The No. 1-ranked Harlingen Cardinals kick off the 2016 high school football season with a bang as they host the Mission Veterans Patriots on Thursday in the Valley Morning Star’s Game of the Week.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Boggus Stadium.
The Cardinals, who return a bevy of talent including running back Leo Tienda, were the unanimous preseason No. 1 pick in the RGVSports.com Top 10 poll.
However, Mission Veterans is no slouch and is ranked No. 10 in the poll thanks to the return of quarterback Diego Hernandez as well as Landry Gilpin, Ramon De Leon and Jacob Guerrero.
The last time the Cardinals faced a team from a lower classification in non-district action was in 2008 and 2009 when they played Edcouch-Elsa. The Cards fell to the Yellowjackets at home 17-14 in 2008, but returned the favor the following year by thumping La Maquina Amarilla 35-3 at the Black Hole.
Other key Week 1 games, include: San Benito at Laredo United, McAllen at Harlingen South, Edcouch-Elsa at Los Fresnos, Calallen at Mercedes, Rio Hondo at Sinton, Raymondville at La Feria and Richmond George Ranch at Weslaco.
Like the Cards, the San Benito Greyhounds kick off the new season on a Thursday night as they make the long trip to Laredo to take on the United Longhorns.
The ’Hounds may have lost a lot of talent during the offseason, but in a scrimmage last week against McAllen High, they looked sharp in a 56-0 rout.
Moving on to Friday, the Harlingen South Hawks officially open the Brian Ricci era when the Hawks host the very same Bulldogs that San Benito beat.
Ricci takes over as the Hawks’ new head man after leaving his post as offensive coordinator at Richmond George Ranch, which won the 2015 Class 5A Division I state title.
Coincidentally, Richmond George Ranch, which moved up to Class 6A during the offseason, is at Weslaco High on Friday night.
WEEK 1 SCHEDULE
-Mission Veterans at Harlingen, 7 p.m.
-San Benito at Laredo United, 7 p.m.
-Bro. Hanna at Economedes, 7 p.m.
-Bro. Rivera vs. Bro. Porter, 7 p.m.
-La Joya at Rio Grande City, 7 p.m.
-Sharyland Pioneer at McAllen Mem., 7 p.m.
-Bro. Pace at PSJA Southwest, 7 p.m.
-McAllen at Harlingen South, 7:30 p.m.
-George Ranch at Weslaco, 7:30 p.m.
-Edcouch-Elsa at Los Fresnos, 7:30 p.m.
-Calallen at Mercedes, 7:30 p.m.
-Santa Rosa at Hidalgo, 7:30 p.m.
-Rio Hondo at Sinton, 7:30 p.m.
-Raymondville at La Feria, 7:30 p.m.
-Progreso at Lyford, 7:30 p.m.
-Santa Maria at MMA, 7:30 p.m.
-Weslaco East at Sharyland, 7:30 p.m.
-Port Isabel at Bro. Lopez, 7:30 p.m.
-Riviera at La Villa, 7:30 p.m.
-PSJA Memorial at Juarez-Lincoln, 7:30 p.m.
-La Joya Palmview at Roma, 7:30 p.m.
-Edinburg at McAllen Rowe, 7:30 p.m.
-PSJA North at Mission, 7:30 p.m.
-Edinburg North at Brownsville Veterans, 7:30 p.m. (Veterans HS)
-Edinburg Vela at Victoria East, 7:30 p.m.
-Donna North at PSJA, 7:30 p.m.
-Valley View at Donna, 7:30 p.m.
-Laredo Cigarroa at Zapata, 7:30 p.m.
-Bro. St. Joseph at Grulla, 7:30 p.m.