HARLINGEN – The Brian Ricci era at Harlingen South began on a high note last Friday after the Hawks pounded out a gritty 21-14 home victory over McAllen High.
The Hawks were led by a balanced rushing attack that used four different ball carriers to grind out 217 yards and all three touchdowns. Senior running back Adrian Torres accounted for 88 of those yards on 10 carries while junior RB Jorge Alicea touched the ball 11 times for 59 yards and two scores, including the game’s first on the Hawks’ opening drive.
Meanwhile, senior quarterback Brandon Villarreal was solid and steady going 4 for 5 for 81 yards with no interceptions.
But it was the Hawks’ defense that was truly impressive as they held the Bulldogs to just 184 yards of total offense, giving up one rushing TD late in the first half and a short passing score midway through the fourth quarter. Sophomore Derrick Delgado was particularly impressive as he had nine total tackles on the night, including eight solo.
“I was very pleased with the defense. I was pleased with the whole team,” said Hawks head coach Ricci. “Still, when you watch the film you see that we still have a lot of things we need to work on. We need to commit fewer penalties, tackle better and just clean things up more. We’re happy with the win, but we’re not where we want to be just yet.”
If the Hawks hope to win their first two games of the season – which the program hasn’t done since 2013 – they’ll have to contend today with a PSJA High squad that gutted out 430 rushing yards in a 36-33 season-opening win over Donna North.
Sophomore QB Trey Guajardo led the way for the Bears by rushing for 225 yards on 22 carries for three TDs. Junior running back Joachim Almaguer was also solid as he had 16 touches for 113 yards and two more scores.
The victory was key for the Bears, who struggled last season and won just one game. But fourth-year head coach Steve Marroquin was pleased with last Friday’s win and believes it’s reason for optimism.
“I was most pleased with the effort my team gave in the win,” Marroquin said. “They played hard all the way through and were tenacious for 48 minutes.
“We’re excited to take on South now. They are a good team that is well coached. They’ll be a challenge, but we’re just going to go back to fundamentals and do our best to try and stop them.”
While tonight’s contest looks to be a battle of ground attacks, Ricci said that may not be the case.
“What we run offensively will depend on what’s working on any given night,” he said. “The run worked for us against McHi, but that doesn’t mean we won’t pass if the situation presents itself.”
The Hawks and Bears face off at 7 tonight at Boggus Stadium in Harlingen.
“We’re fortunate to have back-to-back home games, especially since it was a short week,” Ricci said.