While football fans have become accustomed to Harlingen and Harlingen South facing each other toward the end of the regular season, this year the rivalry actually kicks off the district season.
On Friday, the Cardinals and Hawks duel in Bird Bowl XXIV in the Valley Morning Star’s Game of the Week as well as Fox Sports Southwest’s DQ Big Game of the Week. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Boggus Stadium in Harlingen.
While the battle between the two intracity rivals is always highly anticipated by the community, this year’s contest is made sweeter by the fact that not only is it so early in the season, but also that the Hawks come in with the better record for a change.
The Hawks enter Friday’s contest a perfect 3-0 after wins over McAllen High, PSJA High and Edinburg North.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals, who are ranked No. 7 in the Valley, come in with a 1-2 mark. After blowing out Class 5A Mission Veterans in Week 1, the Red Birds fell to Laredo United South in Week 2 and then lost at San Antonio Reagan 41-7 in Week 3.
Regardless of their current mark, the Cards own the Bird Bowl series 19-4 and have won the last eight in a row, including a 20-0 shutout last year. The last time the Hawks beat the Cardinals was in 2007. Their other three wins came in 2006, and back-to-back wins in 1998 and 1999, when the Green Birds squeaked out a 17-14 victory.
The Bird Bowl isn’t the only big rivalry game on the schedule for Week 5. On Friday in Weslaco, the Panthers (2-1) and Wildcats (2-1) battle for Mid-Valley supremacy in their District 32-6A opener.
After opening up the season with a disappointing loss to defending Class 5A state champion Richmond George Ranch, the Panthers have rattled off wins against San Antonio Marshall and Mercedes.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats opened the season with back-to-back wins over Sharyland and McAllen Memorial, but fell to Edinburg Economedes in Week 3, 23-16.
Continuing in District 32-6A, the Valley’s top-ranked San Benito Greyhounds (3-0) begin the league loop at No. 4 Los Fresnos (2-1), which narrowly lost this past Friday to McAllen Memorial, 32-30.
In District 32-5A, the Mercedes Tigers (0-3) will look for their first win of the season when they host Donna (1-2). The Tigers had a rough non-district schedule and came up short against Calallen, McAllen Rowe and Weslaco.
While the bigger schools are now getting into conference play, sub-5A teams continue to battle it out in non-district play. And one of the biggest games this weekend pits Port Isabel (4-0) against Brownsville St. Joseph (4-0)
The Tarpons enter Friday’s contest after an impressive 35-21 win over La Feria last week. Meanwhile, the Bloodhounds come in equally red hot after solid wins over Grulla, Lyford, Rio Hondo and, most recently, Raymondville.
Other key games this week include: La Feria (3-1) at Santa Rosa (2-2) in the annual Battle of FM 506; Lyford (2-2) at La Villa (0-4); Grulla (2-2) at Rio Hondo (2-2); and Kingsville King (2-2) at Raymondville (0-4).
BIRD BOWL RESULTS
The following are the past Bird Bowl results between the Harlingen Cardinals and Harlingen South Hawks. Harlingen leads the all-time series 19-4.
Bird Bowl I Harlingen 13, South 12 (1993)
Bird Bowl II: Harlingen 25, South 22 (1994)
Bird Bowl III Harlingen 29, South 0 (1995)
Bird Bowl IV Harlingen 14, South 7 (1996)
Bird Bowl V Harlingen 48, South 14 (1997)
Bird Bowl VI South 35, Harlingen 14 (1998)
Bird Bowl VII South 17, Harlingen 14 (1999)
Bird Bowl VIII Harlingen 35, South 21 (2000)
Bird Bowl IX Harlingen 42, South 17 (2001)
Bird Bowl X Harlingen 26, South 22 (2002)
Bird Bowl XI Harlingen 31, South 28 (2003)
Bird Bowl XII Harlingen 42, South 26 (2004)
Bird Bowl XIII Harlingen 52, South 36 (2005)
Bird Bowl XIV South 17, Harlingen 6 (2006)
Bird Bowl XV South 21, Harlingen 7 (2007)
Bird Bowl XVI Harlingen 54, South 7 (2008)
Bird Bowl XVII Harlingen 66, South 7 (2009)
Bird Bowl XVIII Harlingen 75, South 21 (2010)
Bird Bowl XIX Harlingen 69, South 7 (2011)
Bird Bowl XX Harlingen 38, South 23 (2012)
Bird Bowl XXI Harlingen 21, South 14 (2013)
Bird Bowl XXII Harlingen 21, South 3 (2014)
Bird Bowl XXIII Harlingen 20, South 0 (2015)