There will not be a Rio Grande Valley Coaches Association All-Star football game in 2020.
But the rosters, which were released Wednesday by the RGVCA, are chock full of talented seniors from every corner of the Rio Grande Valley. The organization significantly expanded the rosters for this year because of the game’s cancelation due to the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Weslaco High’s Roy Stroman was designated the coach of the East, and Koy Detmer of Mission High was named to coach the West.
The East squad features quarterbacks Dorian Hernandez of District 16-4A Division I champion La Feria and Jaime Galvan of Harlingen High, the District 32-6A winner in 2019.
Other notable signal-callers selected were Brownsville Hanna’s Victor Campos, Brownsville Lopez’s Jose Cruz, Santa Maria’s Nataniel Rodriguez and Jacob Cavazos of Weslaco High.
“The three we had selected were excellent and deserving football players,” Hanna coach Mark Guess said. “All three were a big part of our 2017 playoff team as sophomores, and 2018 district championship and playoff run as juniors. Victor has one of the best arms I’ve seen in my high school coaching career. He has a strong arm and deceptive speed because of his size. Ernest Mendoza has been a great receiver for us for the last three years. All he did was catch the ball when it came his way. Brandon Esteves is the best and most dominant defensive player I’ve had in my career.”
Guess expressed sentiments widely shared by coaches across the Valley about the safety concerns that prompted the game to be canceled but lamented the missed chance for the players to suit up for the final time in their high school careers.
“I hate that the game was canceled, because I really wanted one more opportunity for these guys in high school to be able to put on the equipment and play against the best in the Valley,” Guess said. “Unfortunately, a virus named COVID-19 had other plans for us. But I think it’s great that the RGVCA is recognizing all of these young men for their efforts playing a game they really love.”
Saul Garcia of Raymondville was the lone punter/kicker named to the East roster.
Skill position players on the East roster include Brownsville Veterans Memorial wide receiver Elijah Masten and tight end Damian Maldonado, Brownsville Pace running back Dylan Barron, Harlingen High running back Rayden Berry, Port Isabel running back Brayan Medina, Rio Hondo running back Fabian Torres, Raymondville running back Justin Cantu, Port Isabel wide receiver Mac Strunk, Brownsville Rivera wide receiver Elian Hernandez, La Feria wideout Caleb Flores, Los Fresnos wide receiver Nico Valencia and Harlingen South tight end Brady Bennett.
“It’s been a great four years working with (my seniors) all on and off the field and watching (them) grow into great young men,” Rio Hondo coach Rocky James said. “I’m very proud and honored that they all were selected to the RGVCA All-Star team. You all make Rio Hondo football special.”
On the decision to scratch this year’s game, James said, “It’s something that had to be done. It’s sad, but it’s what’s best for these young men.”
Among the several standouts on the offensive line were Raymondville’s Isaiah Gloria, Brownsville Pace’s Rafael Recio and Brownsville Porter’s Adam Gonzalez.
Anchoring the defensive line are Brownsville Hanna’s Brandon Esteves, Los Fresnos’ Leeroy Guerrero, St. Joseph Academy’s Senad Drvisevic, Lyford’s John Hernandez and Andrew Rodriguez of La Feria.
“John was our emotional leader on the field,” Lyford coach Israel Gutierrez said. “He was a two-way starter and helped us set a tone all year long. This selection is well-deserved, and we are going to miss him. I am glad that the RGV athletes are being recognized, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t get to see the best of the best in action one more time. It’s a game the RGV looks forward to every year.”
Other defensive players of note include La Feria defensive back Evan Avila, Rio Hondo linebacker Joey Ortega, Santa Maria linebacker Marcos Sandoval, Brownsville Veterans outside linebacker Angel Rodriguez, Port Isabel linebacker Luis Bustamante, La Villa defensive back Robert Rivera Jr., Port Isabel defensive back Jake Pinkerton, La Feria linebacker Erick Luna, San Benito defensive back Ciro Munoz, Brownsville Veterans linebacker Jason Ambriz and Harlingen South defensive back Kike Alvarado.
“I’m so proud to be their coach for the last four years,” Los Fresnos coach Patrick Brown said of the Falcons’ all-star selections. “I understand why they had to cancel the game, but my heart breaks for all those seniors. All of them are so deserving of the RGVCA selection. I applaud the RGVCA’s hard work and for giving all these seniors a positive memory that will last a lifetime.”