(Donna, Tx)-It’s a battle that will feature two teams that could end up winning its own districts in 2012. The 31-5A PSJA North Raiders and head football coach, Bruce Bush enters his fifth season at the helm of the Raiders will play 30-5A Donna Redskins on Friday night at the newly remodeled Bennie La Prade Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. What’s interesting, Bush has been coaching for 42 years and has 233 career victories.
“Either its passion,” he said, “or insanity.”
And for coaches who don’t already have a touch of that “insanity bug,” District 31-5A could definitely cause it.
“Just look, the district has three district champions and seven of the nine teams made the playoffs last year,” said Bush, whose Raiders were one of those playoff teams last year, compiling a 7-4 record before falling in bi-districts. “Everybody expects to win. Everybody is good.
“There’s no weak sister.”
With a loaded offensive front almost entirely returning and a solid running game, the Raiders should be right in the playoff mix.
“Usually you can go down your schedule and say I’ll win this one or I’ll win that one,” Bush said. “We play Donna and Edcouch in our non-district schedule so we really can’t say that. Whoever comes out of this district will probably have a loss or two – it’s gonna be a tight race.”
Both guards – Andrew Benavides (5-10, 190) and Jorge Berrones (5-5, 190) return and will be key in the Raiders’ guard-pulling run block scheme. Benavidez made all district last year while Bush calls Berrones the team’s best-pulling guard. Julio Davila will move from center to strong tackle. Davila was also an all district pick last year
That line will be making holes for one of the Valley’s best running backs – senior Caleb Silva (5-9, 170). Silva returns after a 1,000-plus yards on the ground during his junior year.
Ryan Guerrero will take over quarterback duties for the Raiders. His biggest – and best – target will be tight end EJ Ruiz (6-0, 218), an all-state selection last year as a junior. Guerrero will also have Cristian Hernandez, Art Flores and Orlando Garcia at wideouts.
The Raiders will run out of a Slot T in their run-oriented, power offense. Defensively, Bush is excited about the experience returning, especially in the secondary.
Senior Cristian Hernandez and junior Sammy Lopez return at the corners while Art Flores comes back at free safety. C.J. Barberena (5-9, 185) returns at linebacker after a solid sophomore campaign and will be joined by Nic Romero (5-9, 180), a part-time starter last year and Abel Arias.
“We’re really hoping our experience helps us in the secondary, especially facing teams with a spread offense,” Bush said. “It’s always hard to say how good you’re gonna be until you start playing and where you need to focus on until you’re a couple games into the season.
“In any case, we’re ready to play.”