The regular season for Texas high school football kicks off this week, with many of the top local programs preparing to run a gauntlet of difficult matchups.
But nobody can touch what Monterrey Tech is about to attempt over the next 28 days.
Monterrey Tech will log some serious travel miles over the next month to take on powers from North Texas, Houston and San Antonio.
Friday: Stephenville, 1,029-mile round trip
Sept. 6: Highland Park,
1,190-mile round trip
Sept. 13: Aledo,
1,189-mile round trip
Sept. 20: The Woodlands, 1,032-mile round trip
Sept. 28: San Antonio
Wagner, 602-mile round trip
The Borregos, or Rams, based in Monterrey, Mexico, will journey 5,042 miles by bus in five round trips over 28 days at a cost of $75,000 to $80,000.
Starting Friday, they will play, in order, defending Class 3A Division I state champ Stephenville, Class 4A preseason No. 3 Aledo, 4A powerhouse Highland Park, Class 5A Houston-area power The Woodlands and finally San Antonio Wagner.
Our relationship in playing football with the U.S., especially in Texas, has been going on a long time; I would say 60 years, said Ricardo Garcia, who has served as Monterrey Techs sports information director since 1996. In the past 10 to 15 years weve gone north, trying to get to Houston and Dallas because the teams we used to play close to the border in the [Rio Grande] Valley of Texas, we used to beat them, and the games werent that high of competition.
So we worked and tried to find teams we could play up north. Even though the traveling was harder, those were better games than the ones we used to find down here close to the border.
The Borregos are the powerhouse football team in Mexico, which may not sound like much at first, but a closer look shows a complex feeder system on par with many of the top programs in North Texas.
Borregos is a 60-year-old program, it started in 1945, and football has been going on here in Monterrey since the the 1930s, Garcia said. The university was established in 1943, so two years after the school was born, a bunch of students who loved football and were interested in playing got together and asked the school president at that time if they could put a team together.
Monterrey Tech is spread over five campuses, which the high school shares with the university of the same name. The high school has an enrollment of approximately 2,500, the college has 18,000, and 95 percent of the student body is native to Monterrey.
A Pop Warner league, started almost 50 years ago, serves as a feeder to the high school. Players must try out for the team; 60 make varsity and 40 will travel. The school also has a junior varsity that competes against teams in northeast Mexico.
Some high school players will earn scholarships to the college; others have to try out. Both teams win. A lot.
The college team has appeared in every national championship game since 1997, winning 12 titles in that span. The college team plays Texas A&M Kingsville on Sept. 14 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington.
The high school program, with its regular season in the spring, has won 12 of the past 13 Mexican national championships, including last year.
Nobody has to remind Stephenville coach Joseph Gillespie of Monterrey Techs prowess; the Borregos handed his team a 27-17 loss to open the 2012 season. The Yellow Jackets would rebound and rattle off 14 straight wins on the way to their fifth state title, but Gillespie said this week the loss still stings and hes looking forward to the rematch Friday.
Were anxious to get out onto the field. Im excited about it because I do have a much greater respect for them, Gillespie said. They are going to make us better; win, lose or draw they will make us better.
The Borregos finished 2-3 on the Texas road trip last season, losing to Highland Park, Aledo and The Woodlands before finishing with a win over Wagner. Though Aledo rolled to a 45-6 victory, coach Tim Buchanan came away impressed.
Even though we beat them by 39 points, that was a physical football team, they were as physical, if not more physical, than Highland Park was, Buchanan said. They will come and hit you now.
Monterrey Tech looks to change its format in the future, traveling every other week to ease the toll it takes on the players both physically and academically.
We keep on doing this because our kids love it and for the opportunity not only in football, but the belief we have at this institution to give our kids the opportunity to go abroad and learn from a different culture, Garcia said. They get to compete on another level and they get to represent their country, too, because they are very proud to be known as Mexicos best football team. We have a great relationship with schools in the U.S and in Texas and we want to keep that going.
Jarret Johnson, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @JohnsonJarret
Special to the Star-Telegram
Prepa Tec linebacker Maximiliano Soto Esquer (4) holds the Mexican flag at the start of the game as Monterrey Mexico’s Prepa Tec played Aledo in high school football at Bearcat Stadium on Sept. 14, 2012. The Borregos routinely travel to play Texas teams.
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