Cardinals show balance in season opener

football mgn

HARLINGEN — Entering Harlingen High’s first scrimmage of the year, there were a few questions.

The Cardinals responded with a sound effort of both sides of the ball against the Weslaco High Panthers on Friday night at Boggus Stadium.

Harlingen High and Weslaco High are no stranger to each other. Last year, the two met in the bi-district round and prior to that, for two seasons the Panthers and Cardinals were district opponents.

There was no question about who will direct Big Red’s offense in 2019. Left-handed gunslinger Jaime Galvan showed why he is one of the Rio Grande Valley’s best at the quarterback position, directing the offense to four scoring drives out of five opportunities.

“It starts with our offensive line. They did really well for us and stepped up,” Galvan said. “We learned to keep our composure tonight, but overall I thought we did a great job.”

Galvan found the end zone once on the third drive of the night. After not scoring on its opening drive, the Cardinals scored on their next three possessions. Their second score came off a fumble recovery on defense that led to a Rayden Berry TD run.

“We started a little slow, but that is something we will fix. I felt we could do a little better, but we feel good right now,” Galvan said.

Berry, who has had a strong camp, again displayed his skills out of the backfield. Much like in an intrasquad scrimmage last week, Berry helped break open the Cardinals’ offense on the ground and through the air.

“Rayden does a great job for us,” Galvan said. “When you have a running back like him, it opens things up for us on offense and opens up the passing game.”

Cards coach Manny Gomez was pleased with his offensive line play and the conditioning of his players. The offensive line provided holes for Galvan and Berry most of the night.

“I was watching the line of scrimmage and wasn’t looking too much down field, but along the offensive line. What I saw was a plus,” Gomez said. “The conditioning and the execution was there. The No. 1 thing we look for is the conditioning but I saw the offensive line come off the ball and I liked what I saw, so I was proud of them and what they did.”

On defense, Harlingen High held its own against Panthers senior quarterback Jacob Cavazos, who, like Galvan, is poised to have a strong senior season under center.

With a new coach in Roy Stroman and a new offensive system at Weslaco High, Cavazos displayed the ability to run and pass the ball.

“Early on, yes, there was some nerves on defense,” Gomez said. “These guys have high expectations of themselves, and they know they want to be great. It was just a matter of the kids settling down and listening to the call. After the first series we told them they needed to relax and we didn’t know what formations they were going to line up in, and they settled down as the game went on.”

Senior linebacker Gabriel Martinez felt good about the defense’s performance and had no extra nerves on the field.

“We came out nervous and got our feet wet,” Martinez said. “We fixed some things and made adjustments in the second half, and made some stops. They had one good drive on us, but that was a bust in gaps on our part. But I felt we did good the rest of the game.”