PI’s Garcia, Rio Hondo’s Lopez earn BH/VMS Co-Utility POTY

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Playing football at the sub-5A level almost always ensures some players will play both sides of the ball.

Port Isabel’s Tristan Garcia and Rio Hondo’s Keyan Lopez didn’t just play both sides of the ball for their teams. They dominated.

Garcia and Lopez are The Brownsville Herald/Valley Morning Star Co-Utility Players of the Year.

Left to right, Rio Hondo’s Keyan Lopez and Port Isabel’s Tristan Garcia. (Andrew Cordero | Special to RGVSports)

Port Isabel head coach Tony Villarreal said one of the reasons his team had so much success the past two seasons was because of Garcia, his do-it-all fullback and linebacker.

Garcia rushed for 728 yards on 126 carries and found the back of the end zone 12 times, including two touchdowns in the area title game, a loss against a very physical Navarro team.

Port Isabel Tarpon running back Tristan Garcia (24) scores a touchdown against Raymondville Bearkats Friday night at Tarpon Stadium. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

The District 16-4A DII MVP on defense had 65 tackles, four sacks and two forced fumbles, and on special teams Garcia had 200 return yards and also was the long snapper. He also threw a touchdown pass.

Garcia respected his role on the team and was a silent leader-type, a leader that sets the example, and he did as the Tarpons captured a district title and a bi-district win in a nine-win season.

Garcia said that he was always willing to do whatever his coaches needed him to do on the field, and he had no problem taking up all of the roles that he had on the field.

“I just enjoy being on the football and doing whatever to help the team to win,” Garcia said. 

“I had a good year, but I hoped as a team we got a little bit further, but injuries happen,” Garcia added.

Lopez spent a lot of his time on the field tracking the ball for the Bobcats, starring as a wide receiver and linebacker for his team.

As a wideout, Lopez was among the RGV’s best, finishing sixth among all reported receivers in the area during the regular season with 47 catches for 829 yards and 13 touchdowns.

One of his biggest performances came during a 57-38 shootout loss to Ingleside, erupting for 278 yards and three scores on 10 catches.

Rio Hondo Bobcat wide receiver Keyan Lopez (8) catches the ball Thursday evening against Port Isabel Tarpons. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald)

He was equally, if not more, dominant as a linebacker, living around the football on nearly every play. The two-way athlete tallied 151 total tackles in just 10 appearances, including a 21-tackle performance against San Diego.

Lopez also displayed game-breaking ability on the defensive side, racking 15 tackles for loss, four sacks, two interceptions and four defensive touchdowns en route to District 16-3A DI defensive player of the year honors.

Lopez said he “stepped it up” at wide receiver this season, but still favors the defensive side of the ball.

“I helped my team however I could,” Lopez said. “I made some big plays for them, and what I could out there every game.”

“On defense I have only grown since freshman year and I think I am going to continue doing better on defense because that is the side of the ball that I like more,” Lopez added.

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