By Gaige Davila
The Port Isabel Tarpons will play their first, and only, regular game of the football season this Friday against PSJA Southwest at Tarpon Stadium.
Initially, the Tarpons had a two-game season, after two postponements when COVID-19 cases began increasing across Texas and the Rio Grande Valley. COVID-19 cases in Cameron County were averaging 53 per day last week, with cases now averaging 68 cases a day as of press time.
To prepare for this week’s game, the Tarpons had an intersquad game on Oct. 22 to an audience of parents and PI-ISD staff, ending the practice scrimmage with conditioning drills.
Port Isabel Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Tony Villarreal said the Tarpons will be playing to the best of their ability, after starting their in-person practices on Oct. 12.
“We’ve only had them for two or three weeks,” Villarreal said. “The opponents we’re going against, (the coach) is an established coach and he’s had them for four years, he’s got four-year starters.”
He continued, “it’s a tall task.”
Villarreal’s goals for the upcoming games, though, are to establish the offence and defense program within the team and, overall, to play.
Villarreal said the team is fresh and eager to play football, with no injuries amongst the team.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play, these guys are hardcore football players,” Villarreal said. “They’ve been short changed, and my heart bleeds for them. They really want to play.”
No positive COVID-19 cases have been reported among the Tarpon sports teams since starting in-person practice, Villarreal said, attributing PI-ISD’s proactiveness to the disease earlier this year for their ability to keep their fall sports going.
Next week, the Tarpons will face the Raymondville Bearkats at Tarpon Stadium. After the Raymondville game, a postseason would begin with Divine High School—a 4A high school southwest of San Antonio—but that could change as well.
The Bearkats had been quarantined after a player tested positive for COVID-19, cancelling a game scheduled Oct. 16 against the Mission Veterans Memorial Patriots, the Valley Morning Star reported. The Bearkats, so far, have played only one game so far, winning 38-33 against Victoria West.
Tickets for the game were presold only. Only unopened bottled water, canned drinks and packaged, sealed snacks are allowed inside the stadium. Face masks must be worn at all time while inside Tarpon Stadium, and all guests will undergo a COVID-19 screening before entry. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.