LAREDO, Texas — After dropping back-to-back district losses to United South and San Antonio Southwest, the Longhorns (4-4, 3-2) kept their post-season candle burning this past weekend with a 45-14 road win over the then district co-leader: The Eagle Pass Eagles.
United looks to keep the momentum going at home when they face the Del Rio Rams (2-6, 2-3) at the Student Athletic Complex on Thursday night
The stakes? Win or they’re likely out of playoff contention. It’s that simple.
An Improved Passing Game
Early in the season, the Longhorns inexperienced offense was all over the scoring map as the points-per-game totals varied greatly from week-to-week. In the past two games against the district’s elite teams, the offense has come alive putting up 29 in a losing effort to the Southwest Dragons, and lighting up the Eagle Pass defense for 45 points to hand the Eagles their first district loss.
This late-season offensive surge can be attributed to an improved passing assault led by sophomore quarterback Eduardo Huerta and senior receiver Chris Fine. Huerta’s last two starts have seen him average 237.5 yards and two touchdowns per game with a passer rating of 110.1. Fine’s numbers over the same span are also impressive as the senior pass catcher has averaged 108 receiving yards per outing, with a total of five scores.
This kind of productivity places great pressure on the opposing secondary and allows the offense to be more creative.
A reliable running game
Running back Isaac Velasquez has been a steady force for the Longhorns throughout the year.The senior ball carrier is averaging 117 yards rushing per game and has a total of 11 scores in eight contests. Velasquez has been a key component in keeping drives alive and opposing offenses off the field as he has carried a total of 136 times, averaging six yards per touch.
With a young quarterback at the helm, one can assume that Velasquez’s consistency has been a welcomed commodity.
A tough defense
All season long, the Longhorns have relied on their defense to keep them in games and come up big. The unit has a good mix of veteran leadership at key positions. It is stout, fast and plays a physical brand of football.
The defensive front – led by senior defensive tackle Brandon Brondo – is adept at pressing opposing quarterbacks and clogging inside running lanes.
The second tier of the squad is anchored by senior outside linebacker Christian Cazares. The backing core and secondary are quick to the ball and always looking to punish any runners or receivers that come their way.
The unit is allowing an average of 16.1 points per contest. Considering that Del Rio’s offense is scoring 17.6 a game, the indication is that this could be a long night for the Rams.
Beyond the numbers
Although all the stats heavily favor the Longhorns, the bottom-line is that games are played and won on the field and not on paper. The Rams will get the chance to prove that numbers can be misleading.
For United, the pressure is on them to prove they continue to be worthy of playoff consideration.
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