BROWNSVILLE – The West stars outshone the East in the Rio Grande Valley Coaches Association’s all-star football game Friday night at Sams Memorial Stadium, winning 45-14 in front of a crowd of more than 3,000 spectators.
The East was coached by the Hanna staff, led by coach Mark Guess. Mission Veterans coach David Gilpin took the reins of the West coaching staff.
Two seniors, in particular, relished their chance to compete under the Friday night lights one last time — Mission Veterans quarterback Landry Gilpin and Hanna linebacker Jose Cruz.
The two stars collided when Cruz picked off Landry Gilpin with less than seven minutes to go in the first quarter.
Cruz had nose for the ball throughout the first half, punctuated by a sack of Valley View quarterback Simon Fernandez with 10 minutes to go in the first quarter.
Landry Gilpin and Co. had the last laugh, as the West put up 24 unanswered points and shut out the East during the first half. The West got on the board with a field goal from Edinburg Vela’s Tate Scott, set up by Edinburg High running back Hearlin Benavides with 10 minutes to go in the first quarter.
The West reeled off 21 points during the second quarter, beginning with a 3-yard touchdown pass from PSJA High’s Trey Guajardo to Mission High’s Sebastian Gonzalez with just less than seven minutes to play in the first half.
“They made some big plays,” Guess said. “Their kids were covered. We had some defensive backs on them and they made some great catches, so kudos to them. They did a great job.”
Both coaches lamented that they had just six days to practice together and install offensive schemes. But Landry Gilpin found instant chemistry with Daniel Enriquez, who was his go-to target Friday night.
Landry Gilpin, the Southwestern University commit, engineered two touchdown drives during the last 2 1/2 minutes of the second quarter. Enriquez, an Edinburg Vela wideout, was responsible for both touchdown receptions. The first went for 61 yards on post. Enriquez caught a pass over the middle and dodged several East defenders for an 81-yard score, and with 13:44 to play in the fourth quarter, he returned a punt 70 yards for his third touchdown of the evening.
“(Enriquez) is an extremely talented young man,” David Gilpin said. “As a matter of fact, all of the boys from Edinburg Vela were really, really good football players. And that was the neat thing about this bunch, we knew coming in that we were going to be talented.”
San Benito quarterback Jacob Cavazos got the East on the scoreboard with 13:13 to play during the third quarter, scampering to the end zone from 2 yards out on a keeper to bring the score to 24-7.
Cavazos frequently targeted his San Benito teammate, running back Frankie Garcia. The pair linked up for a 15-yard pass with 3:12 to go in the second quarter.
The East’s final drive of the fourth quarter was highlighted by Raymondville quarterback Jacob Posas completing a 36-yard pass to La Feria receiver Darius Hernandez that set the table for Santa Rosa running back Ryan Mesa’s 3-yard touchdown run with four minutes to play.
Grulla quarterback Dillen Salinas got in on the action for the West with 5:30 to go in the fourth quarter, tossing a touchdown pass to La Joya Juarez-Lincoln wide receiver Luis Rodriguez.
Guess said the game was a spectacle that fans from across the Valley could enjoy, and a fitting commemoration of two of the most successful programs from the region. Hanna ended last season with a District 32-6A title and a berth in the third round of the playoffs for the first time in school history. Mission Veterans made the longest run of any team from the region, losing to San Antonio Wagner in their Class 5A Division I state quarterfinal.
“This was an exhibition game,” Guess said. “Although we did want to win it, the kids came out and they had a lot of fun.
“It was a great run in 2018, and that football season — this whole school year — was awesome for us generally in most sports. To be able to coach this game right here in our own back yard, it was an exhilarating feeling. There’s nothing like it.”