LYFORD — For more than 70 years the Willacy County Cotton Bowl has staked its claim as one of the biggest rivalries in the Rio GrandeValley.
Separated by just five miles, Lyford and Raymondville’s annual contest brings out the best of both teams. And while Raymondville may lead the series 53-20-1, records of any kind get thrown out when these two teams meet.
“We know there is going to be a lot of people here and somebody is going to be in every seat,” said Lyford head coach Israel Gonzalez. “It’s a big game due to both communities being so close to each other and a lot of these guys have family on both sides. So it’s big for them, but at the same time as a coach and as a team we try to approach each game the same way.
“We just need to come out here and take care of the details like limiting penalties and executing on offense and defense. To take care of a big game you have to take care of the little things that usually lead to big things that lead to a win.”
This year Raymondville enters the annual rivalry with a 2-0 record after defeating both La Feria and Grulla. Last season the Bearkats entered the game 0-2, giving up 95 points through their first two games. However, this year Raymondville has given up just 19 total points.
Similar to last season, the Bulldogs enter game with a record of 1-1. After defeating the Progreso Red Ants 48-14 in Week One, Lyford was handed a rough 58-8 loss by a strong St. Joseph Bloodhounds team. St. Joe amassed more than 600 yards in the win.
However, last week’s crushing loss did serve as a reminder to take care of the little things, Gonzalez said.
“We have definitely worked on taking care of the little details and making sure that we are not shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties,” said Gonzalez. “We did have three turnovers (last week) so securing the football is crucial. But, obviously, St. Joseph is a very talented and well-coached football team that took advantage of those things, and went off and ran with the football and scored some quick touchdowns that put us in a hole.
“That’s how it goes sometimes, but we’re getting back to the basics and making sure that we are executing on offense, defense and special teams. We need to ensure ourselves a chance to win the football game.”