When Port Isabel and Zapata meet Friday, it will be like looking into a mirror.
That’s because both the Tarpons and Hawks feature high-caliber rushing attacks that only pass when necessary. And each has a defense that will be focused on primary stopping the run.
In other words, if you’re a big fan of passing, this is not the game for you.
“We’re going to run the football, it’s what we do,” Port Isabel coach Monty Stumbaugh said. “It helps set up the pass. We would like to throw more, but lately we haven’t had to.”
Port Isabel running game features a trio of talented running backs, each capable of breaking tackles and sprinting down the sideline. Jaime Gonzalez, Juan Aguilera and Jacob Losoya have already accounted for 1,213 yards on the ground and 16 touchdowns and each boasts a double digit yards per carry average.
If that wasn’t enough, quarterback Isaiah Martinez is equally as dangerous running the football adding 366 yards and four touchdowns to the Tarpons rushing totals. And though he has just 257 passing yards to his credit, he has completed 16 of 26 passes (nearly a 62 percent completion rate) with an interception and three touchdowns.
But Zapata is very similar to the Tarpons.
The Hawks have the top runner in District 31-3A, senior Miguel Alvarez, who has already rushed for 693 yards on 96 carries and has scored seven touchdowns through five games. Alvarez has rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of his past two varsity seasons.
Junior quarterback Raul Ruiz has thrown for 210 yards, but has been very efficient. Ruiz has completed 12 of 24 passes, no interceptions and a touchdown (thrown to Alvarez) and a 50 percent completion rate.
Stumbaugh is very familiar with Alverez after facing him and the Hawks the last two seasons.
“He has started since he was a sophomore and he was good, but may be even better as a senior,” Stumbaugh said. “He’s a game breaker. If you miss, he’s going to go and we haven’t caught him yet. We have to try and contain him.”
Defensively, the Tarpons know what they have to do, but Stumbaugh warned they cannot only keep an eye on the running game in the Zapata slot ‘T’ offense.
“We have to be able to slow them down. They want to pound the ball and keep (your offense) off the field,” he said. “We have to stop their run. They run a lot of misdirection, so we will need to read our keys and beware of the pass. We’ve got our work cut out for us.”
With District 32-3A starting a week from today, Stumbaugh would like to see improvements made during its last non-district contest.
“We need to polish up some things before we start district,” he said. “We want to win, but make sure to get some of the kinks out. I think it’s important to go into district with a win and that momentum.”