San Benito Clovers set for inaugural playoff run

Since the season began, the San Benito Clovers have been fighting a battle on two fronts — their IWFA Division II opponents and inexperience.

The fight, however, proved to be a good thing in that it has fueled the team’s motivation heading into the second part of the season.

“One of the toughest obstacles we’ve had to overcome has been our inexperience because it (playing football) was new to the majority of the team,” said Clovers owner Neka Gonzalez. “So, in turn, it made it harder to prove to the people around us that this team would go far. They found it hard to believe most of the time as if the game is still only for men, but these women have shown otherwise.

“Through hard work and total dedication on the field, we are exactly where we knew we could be. This team is made up of five women that have played tackle football before and 17 whom have never stepped foot on a field wearing shoulder pads and a helmet.”

As a first-year team based out San Benito, the Clovers are enjoying a spectacular inaugural season. With a record of 4-3, the team was able to grab the No. 4 seed in Division II by defeating the SWTX Mockingjays twice (23-18, 74-58), the Dynasty (38-12) and the Laredo Warhawks 25-20. Now the Clovers face a new challenge in the playoffs against a not-so-familiar STX Phoenix team.

“The team is excited,” said Gonzalez of their upcoming playoff game. “They are all pumped and ready because they have all worked really hard to reach this point and they will not let anyone stop them.”

The game is slated for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Stookey Park in San Benito.

One rally cry that the team has gathered around has been “#chasinthering” where the team stresses unity to reach the top.

Top performers for the Clovers this year have been Mindy Barrientes who has 24 unassisted tackles, 33 assisted tackles and nine touchdowns; Rosie Gomez who has 18 unassisted tackles, 37 assisted tackles and one quarterback sack; Claire Zavala who has scored four touchdowns; and Shelly Ortega who has six unassisted tackles, 16 assisted and one touchdown.