This team keeps on coming with the pleasant surprises. Thursday the Bobcats got the usual great efforts from their stars plus some nice contributions from other kids in a season-ending 46-10 rout of Harlingen South at Cats Stadium.

On Senior Night with the game dedicated to former EHS player Joe Vargas (lettered in 1999-2000), who died last week, the ‘Cats (5-2, 8-2) won for the fifth straight week in impressive fashion, rushing for more than 300 yards and holding the Hawks (1-6, 1-9) to 173 total yards. As he prepares his club for the playoffs, Coach Joey Caceres is shaking his head to the positive at how good the season has been so far.

“Every week they seem to get better and better, in different ways,” said the fourth-year mentor who leads his team into the postseason for the second consecutive campaign. “I cannot say enough about how these kids have come through this season, we have a lot of confidence and we’re pretty excited about the playoffs.”

A number of role players came to the fore Thursday, including DBs Brandon Patlan and Erik Trevino, who were excellent on special teams, and junior Favian Quintanilla, who rambled for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Fred Reyna made his appearance in the second half at tackle much to the joy of the crowd at Cats, and end Jazziel Trevino enjoyed perhaps his best night of the season with four QB pressures and a batted pass at the line.

This is the way it’s been in 2010. Caceres can count on Stevie Guerrero (two TDs passing and one rushing against South), and the fine defense (136 points allowed in 10 games). And the offensive line has developed into one of the best units in the league, allowing the ‘Cats to play their patient ball-control game.

In the backfield, senior Aaron Gonzalez is churning as well as he ever has, and he broke the 100-yard mark Thursday in the first half before yielding to the shifty Quintanilla after intermission. Sometimes it seems that behind senior guard Joey Galvan and the rest, Caceres, an ace ball-carrier back in the day with Edcouch-Elsa HS, could pound out a C-note himself.

Tackle Edgar Bustos, the 291-pound senior, is one of four new starters up front along with returning vet Galvan and he says that the line has really come together.

“Each of us is good in our own way,” said the 6-foot-3 behomoth, who has battled through a fractured wrist suffered in Week 5 to play well. “The backs can go either way, to either side, and we feel like we’ll open some holes for them.”

Thursday was a workmanlike effort, with Edinburg grinding out two long drives to start it, gaining a 10-0 lead as Guerrero dived to the pilon from three yards out and Javier Chavez added a 23-yard field goal later in the first. EHS continues to use its soccer trio of Jose Risa, Luis Hinojosa, and Chavez to good effect, and this group makes the unit’s special-teams charge ever better. Chavez made fine squib kicks all night while Hinojosa came on to make a field goal and extra point in the second half.

The linebacker corps is among the best in the Valley and in putting the stops to the Hawks, Adam Alonzo, Ciro Reyna and Roy Ortiz combined for 22 tackles. With junior safety Sal Martinez throwing in a fumble recovery and an interception, the defense was in control throughout, though South did cut the margin to 10-7 and later 16-10 in the first half.

EHS won the field-position war in the second quarter, and was able to tack on two scores from Gonzalez in the last 3:48 to take a 29-10 lead into the lockers. The 8-2 mark is the program’s best since it notched the same record back in 2003, and the 136 points allowed so far is the top defensive effort in 23 years. The 1987 ‘Cats gave up just 104 in 12 games.

In the end, the Bobcats triumphed once again, and started to get ready for Los Fresnos, an up-and-down club from District 32-5A that the EHS bunch will be favored against in bi-district.

With a versatile team peaking at the right time and getting contributions from almost every roster member, Caceres thinks the playoffs might bring more glory for the ‘Cats.

“I was a little afraid of a letdown this week after the big win against the Wolverines,” he noted, speaking of the 33-14 victory at P-SJ-A Memorial that clinched a postseason berth. “But we did what we have been doing, just playing Bobcat Football. You know, we lost 40 seniors last year but this is how we imagined the kids could perform if everything came together and they worked hard.”

NOTES: Rios ran 23 yards for a first down on a fake punt Thursday, while fullback Arnie Alvarado made a crushing cut block to spring Gonzalez loose for a TD run in the second period. Anthony Acosta caught one pass and his risky lateral to Martinez on a kickoff return gave the crowd a thrill.

Check the Review website midweek for an advance on the Bobcat bi-district playoff game, which will be at Los Fresnos Friday night.

SOUTH AT EHS

SOUTH (1-6, 1-9) 7-7-0-0 — 10

EHS (5-2, 8-2) 10-19-7-10 — 46

SCORING

E: Stevie Guerrero 3 run (Javier Chavez kick) 9:45

E: Chavez 23 FG 4:28

S: Bryan Avila 4 run (Joaquin Garcia kick) 1:52

E: Jonathan Gonzalez 16 pass from Guerrero (kick blocked) 11:13

S: Garcia 33 FG 6:24

E: Aaron Gonzalez 18 run (pass failed) 3:44

E: A Gonzalez 9 pass from Guerrero (Chavez kick) 0:48

E: Favian Quintanilla 24 run (Chavez kick) 3:43

E: Luis Hinojosa 23 FG 7:00

E: Quintanilla 3 run (Hinojosa kick) 1:07

STATS

SOUTH: FD 9; RUSH 80; PASS 93; TOTAL 173; TO 2

EHS: FD 21; RUSH 305; PASS 77; TOTAL 382; TO 1

RUSHING: A Gonzalez 8-110; Quintanilla 15-85; Guerrero 7-37; Arnie Alvarado 9-18; Roy Ortiz 1-23; Aaron Garza 4-17; Freddy Guajardo 5-17; Brandon Perez 1(-3)

PASSING: Gurerero 5-11-0 77

RECEIVING: Anthony Acosta 1-22; Justin Hernandez 1-21; J Gonzalez 1-16; Sal Martinez 1-9; A Gonzalez 1-9

TACKLES: Adam Alonzo 11; Roy Ortiz 8; S Martinez 5; Michael Padilla 5/SACKS: Ciro Reyna; Padilla .5 Johnny Espinoza .5/FUMBLE: S Martinez; INT: S Martinez