The Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks and Weslaco East Wildcats will attempt to make back-to-back appearances in the third round of the UIL playoffs, but in order to do so, they’ll have to go through San Antonio.

Both the Diamondbacks and Wildcats are set to make the trip to San Antonio today for second-round playoff matchups against Marble Falls for Pioneer, and against San Antonio Southwest for Weslaco East.

WESLACO EAST VS. SAN ANTONIO SOUTHWEST

The Wildcats punched their ticket to the area round by earning a hard-fought 26-23 victory over Victoria East in the opening round.

As Victoria East attempted to rally late, the Wildcats’ defense held strong and forced a turnover on downs, which secured the victory and extended Weslaco East’s season.

“They’ve been like that for 13 years since I’ve been at East. Our defense under coach (Rene) Guzman and his assistant coaches do a great job and always have,” Weslaco East head coach Mike Burget said. “We’re always one of the best defenses in South Texas and I’m very proud of them, and the kids, they love to hit at East.”

The Wildcats’ defense ranks No. 2 in the RGV, allowing less than 175 yards per game to opposing offenses. But with an area-round playoff matchup against San Antonio Southwest on deck, it’s another tough test for the Weslaco East defense.

The biggest challenge against Southwest will be slowing Dragons senior running back Andre Mitchell. In 11 games this season, Mitchell has run for 1,332 yards and 15 touchdowns, while adding 208 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns.

Weslaco East and San Antonio Southwest are set for a 6 p.m. kickoff at Dub Farris Field in San Antonio.

SHARYLAND PIONEER VS. MARBLE FALLS

Averaging 563.3 yards per game, the Sharyland Pioneer Diamondbacks own the top offense in Class 5A, and are the No. 2-ranked offense in Texas among any classification.

Pioneer dual-threat quarterback Eddie Lee Marburger, who recently signed to play for UTSA, spearheads the Diamondbacks’ air raid attack. In six games this season, the Pioneer gunslinger has thrown for 2,055 yards and 21 touchdowns, while also running for 740 yards and 16 rushing touchdowns.

Marburger credits Pioneer offensive coordinator/quarterback coach Eddie Galindo for being the mind behind the Diamondbacks’ top-ranked offense.

“He’s probably one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. It’s the way he gets things done, we practice perfection and if it’s not perfect we’re going again,” Marburger said before the season about Galindo. “I pay attention to those little things he does, and it’s part of the reason why we’re a good team. He’s probably the best play-caller in the Valley, in my opinion.”

Meanwhile, Marble Falls, the Diamondbacks’ area-round opponent, brings a complete opposite approach on the offensive side of the ball.

The Marble Falls Mustangs (7-2, 4-2) run the Slot-T offense, a devastating rushing scheme which uses a combination of power and misdirection to fool opposing defenses.

The contrast will be an interesting matchup to watch as Marble Falls aims to put together lengthy drives while limiting opportunities for opponents. But, Pioneer has proven to be capable of scoring on one-play touchdown drives, or methodically driving downfield before ending up in the end zone.

Kickoff between Sharyland Pioneer and Marble Falls is slated for 7:30 tonight at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio.

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