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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, August 26, 2005

Eagles open fall tennis season at tournament

The Pecos Eagles’ varsity tennis team opens the fall portion of their 2005-06 schedule this weekend, with tournament play in Fort Stockton.

The Eagles will be in Fort Stockton on Friday and Saturday for matches, before playing their home opener this coming Tuesday against Monahans. It’s one of three home matches on the fall schedule for the Eagles, who’ll host Odessa High a week after Monahans and then close out their fall schedule with a match on Oct. 15 versus Midland High.

Coach Mike Ortiz returns most of his players from last year’s squad that struggled during team play but ended up sending three doubles teams to regional competition this past April.

Team tennis and individual District 3-3A tournament competition won’t begin until the spring, but aside from two dual meets against Monahans, the Eagles will also have a dual meet at Fort Stockton during fall play. Matches with Midland Christian and Midland Trinity on Oct. 1 round out Pecos’ fall schedule.

Eagles trying out changes on offense during tourney

The Pecos Eagles’ volleyball team will try out a few changes to their offense they began using on Tuesday night in Van Horn, when they begin play at 9 a.m. on Friday in their own Cantaloupe Classic Tournament.

Pecos will face Kermit in their opener, with the winner taking on Anthony in an 11 a.m. match. The loser drops into a 1 p.m. match against either Marfa or Sierra Blanca in the play to determine seeding for Saturday’s championship and consolation finals.

District rivals Presidio and Fort Stockton are in the other half of the tournament bracket, opening up against Van Horn and Wink respectively. Pecos scrimmaged Fort Stockton two weeks ago, while falling in two games to Presidio last Saturday, in the consolation bracket of the Monahans Sandhills Tournament.

Garcia said she made some changes to her offense after that loss, which were first tried on on Tuesday, when the Eagles were able to pull out a 25-14, 14-25, 25-27, 25-22, 15-6 win in Van Horn, to improve to 5-8 on the year.

“We came out very, very strong in the first game, but then we let up in the second game,” Garcia said. “We fought to come back in the third game, but we got too far behind.” The Eagles did rally from a 24-18 deficit to tie the game, but then allowed Van Horn to pull out the victory.

“We came out in the fourth game and were ahead all the way,” Garcia said. Pecos was able to edge Van Horn to even up the match, then took control in Game 5 and pulled away for the 15-6 victory.

El Paso Parkland is the other team in this weekend’s varsity tournament, while aside from already facing Van Horn and Presidio, Pecos scored a three-game victory last Tuesday at home over Kermit while losing their season opener at Wink in three games.

The first two games in the championship bracket are scheduled for 6 p.m. on Friday, while the others will take place at 9 a.m. on Saturday. Finals in the tournament are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday at the new Pecos High School gym.

Play began at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday in the new and old gyms for the freshman division of the Cantaloupe Classic Tournament. Pecos faced Alpine in its opener, with the winner moving on to a 5:30 p.m. match against Fort Stockton. Crane took on Presidio and Monahans faced Odessa High in the other opening round matches. The championship semifinals would follow, along with the consolation semis, while the consolation final is set for 9 a.m. on Saturday and the title match at 1 p.m. in the old gym.

In the JV division the Eagles also open up against Kermit, at 8 a.m. on Friday, while Odessa High red plays Alpine in the other 8 a.m. match at the new gym. The winner there takes on Presidio and the winner of that match plays the Pecos-Kermit winner at 2 p.m. on Friday. The loser of the Pecos-Kermit game faces the Alpine-OHS loser in a noon contest.

Midland High faces Monahans and Fort Stockton plays Odessa High white, with the winner there taking on Van Horn. The JV championship and consolation brackets will start Friday afternoon and continue at 8 a.m. on Saturday. Semifinals are set for 1 p.m. in the new gym, with the championship match at 5 p.m.

Eagles looking to avoid Mustang surprises

The Pecos Eagles surprised the Midland Christian Mustangs in the teams’ football season opener two years ago. Last season, it was the Mustangs’ turn to surprise the Eagles.

Friday night, there should be fewer surprises for both teams, when the 2005 season gets underway for Pecos and Midland Christian with a 7:30 p.m. game at Eagle Stadium. Two years ago in Pecos, the Eagles stopped the Mustangs inside the 10-yard line late in the game to preserve a 15-8 win over Midland Christian. But last season, the Mustangs came out at Grande Communications Stadium and went 63 yards on the game’s first offensive play, then returned two punts for scores in the first half of a 32-14 victory.

The two games showed the difference between gaining and losing players by Midland Christian. Coach Gary McClendon lost two of his starters in 2003 when they transferred to Midland High and Midland Lee High School, and ended up finishing last in the TAPPS Division II-District 1 standings. But last season, the Mustangs had Courtney Greer transfer in from Midland Lee and Tim Hamitt transfer from Midland High, and the combination helped Midland Christian win the TAPPS Division II state title.

“Their punt returns caught us by surprise,” said Eagles’ coach Patrick Willis. “We didn’t know how good Tim Hamitt was, and some other teams didn’t, either, because they still kicked to him.”

Greer, who had the long touchdown run to open the game, ended up at Kansas State this season and Hamitt, who had the two punt returns and a long TD catch in the second half, has gone on to play football at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. Combined with the loss of quarterback Corey Culp, it leaves the Mustangs looking to replace their three main offensive weapons.

Corey Burleson replaced Culp as the starting QB, while Jon Hebler will take Hamitt’s place as punt returner and receiver. However, Willis said given the option, the Mustangs will try to stay with their ground game on Friday night.

“They’re going to try and pound the football on you. They’ve got two decent running backs (Alex Martinez and Jamison Berryhill), and they’ll try and pound the football. Their offensive line is big but young, and they’ll try and pound the football on you.” Midland Christian lost their opening scrimmage at Sweetwater, though Willis said, “He (McClendon) felt good about that, since he said they won’t meet anybody like that the rest of the year.” However, the Mustangs also were beaten a week ago in Wall by the Class 2A Hawks.

“They may be a little down after that. Wall got after them and beat them 4-0, but he’s going to adjust. He said he’s got a little work to do, but I know they’re going to have their ‘A’ game against us.”

The Eagles plan to make some changes to their special teams for this year’s game to avoid last year’s coverage problems, along with have a few more of their regulars out on special teams coverage, which along with fumbles and penalties cost Pecos a number of times during last year’s 1-9 season.

Pecos ran the ball well in last year’s game, but failed to take advantage of several scoring chances against Midland Christian went the game was still close. Both of the Eagles’ touchdowns came late in the game, including a 39-yard run by Luis Ortega, who would end up rushing for 918 yards as a sophomore last season.

Ortega and quarterback Eddie Vela combined for 70 yards rushing on Pecos’ first scrimmage series last week at Coahoma, scoring on a 2-yard Ortega run in a 2-0 scrimmage win, while the Eagles went 70 yards on the opening drive the previous week against Andrews, in their 2-2 scrimmage tie with that group of Mustangs.

Vela did hook up with tight end Robert Nunez for a 12-yard pass to open the scoring drive against Andrews, while Willis said the Eagles limited their pass plays last week because they hadn’t worked on handling the blitzing defense Coahoma had used against Greenwood the previous week.

With the injury to linebacker Josh Payan last week, Willis said Vela will move back to the linebacker spot he played a year ago, and will split time at quarterback with Miguel Estrada, who will also be starting on defense, at safety. Estrada had a 42-yard TD run against Coahoma and completed a couple of short passes to running back Donnie Myles. Pecos has yet to go deep with their passing offense, and will try to improve on last year’s 22 yards through the air in their game with the Mustangs. Midland Christian does return a couple of players on defense, including TAPPS all-state safety James Lynch, from last year’s 12-1 squad.

Midland Christian’s junior varsity team was going to make the trip to Pecos on Thursday night to open their season against the Eagles’ JV in a 6:30 p.m. start. With no freshman game this week, Willis said a number of ninth graders would be moved up to fill out the JV roster, which only has 19 players this season.

“They can use the help, and on the freshman side, some of them are going to have to come up and play on Friday night next year,” Willis said. The ninth graders open their season next week by hosting Denver City.

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