Saturday, July 21, 2018
Text Size

20170901 Football Pioneer-vs-Mustangs GU IMG 6237At the start of every football season, each team sets out with the goal of winning a district championship. The Pioneer Diamondbacks (1-1) accomplished the feat for the first time in program history a season ago by winning a share of the 31-5A title, the first time since they opened their doors four years ago.


This year, Head Coach Jason Wheeler and the Diamondbacks have a target on their backs as they begin district play tonight and prepare for the other eight district teams coming after Pioneer’s 31-5A crown.


“That’s where we want to be,” senior running back Logan Harris said. “We want to be at the top, we want to be the one every one wants to knock down. We like that, we like a challenge, and it really motivates us to work harder.”


After falling short to McAllen Memorial in Week One 41-24, the Diamondbacks responded with a 34-28 victory on the road against the Brownsville Pace Vikings last Saturday to pick up their first win of 2017.


The Diamondbacks didn’t let the unusual 11 a.m. start phase them. Senior running back Logan Harris broke out in a big way against Pace, finishing the game with 173 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just 15 carries. Rosales got in on the scoring fun by adding two passing touchdowns to receivers William Proctor and Roel Cajero to go with his 215 passing yards.


Now, Pioneer is set to defend the District 31-5A crown, and the first challenger is the Laredo Cigarroa Toros.


Diamondbacks senior middle linebacker Angel Chapa, who is second on the team in total tackles, averaging 13.5 per game, finished the game against Pace with 13 tackles


“Now that district is here, now we know what kind of team we got, we know we need to fight a lot harder,” Chapa said. “We just have to come out and hit them in the mouth. We always wanted to be known as the team you got to beat, we never liked the sister school label. We always wanted to be the big dog in the district, so we finally got what we wanted.”


The Toros (0-2) come into this game having been outscored 63-24 in their two non-district contests and things don’t look to get much better anytime soon. Cigarroa opens 31-5A action with a brutal three-game stretch by facing Pioneer, Nixon and Veterans Memorial in consecutive weeks, all playoff teams from a season ago.


In last year’s 31-5A opener, the Diamondbacks had their biggest win of the season, shutting out the Toros 42-0 on the road. Rosales finished the rout of Cigarroa with 249 total yards and four touchdowns through the air, including one to then-junior Enrique Hurtado, who is back as a senior and leading this year’s team in receiving with 11 receptions.


On the horizon is a meeting with the Laredo Nixon Mustangs, the team the Diamondbacks shared the district championship with a season ago. Pioneer has had this year’s game against Nixon circled since losing last year 24-10. With that game coming after next week’s bye, Wheeler’s group knows the can’t overlook anybody in the nine-team district.


Harris has rushed for 254 yards on 28 carries, averaging 9.1 yards with two touchdowns in non-district action. The senior running back hopes he can find the same success as 31-5A play is set for kickoff.


“We know that there’s a target on our back from every team we’re going to play, so it’s important to come to play every game and be ready and not underestimate anybody,” he said. “We’re just focused on getting our first district win and starting off strong and just getting into the flow of it.”


Kickoff between the Diamondbacks and the Cigarroa Toros is slated for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Richard Thompson Stadium.