While the 2016 San Benito Greyhounds were most noted for having a high-powered offense, the team’s defense was also one of the Valley’s best all season long.
And one of the biggest reasons for the squad’s stopping power was senior linebacker Emilio Garza.
This season he had 115 total tackles, averaged 10.5 tackles per game, had six sacks and recovered three fumbles.
His defensive prowess was solid enough to earn him a spot on the AP all-state team and also the Valley Morning Star’s All-Star squad where he was named the Defensive Player of the Year.
Q: Congratulations on being named the Valley Morning Star’s All-Star Defensive Player of the Year. What does this accolade mean to you?
A: It makes me feel proud and accomplished. I always made sure to work diligently and it has truly paid off. I am so grateful to receive this award.
Q: You made the all-state team as well. How did that make you feel?
A: I feel proud and honored to receive this award as well.
Q: Talk a little about this past football season. Did it surprise you at how well the team did even though the program had lost so much talent after the 2015 season?
A: It wasn’t much of a surprise. Our team was always working hard, not only during the season but also in offseason and that’s what makes the difference.
Q: What moment from this past season stands out most to you?
A: The game against Harlingen South stood out most to me. I played well defensively.
Q: What game stands out most?
A: The game against Los Fresnos because they gave us good competition. It was a close game, but we kept fighting and came out on top.
Q: Which team was the toughest team you faced this season?
A: Laredo United. (San Benito opened the season with Laredo United and won 47-21.)
Q: Talk a little about the Battle of the Arroyo. What was it like playing in that game?
A: It was an exciting game. It’s a feeling I cannot explain.
Q: Did losing that game affect the team’s chemistry heading into the playoffs? Was it hard to refocus afterward?
A: No, it made us push harder. We were focused more than ever after that loss.
Q: How disappointing was it losing in the second round of the playoffs knowing that you had been able to go to the third round the season before?
A: It was disappointing. I knew we could’ve gone further, but we came up short that game (against Laredo United South).
Q: What is it like playing for Coach Daniel Gomez? What type of coach is he?
A: He’s always motivated us to do our best, not only on the field but off. It was more than just football to him. He taught us life lessons like responsibility and leadership.
Q: How did you, personally, prepare for games? Did you have a certain routine you would follow before taking the field?
A: I would get mentally focused and will go through plays in my head.
Q: Reflect on your years at San Benito High School. What will you miss most?
A: Football because it’s always been a part of my life.
Q: What would you like your future career to be?
A: Have my own welding company.
Q: If you couldn’t play football, what sport would you play?
Q: Who is your favorite professional athlete? Why?
A: Ray Lewis because I loved the way he played the game with a passion.
Q: If someone were to describe your style of play, what professional athlete do you think they would compare you to?
A: Ray Lewis because I am a great leader and like to communicate to my defense.
Q: What is your prediction for Super Bowl LI?
A: The Patriots will win.
Q: Name one thing that most people might not know about you?
A: That I’m a shy guy.
VMS All-Star Team
Jesse Castro, Harlingen High
Offensive Player of the Year
Omar Silva, Port Isabel
Defensive Player of the Year
Emilio Garza, San Benito
Newcomer of the Year
Tyrone Harper, San Benito
Coach of the Year
Manny Gomez, Harlingen High
1st Team Offense
Quarterback: Erick Retta, San Benito
Running back: Roy Pedraza, Weslaco East
Wide receivers: Isaiah Trevino, San Benito; Brandon Perez, La Feria; Adrian Torres, Hayes Duffy, Harlingen High
Offensive line: Julio Pecina, San Benito; Oscar Del Abra, Port Isabel; Christian Herrera, Harlingen High; Abel Villarreal, Harlingen South; Zachary Cordova, La Feria
Kicker: Giovanni Guillen
1st Team Defense
Defensive ends: Christopher Bode, Port Isabel; Brandon Bennett, Harlingen South
Defensive tackles: Marco Garcia, Rio Hondo; John Alvarez, San Benito
Linebackers: Richard Moreno, San Benito; Zach Fayyad, Harlingen South; Darian Cortez, Raymondville
Secondary: Joshua Martinez, Harlingen High; Robert Ceballos, La Feria; Jarod Stroud, Lyford
Punter: Josiah Ortega, Rio Hondo
2nd Team Offense
Quarterback: Frank Moreno, Lyford
Running back: Gilbert Montemayor, Harlingen South
Wide receivers: Riley Sauceda; Julian Trevino, La Feria; Kaynon Fuentes, Harlingen High
Offensive line: Ty Rhyner, Rio Hondo; Joseph Hernandez, Lyford; Joseph Torres, Port Isabel; Christian Herrera, Harlingen High; Brandon Perez, Weslaco
Kicker: Jose Alas-Meza, Rio Hondo
2nd Team Defense
Defensive ends: Ryan Reza, San Benito; Michael Adameit, Lyford
Defensive tackles: Jorge Jaime, Harlingen High; Juan Delgado, Rio Hondo
Linebackers: Sam Gonzalez, Harlingen High; Javier Gonzalez, Lyford; Victory Luna, La Feria
Secondary: Ricky Gonzalez, Port Isabel; Jacob Posas, Raymondville; Pete Contreras, La Feria
Punter: Deion Castillo, Raymondville