That kid, for 140 pounds, he brings it every time,” Burget said. “Edward, the stuff that he does blocking has amazed me, I cannot say enough about the kid. Jay’s a little guy out there running tough. I think we have some weapons where we don’t depend on one guy.”
Weslaco East also has the benefit of not just depending on its offense to get the job done as the Strong Side defense has been the best unit in the RGV this season, allowing only 129 yards per game. Since giving up 34 points to Brownsville Pace in their season opener, the Wildcats have pitched two shutouts and held another opponent to just three points.
The Wildcats’ defense will now attempt to lock down a Victoria East Titans team that has gone 7-3 through the regular season and has rushed for 2,294 yards in a run-based offense.
Kickoff between the Weslaco East Wildcats and Victoria East Titans is slated for 7:30 tonight at Bobby Lackey Stadium in Weslaco. The winner will advance to the area round for a matchup against the winner between San Antonio Southwest (4-6, 4-2) and San Antonio Brackenridge (5-1, 4-0).