The Annual Willacy County Cotton Bowl is set to take place tonight. Last season the game was cancelled due to a tragic loss in the Lyford community, so Raymondville is still riding a three game win streak over Lyford that dates back to 2012. The two schools are five miles apart and it is one of the most anticipated games of the year in the Rio Grande Valley.
The Bulldogs are coming in with a record of 1-1, while the struggling Bearkats go into tonight winless at 0-2. I had a chance to catch up with both of the head coach’s from each school to discuss their teams and the matchup taking place tonight.
“(Last week) we gained 250 total yards and allowed 255 yards in the game,” said Raymondville head coach Frank Cantu. “While that stat was very close, the turnover stats were not in our favor. We turned the ball over and gave our opponent very good field position and didn’t get key stops when we needed them. This is a good group of kids that know that good things are ahead (for them). We will continue to push hard and give maximum effort.”
“Last week’s game was a great indicator of where we stand right now as a team, both offensively and defensively,” said Lyford head coach Jaime Infante. “I thought St. Joseph was in midseason form and I knew we would be tested on both sides of the ball. Our biggest positive was the play of our defense. I believed that we played a very explosive offense last week and contained them very well, although the score may not be indicative of that. We need to focus more on consistency of executing our offensive scheme. We moved the ball well and sputtered in the red zone too many times. Cutting down on negative yardage plays is a must for us to get back on the winning track. (Our) practices have gone extremely well this week, our student-athletes have been focused. I think they have prepared well for (Raymondville).”
When I asked Coach Cantu about the rivalry with Lyford and this being one of the “bigger” games of the year, he had the following to say. “We want a win regardless of the opponent. The Lyford game draws the biggest crowds, so you always want to play your best. (Our) practices have gone well and the kids are excited and ready to get after it.”
Coach Infante had the following to say about the rivalry and preparing for the game. “Being that this is a nonconference game, I treat it like any other game. Tom Landry once said something to the effect of: ‘a disciplined player, needs no motivation.’ Our players know the importance of getting better this week and they understand the rivalry. Just the atmosphere and the hype of the neighboring communities is hype enough, they don’t need a lot of ‘rah rah’ from me. If they do, we got problems. That’s how I see it and this is what I convey to them. The most effective motivation is self motivation.”
I asked what it would take for Raymondville to come away with a win tonight. Cantu said, “They have a high tempo passing attack and have a good running game to compliment their offensive attack. Defensively, we must keep everything in front of us, tackle well and take care of the football.”
I asked Coach Infante about not allowing his team to overlook Raymondville, despite their record, he commented, “Certainly. I constantly preach to our athletes that games are won on the field, not on paper! Raymondville does have a talented team and they are looking for consistency just like a lot of teams are this time of year. Anyone that takes that team lightly could be in for a big surprise. God willing we’re not one of them! (To come away with a win we have to be) consistently executing our game plan both offensively and defensively and eliminating negative yardage situations. It is the key to winning every Friday night.”
Raymondville and Lyford kick off tonight at 7:30 from Bearkat Stadium in Raymondville, Texas.
Story photo courtesy of Raymondville ISD