The Patriots of Mission Veterans Memorial High School are relatively new to Rio?Grande Valley football. Afterall, it’s only been eight years since the school was opened.

However, Alice coaches know the Patriots pretty well. While scouting the Edcouch-Elsa Yellowjackets before the playoffs last November, coaches caught a glimpse of the Patriots. It was the final game of the regular season, and despite how well Edcouch-Elsa played, Mission Veterans gave them all they could handle. The Patriots lost the game and missed the playoffs because of it, but they earned the respect of Alice’s staff.

“They’re a good football team,” Alice coach Brent Davis said. “They have a great defense, a good quarterback, good running back and just a good overall team. They’re going to be a big challenge for us… the best team we’ve faced so far this season.”

As well as they played at the end of the 2007 season, experience has made them a better team and a mostly senior squad. Half of their starters are seniors like quarterback Richard Alvarado. As a junior, Alvarado passed for 2,027 yards and 14 touchdowns.?He’s also kept the Patriots’ offense moving this season. In Mission Veterans’ first game of the season, Alvarado completed 15 of 26 passes for 176 yards.

Davis described the Patriots as a “mirror image” of the Coyotes. Offensively, they use the spread offense and they run the same defense as Alice. The Patriots’ defense is what has impressed Alice coaches most this season.

“They’re outstanding up front on defense,” Davis said. “They’re going to be the best defense we’ve seen this season. That’s the caliber of team they are.”

The Patriots are 1-1 this season after beating Harlingen South, 20-14, in their opener and then losing, 28-10, to a solid McAllen Rowe team in Week 1.

For Alice (2-0), it is their first game since beating Scotts Valley, Calif. some two weeks ago.

Alice and Mission Veterans were originally set to meet last Friday, but the game was eventually moved to this week after the threat of Hurricane Ike.

It’s a move both coaches said was beneficial.

Mission Veterans didn’t have school canceled, so they were able to get in additional practice time.

“Well, this is football and you have to be able to adapt and overcome,” Patriots coach Carlos Longoria said. “You can’t pay too much attention to things you have no control over. We just practiced and lifted weights and moved on.”

Alice didn’t have the benefit of practicing while school was suspended during the hurricane scare. Still, Davis said the break allowed players to heal from various bumps and bruises. By the game being moved up to today, it moved Alice’s off week to last week, which Davis said could help in his team’s preparation for its District 31-4A opener against Calallen.

“Normally, we have two whole weeks to try and get ready for Calallen,” he said. “Sometimes, that can hurt you, because you end up with a lot of time to dream up stuff you really don’t need.”