Cardinals wrap up outright district crown with rout of Rivera

BROWNSVILLE — The Harlingen High Cardinals are District 32-6A champions for the first time since 2016.

Thanks to Friday’s 65-28 victory over Brownsville Rivera at Sams Memorial Stadium, the Cardinals are back as 32-6A champions and headed to next week’s Class 6A Division II playoffs against Edinburg Vela.

“Winning district feels great,” said Harlingen High running back Rayden Berry, who scored three times during Friday’s game. “That was one of the goals we set for ourselves and we’ve accomplished it, but we’re not done. We’ve got playoffs to worry about, and now we’re focusing on that. It’s the next chapter (in the book) for us.”

Harlingen High improved to 9-1 on the season and 5-0 in district with its seventh straight win.

“We have a lot of team camaraderie,” Berry said. “We’re like a family, and that’s been a big difference for us this year.

“What’s ahead are the playoffs,” he added. “We’re going to be focused and take it week by week.”

Rivera, which showed improvement this season under first-year coach Beto Leal, ends its season at 2-8 overall, 1-4 in 32-6A.

The Cardinals led 20-8 after the first quarter and 41-15 at halftime. They took a 48-15 advantage into the final period.

After Harlingen High went up 7-0 by scoring on its first possession thanks to Berry’s 1-yard touchdown run and a Jacob Garza extra point with 9:55 showing in the opening period, Rivera then briefly took the lead, 8-7. It came on a 1-yard TD run by the Raiders’ Ramiro Vega and a two-point conversion run by quarterback Chito Perez at the 5:07 mark of the first quarter.

Following that Rivera score, it was pretty much all Harlingen High.

An 11-yard TD pass from quarterback Jaime Galvan to brother Justin Galvan, a wide receiver, with 4:31 to go in the first period put the Cardinals back in the lead for good, 14-8.

Actually, Harlingen High scored on five straight possessions during the first half to make it 41-15 at intermission.

With 2:17 to go in the opening period, an 11-yard TD run by Jaime Galvan increased the score to 20-8 after a two-point conversion pass attempt fell incomplete.

Jaime Galvan hooked up with Berry on a 31-yard scoring pass at the 11:30 mark of the second quarter to make it 27-8. It became 34-8 with 10:26 left before the half when Berry sprinted across the goal line from 13 yards out.

The Galvan brothers hooked up on another TD pass with 6:28 left before halftime to increase the lead to 41-8. This time, the TD pass play covered 34 yards.

Rivera closed the gap to 41-15 with 37 seconds left in the second quarter. Vega, who went over 100 yards rushing on the night, broke loose on a 14-yard scoring scamper. During the second half, Vega also scored on a 75-yard sprint down the left sideline.

Still, the night belonged to the Cardinals.