Bobcats set for showdown vs Aransas Pass

RIO HONDO — At the start of the season, it was for certain that the Rio Hondo offense would be one of the top units in the Valley. The question was on the defensive side of the ball.

Well, that question was answered this season as the Bobcats’ D was rock solid and helped the team roll to a District 16-4A Division I title.

Now the senior-filled squad will look to exorcise last year’s first-round playoff loss and claim the program’s first bi-district title since 2011 as the Cats face Aransas Pass in a Class 4A DII bi-district matchup.

“It’s been a great week of practice,” said Rio Hondo coach Rocky James. “The kids have come out strong and we have added a few things, and hopefully we can get things going early offensively to give our defense a chance to make some plays.”

AransasPass comes in as the fourth seed out of what was a tough District 15-4A Division II with Cuero, Sweeny and Sinton all taking the first three playoff spots. The Panthers will present a unique challenge with the Slot-T offense.

“We are hoping we can slow them down,” said James. “They’re a very good offensive team and they have grown a lot from the start of the season to now. They have come full circle and we hope to make some stops early and score quickly. Their offense is different. They like to run a slow-pace attack and we need to stop them, and get off the field as soon as we can and get our offense back on the field.”

Sophomore linebacker Joey Ortega has raised his level of play for the Bobcats’ defense. Ortega made his varsity debut in Week 2 against La Joya Juarez-Lincoln and has been a tackling machine with a team-high 107 total tackles.

Offensively, the Cats welcomed back junior running back Danny Vasquez, who will look to find his footing in the offense after an injury early in the season.

Meanwhile, senior quarterback Tyler Bush has directed the offense with strong numbers both rushing and passing. He will have his go-to target Erik Pizzaro, who has put up solid numbers this season. Frank Hernandez and Cross Gonzalez will also figure prominently as through-the-air weapons.