The San Benito Greyhounds and the Harlingen Cardinals line up at the line of scrimmage during the 2022 Battle of the Arroyo. (Photo by T.J. Tijerina)
By PETE BANDA
Special to the NEWS
Die-hard Greyhound fans have waited a full calendar year for this week, as the biggest game in South Texas is upon them. The 99th annual Battle of the Arroyo (BoTA) will feature two top contenders in District 32-6A as the undefeated ’Hounds host the 5-2 Cardinals at San Benito’s Bobby Morrow Stadium on Friday.
While San Benito has experienced unprecedented success over the last four years, the Greyhounds have failed to bring home the BoTA championship since 2018.
This season has been nothing short of spectacular for the 7-0 ’Hounds as they are rarely challenged, routinely providing reserve players significant playing time in blowouts. After a hard-fought 28- 21 victory in its season opener, San Benito went on an unparalleled rampage, outscoring the next six opponents on its schedule by a combined score of 304-45. Still, fans have seen this kind of dominance before, only to have yearly bragging rights stolen by their neighboring nemesis.
Last season, the Greyhounds were similarly loaded with talent and entered the Battle of the Arroyo with a perfect 7-0 record. Despite entering that contest having allowed 26 points all season, the ’Hounds fell into a deflating 17-0 hole in the first half before succumbing to the eventual district-winning Cardinals by a score of 37-21. The lopsided final score validates San Benito’s four-game losing streak as Harlingen boasts an average margin of over 20 points per game.
“We know how long it’s been since we’ve been able to win a BoTA, and this whole team is focused on playing the best game of the season this week,” said game-wrecking linebacker Devon Robinson. “The community supports us so much, and I think they deserve to see us beat Harlingen… It’s a game we must win to accomplish our bigger goal of bringing home a district championship.”
Aside from the coveted community bragging rights, losing the BoTA game has been the number one detriment to the Greyhounds’ pursuit of a district championship in the last half-decade. San Benito has finished as district runner-up each of the previous four seasons, with its losing streak against Harlingen accounting for a third of its six district losses.
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