Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas
Thursday, November 16, 2000
Matadors hoping for easier time against Eagles
By JON FULBRIGHT
The past two weeks have held all the fun of a Florida ballot recount
for the El Paso Parkland Matadors and coach Jerry Walker, so it's not surprising
the Mats are glad to be coming to Pecos for Friday's 7:30 p.m. playoff
game against the Eagles.
Parkland, 7-3 and the District 1-4A runner up, and Pecos, the 2-4A runner-up
with a 6-4 mark, will meet at Eagle Stadium in the bi-district round of
the Class 4A playoffs. Pecos is the fifth district team Parkland will have
played this season, having swept the previous four over Clint, San Elizario
and the other two 2-4A playoff representatives, Fabens and El Paso Mountain
But until 10 a.m. on Saturday, Walker and his team weren't sure whether
or not they would even be in the playoffs. Parkland and El Paso Ysleta
won a three-way coin flip over El Paso High, a week after the Matadors
were upset by the Tigers, 17-14. And that came two days after the mother
of running back Artise Cheeks died of a heart attack.
"A lot of the kids on the team were close to Artise's mom," said Walker.
Parkland bounced back from tragedy to beat El Paso Burges, 38-17, but then
had to wait 12 hours to see if their season would continue.
"It's been a trying time through all the trials and tribulations, but
everything worked out," said Walker, whose team was expected to defend
its 1999 district title, but was beaten out by El Paso Riverside, losing
to the Rangers by a basketball-like 53-47 final score.
"We lost three of our kids to grades before that game, and that didn't
help any," said Walker, who did admit; "I expected a little bit more out
of the kids than this."
Cheeks is one of the Matadors' "Big Three" on offense, along with Matt
Austin and Michael Jefferson. Cheeks gained 915 yards and scored nine touchdowns
this year, but that was over 500 yards less than Austin, who ran for 1,462
yards and scored 13 TDs.
"Both of them are top running backs, but we've given the ball to Matt
more, and that's why he has more yards. He's a tougher runner," Walker
"They've got good speed with their two running backs and at receiver
with Cheeks, Austin and Jefferson, but my opinion is they haven't played
a defense as good as we are," said Eagles' coach Gary Grubbs. Pecos allowed
just 347 yards rushing in their five district games this season, but have
given up over 500 yards through the air the past two weeks, in their 27-21
overtime loss to Mountain View and last week's 48-12 win at San Elizario.
"I don't think they're going to throw the ball that much. Their game
is running," Grubbs said. "They're an outside running team that likes to
run the toss. They're a big-play team and that's what their offense is
"Artise is the one that gets outside, and once he goes around the end
nobody is going to catch him," said Walker.
Jefferson has been bothered by a deep thigh bruise the past couple of
weeks, but still ended up with 607 yards receiving and scored eight touchdowns.
"He's only a junior, but he's a division I-A prospect," Walker said. "We
really didn't play him much against El Paso High. We were hoping they would
double-cover him, but they found out he was not 100 percent pretty quickly."
Last week, Austin ran for four touchdowns and 182 yards, while Jefferson
had two catches for 89 yards and a score in the Matadors' win over Burges.
The TD pass came from quarterback Melvin Lucas, who had battled Mike Schure
for the starting job this season.
"Offensively we've been not too bad, but not like last year. We were
the highest-scoring team in the state of Texas last year at 39.5 points
per game, but the biggest thing we lost from last year is our quarterback,"
Lucas played most of the game last week, and "did a pretty good job.
We'll probably start with him on Friday," Walker said.
"To me, he looks like a pretty good athlete. He looks like he's got
some speed and can get after it," Grubbs said.
On defense, Walker said linebacker Juan Macias has been Parkland's leading
tackler, averaging about 10 per game, while the defense has improved with
the return of those three missing starters. "We were just putting people
in where we could find them. The whole left side of the defense was missing,
but they were all back for the Burges game," he said.
Parkland played Mountain View and Fabens on back-to-back weeks in September,
beating the Lobos at home, 35-13, and then winning at Fabens by a 25-19
score. Austin ran for 145 yards and the game's first and final TDs against
Mountain View, and gained 163 against Fabens, while Jefferson caught a
pair of touchdown passes against Fabens.
But the Wildcats ran for nearly 400 yards that night, 244 of that from
District 2-4A leading rusher Vicente Macias, who was gained 109 yards fewer
than that when Pecos went into Fabens and beat the Wildcats in October,
On Friday, the Eagles will be hoping the district's No. 2 runner, Daniel
Terrazas, has the same kind of success Macias had against Parkland. Terrazas
became the first Pecos running back since Myron Jenkins in 1991 to gain
1,000 yards in a season last week, rushing for 185 against San Elizario
to finish with 1,028 yards, with most of that coming during the district
portion of the schedule.
"They've got a lot of speed on defense, but against us they're going
to have to play assignment football because we run the option, and I don't
know if they have that kind of discipline," said Grubbs.
Being able to run the ball is key to Pecos' hopes. Since 2-4A play began,
the Eagles have averaged nearly 400 yards per game on offense, but have
thrown for just 50 yards per game during that streak and have thrown for
just over 400 yards for the entire year.
Last season, Parkland ripped the pass-oriented Clint Lions in the bi-district
round of the Class 4A playoffs, 53-10, but the Mats were then wiped out
by Canyon in the area round, 33-0. This time, Walker is hoping for better
results, though he didn't fare as well with his second coin-flip of the
week _ the Matadors have already lost a flip with Andrews to host their
area round playoff game.
"Last year we went to Odessa and played on the Astroturf against Canyon
and got big-eyed," he said. "This year, we're looking to get this monkey
off our back of having never gotten past the first round."
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.
324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321
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