Much has been made about the Bobcat defense this season, as for the second year running it has been among the best in the Valley, with a combination of size, speed and experience, the unit has helped propel the team into the playoffs again. For those who recall the history, this fact is nothing new, because the old-timers have seen it before.
Defense was the Edinburg trademark in the old days, that and big offensive linemen. From 1936 to 1949 the Bobcats boasted one of the Valley’s stingiest D’s, including 1936 when they allowed just 5.5 points per game and posted six shutouts en route to a district title and 9-1-1 record. During that span the ‘Cats gave up less than 10 ppg in 10 of 14 seasons.
After the great season of 1953, when the team was 11-0-1 and lost in the state semi-finals, the next super season on defense was 1963 with a 5.8-point yield. An average offense doomed the unit to a 5-5 record, at a time when low-scoring, hard-hitting games were the norm.
When Coach Richard Flores came to town in the mid-1970s, he installed a system that would vault the ‘Cats to the top of the Valley charts. From 1976 to 1987 the EHS stop crew was a perennial leader, with a 10-season run during that stretch of sub-10-point efforts. As the program went three-deep for three straight seasons (1982-84) the D was just impossible to score on, allowing 8.3 points in 39 games, 30 of them wins. The ’83 bunch gave up 9.9, and just 6.4 in league play with seven shutouts in a row at one point. In a row! What-what?
But two years down the road, the ‘Cats may have been even better, with eight whitewashings in the 1985 campaign and a flat silly 21 points allowed in 10 district matches. Three TDs. For the season the average was 4.6 in 12 games as Flores and the gang fell one win short of four straight third-round appearances. They beat Victoria Stroman in bi-district that year before getting shutout themselves by a surprising East Central club out of San Antonio.
As offenses opened up in the late 1980s and the area became the home of pass-crazy football and the likes of Lupe Rodriguez, it became harder to hold teams under 10 points. But EHS managed the feat in 1986-87.
In modern times, the closest any group has come to single-digit defensive work for an entire season was in 1998, when Bubba Salinas and the ‘Cats yielded 142 in 13 games, a mark of 10.9; their district performance was on track, at 7.4 per game, but a blowout loss to Judson in regionals ruined the stats that November.
This year’s bunch, then, came into Friday with the title of best defense the Bobcats have had in a decade. The 2001 unit allowed 13.8 in district and 186 for the year, losing in area to Corpus Christi Miller. In 2010 it was 135 in 10 outings, for 13.5, before the Los Fresnos game. Now make it 144 in 11 games, with four nights where the unit allowed less than 200 yards.