PORT ISABEL, Texas (ValleyCentral) — In 2021, the Port Isabel High School football players have one goal in mind, to bring back Tarpon tradition.
The Tarpons have not enjoyed a winning record since the 2016-2017 season when former Tarpon coach and current Hidalgo Pirate coach Monty Stumbaugh led Port Isabel to a 9-2 season.
Following a 16-year stint with the blue and white, Stumbaugh moved on and the Tarpons have not seemed to recover. In last year’s COVID-ridden season, Port Isabel was limited to just one game, which ended in a 35-28 loss to PSJA Southwest.
Tony Villarreal was a part of the Port Isabel football staff back in the 1980s. After his time with the Tarpons, he continued his career with other Rio Grande Valley football programs, including a head-coaching position for the Weslaco Panthers.
Villarreal rejoins the Tarpons this season as head coach. He hopes to regain a sense of identity within the program.
“This is a very proud community. They expect the Tarpons to win. They expect them to play hard football,” Villarreal said. “The expectation here in Port Isabel is to be the last Valley team playing in the playoffs. That’s just Port Isabel. You have to live up to that type of tradition.”
With a large freshman class exceeding 20 players and a group of hungry upperclassmen, Villarreal is optimistic his team can improve enough to compete once district play starts.
The Tarpons open the 2021 season at Saint Joseph Academy on Friday, Aug. 27, at 7:30 p.m.