By LARRY GAGE
Special to the PRESS
The Port Isabel Tarpons will face Lyford in a bi-district playoff this Friday (Nov. 16) in San Benito.
Port Isabel was off last week and Tarpon players and coaches were in Raymondville last Friday to take in the Bearkats’ game with Lyford, knowing they would draw the loser as their first-round opponent. Raymondville won in a rout, 40-13. Raymondville will take on La Feria in Raymondville this Friday in their bi-district contest.
Port Isabel comes in as co-champions of District 32-3A after its regular season ending win last week over Rio Hondo, 36-7. The Tarpons are 7-3 overall and 3-1 in district play. Hidalgo, the other co-champion, finishes with the same records after a 34-28 win in overtime at La Feria on Friday night.
Back on September 7 Port Isabel got past Lyford with a 22-18 win on the road. It was the second win in a row for the Tarpons over Lyford. Port Isabel routed the Bulldogs last season at Tarpon Stadium, 38-7.
They did it with one of the best pass defenses around. Lyford has been as much of a passing team in recent seasons as Port Isabel has been a rushing team. The ‘Dogs have passed for over 2,000 yards for six seasons consecutively. The Tarpon defense held Lyford to 126 yards in their 2011 game, and 126 yards again in 2012. This season the Tarpons have surrendered an average of 85 passing yards per game overall, 78.5 in district competition.
“They’re a throwing team,” head Port Isabel coach Monty Stumbaugh said on Saturday. “They run a lot of screens and they have a lot of different looks.”
Lyford played most of the Raymondville game at a disadvantage, as their starting quarterback, Scott Arnold, lasted only one offensive series due to illness. Arnold leads the Valley 3A schools with over 2,200 yards through the air and that total is second among Valley quarterbacks, all classes included.
“He’s a good quarterback,” Coach Stumbaugh said. “Everybody at this point is good or they wouldn’t be in the playoffs.”
The Tarpons are pretty good on offense as well. Coming into Week 10 they led the Valley with 3,162 yards gained on the ground. Leading rusher for P.I. is Jacob Losoya, who finished the regular season with 1,059 yards, with a 7.8-yard average and eight touchdowns. Javier Vela averaged 8.2 yards per carry in gaining 682 yards and scored 11 times.
General admission is $6.00 and for students $3.00. All tickets at the gate will be $6. Tickets will also be sold from 7:30 a.m. to 12 noon on Thursday, November 15, and Friday, November 16, at the athletic ticket booth behind the new gym.