Commentary: Cardinals’ 2018 non-district slate highlighted by home game vs Judson

The 2018 high school football season is still 78 days away from beginning but, admit it, it’s on everyone’s brain.

And that’s why I thought it might be fun to use this time to look ahead at some of our area teams’ schedules.

Each Tuesday we’ll examine a specific team’s 2018 set of games and see which ones stick out and should be circled on your calendars.

To make it even more fun, I encourage our readers to check out our Valley Morning Star Facebook page and leave your comments. Which game sticks out to you the most or which one are you most looking forward to?

Like I said, we’ve still got 78 days to go until the start of the new season so let’s help get through the excruciating wait together.

Kicking things off, I thought it would be fun to examine the Harlingen Cardinals’ schedule.

Now, before I get phone calls from people accusing me of playing favorites, let me just say that the reason I picked the Cards right off the bat is because of their Week 3 home game against Converse Judson.

Let’s face it, it’s not every day that a state football powerhouse visits the Valley, but the six-time state champion Rockets will indeed play at Boggus Stadium on Friday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m.

The last time Judson paid a visit to Harlingen was in 1989 when it played the Cardinals in a Class 5A state quarterfinal. That’s the fourth round of the playoffs, by the way.

Led by fullback Scott Swinnea and linebacker Manny Gomez, who is now the Cards’ head coach, the Red Birds gave the Rockets all they could handle. And while the Cardinals ultimately lost the game, it’s a contest that Harlingen High fans still talk about. Who knows? Maybe this year’s game will be one that will be talked about almost 30 years after the fact.

But while the Judson game will undoubtedly be a spotlight event, the Cards will have played two games by the time the Rockets come calling.

Harlingen High opens the season on Aug. 31 with a home game against Sharyland Pioneer then is at Laredo United South on Saturday, Sept. 8 for Week 2. This will be the third year in a row that the Cards have played United South. In 2016, the Panthers came into Boggus Stadium and stunned Harlingen 30-13. The Cards, however, returned the favor last season by beating them in Laredo 20-6.

After the Week 3 contest vs. Judson, the Cards stay at home in Week 4 and play host to Weslaco East, which was moved out of District 32-6A in this year’s UIL realignment. Harlingen then concludes its non-district schedule with a road game set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 29 at Midland High, which finished the 2017 season with a 3-8 record.

After a bye week, the Cards begin the 32-6A grind with the annual Battle of the Arroyo at San Benito. Last year the Greyhounds beat up on the Cards 53-0 so… Well, tensions are always high for this contest.

In Week 7, the Cards are at Brownsville Hanna, which beat Harlingen last year for the first time since 1993.

Moving on, in Week 8 the Cards host Los Fresnos then on Nov. 2 take on Harlingen South in the annual Bird Bowl. Last season the Cards beat the Hawks 36-7 to claim their 10th straight victory in the intracity rivalry.

Finally, Harlingen closes out the regular season on Nov. 9 with a home contest against Brownsville Rivera.

Last season proved to be a rough one for the Cardinals as they went 5-5 overall and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

Will they rebound this season and return to glory? They still have 79 days until we all began to find out.

Dave Favila is the Valley Morning Star’s sports editor. Follow him on Twitter @dfavila. Next week we’ll check out the San Benito Greyhounds’ sked.

2018 Cardinals schedule

-Aug. 31: Sharyland Pioneer

-Sept. 8: at Laredo United South

-Sept. 14: Converse Judson

-Sept. 21: Weslaco East

-Sept. 29: at Midland High

-Oct. 5: OPEN

*Oct. 12: at San Benito

*Oct. 19: at Brownsville Hanna

*Oct. 26: Los Fresnos

*Nov. 2: vs. Harlingen South

*Nov. 9: Brownsville Rivera