Commentary: Lions face familiar foes, past rivals and a Class 6A team in 2018

When I started writing these commentary pieces examining the schedules of some of our area high school football teams, there was still 78 days until the start of the 2018 season.

That was back toward the beginning of June. Now, as we head into the final stretch of July, I’m happy to announce that only 37 days remain until kickoff. Heck, there are now only 13 days left until most teams begin two-a-days and just nine days until the NFL preseason begins with the annual Hall of Fame game.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, football fans.

Today, we examine the 2018 La Feria Lions schedule. They kick things off on Aug. 31 with a home game against Raymondville.

Last season, the 6-4 Lions, who shared the District 16-4A Division I title with Kingsville King, lost to the Bearkats in their season opener 22-12. They managed to recover the following week with a victory over Falfurrias, however this season the Lions don’t play the Jerseys. In fact, while the Lions do play most of the same non-district opponents they faced last year, this season marks the return of a couple of old foes as well as a new one.

Back on the schedule are the Mercedes Tigers, who the Lions haven’t played since 2015, and the Rio Hondo Bobcats, who they haven’t faced on the gridiron since 2013. Meanwhile, new to the schedule is the Brownsville Rivera Raiders out of District 32-6A.

The Lions face the Tigers in Week 3 on Sept. 14 at Mercedes. In 2015, the Tigers beat the Lions 26-10 and the year before that the Tigers won 28-14. The last time the Lions were in the win column against Mercedes was in 2013 when they won 12-0.

Rio Hondo comes to town in Week 6 on Oct. 5, which is the game right before the Lions’ district season begins. While La Feria and Rio Hondo have remained league foes in other sports, the 2014 UIL realignment placed the Lions and Cats in separate divisions and, therefore, the two have not played each other since the year before the shakeup.

In 2013, Rio Hondo won the contest 40-27. The year before that, however, La Feria walked away with a 28-21 victory.

As for Rivera, the Lions actually play the Raiders right before Rio Hondo in Week 5 on Sept. 28 at Sams Stadium in Brownsville. While the Raiders did limp to a 1-9 season last year, they are still a 6A team with bigger numbers and the experience should benefit the Lions down the road.

Backing up, in Week 2 the Lions face the Santa Rosa Warriors in the annual Battle of FM 506. Last year, the Lions beat up on the Warriors 47-0 to extend their 506 win steak to five in a row. The last time Santa Rosa won the rivalry game was in 2012, which snapped a 20-year losing skid.

After their date with Mercedes, the Lions host Port Isabel in Week 4 on Sept. 21. The Lions defeated the Tarpons 45-13 a season ago.

The Lions begin the league slate in Week 7 on Oct. 12 with a home contest against Kingsville King. The Lions beat the Brahmas last season 45-19, but it was their loss the week before to Zapata that cost them the chance of winning the 16-4A DI title outright.

The Lions hit the long road to Zapata in Week 8 on Oct. 19 and will try to avenge last year’s 35-7 loss.

In the final two weeks of the season, the Lions host Grulla in Week 9 then conclude the regular season in Week 10 with a contest at Hidalgo, which went 0-10 and lost to La Feria 43-0 last season.

In the 2017 postseason, the Lions were eliminated in the first round by Rockport-Fulton 19-14. If it’s any consolation, the Pirates are now in District 15-4A Division II so there’s no chance the Lions will face them in this year’s playoffs.

For what it’s worth, none of the teams in 15-4A DI that qualified for the postseason last year advanced past the second round.

Just some food for thought.

2018 Lions schedule

-Aug. 31: Raymondville

-Sept. 7: at Santa Rosa

-Sept. 14: at Mercedes

-Sept. 21: Port Isabel

-Sept. 28: at Brownsville Rivera

-Oct. 5: Rio Hondo

*Oct. 12: Kingsville King

*Oct. 19: at Zapata

*Oct. 26: Grulla

*Nov. 2: at Hidalgo

*Nov. 9: OPEN