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Friday, August 31, 2001

Kermit's air attack to test Pecos

Staff Writer

The first half of the Pecos Eagles' football seasons have  rarely resembled the second half of their seasons in recent years, at least  in their opponents' style of play.

Pecos' District 2-4A rivals from the El Paso area, and even some of their playoff opponents, tend to be more pass-oriented, while the Eagles' pre-district foes from around the Permian Basin usually have more run-oriented offenses, which result in lower scoring games.

That may change tonight, when the Eagles open their 2001 season at home against the Kermit Yellowjackets, a team that changed its 2000 season around in the final weeks of play after changing its offense up to a more wide-open attack.

The Eagles won last year's game in Kermit by a 25-6 final score, on the way to their third straight playoff appearance. The Jackets also ended up making the playoffs despite losing their first seven games. Wins in two of their last three contests allowed them to earn a tie-breaker for the third and final District 4-3A playoff berth over Fort Stockton and Alpine, teams the Eagles lost to after their win over Kermit in 2000.

"I'll tell you what, it was a roller coaster," said Jackets' coach Glen Jones, who took over the team at the start of last season. "We played very, very well even in some of the seven losses. Our seniors stayed focused on the new stuff we were doing and finally everything clicked against Fort Stockton, and then we almost pulled it out against Greenwood (a 28-20 loss in the bi-district round of the playoffs)."

"What hurt us last season was we turned the ball over 37 times in our first seven games. I feel like if we were just even in turnovers we would have gone 5-5 or 6-4, but we were minus-15 in turnovers for the year," Jones said.

Four interceptions thrown by Jones' son, Jason, and a couple of fumbled punts helped Pecos last year, and Kermit's offense did little in the team's other pre-district games on offense, which Glen Jones said led to some changes before 4-3A play began.

"We completely changed our offense halfway through the season," he said. "We got shut out two weeks in a row and I felt we had to do something drastic, so during our off-week we put in a wide-open 1-back offense.

"We moved the ball consistently after that the rest of the year, and we moved the ball in our two scrimmages, but we just haven't put it in the end zone as many times as we'd like," he said.

"They're running a 1-back set with plenty of motion. It's a little like Mountain View or Clint, but not quite," said Eagles' coach Gary Grubbs. "I think Kermit will do as well as their quarterback Jason Jones performs.

"They looked OK in their scrimmage (against New Deal last Friday). They did some good things, and I would expect them to come over here as excited as we are about starting the season," he added.

Jason Jones gets one key receiver back in Brandon Combs, who caught 20 passes a year ago, but overall Glen Jones said, "We're a very, very young team. We're playing a lot of sophomores on both sides of the ball … we're not going to grow up by 8 o'clock Friday, but I think we will be by 10 o'clock."

Defensively, Grubbs said Kermit "runs a 4-3, like we do," while Jones said his defense also features a lot of young players, while it is led by linebacker Eric Castor.

"We're starting a couple of sophomores, but probably overall it's the fastest defensive team I've put on the field," he said. "We do make mistakes, but because of our quickness we will be able to recover."

Defensively, the Eagles will try to get better pressure on Jones than they did against Carlsbad two weeks ago in their 4-0 scrimmage loss to the Cavemen. "I think we'll get a pass rush. We've moved some kids around and have them in different positions, and we're not going to sit in our basic defense like we did in the scrimmage. We're going to do some stunting," Grubbs said.

Four of Pecos' five other District 2-4A rivals also open their 2001 seasons tonight, and like the Eagles, all four teams are playing at home. Fabens hosts Tularosa, N.M., El Paso Mountain View takes on El Paso Cathedral, Canutillo is home to Santa Teresa, N.M. and San Elizario host the team that defeated Pecos in last year's bi-district playoffs, El Paso Parkland.

JV gets `shorter' tie than freshmen Eagles

An early start in Carlsbad was better than a later start in Kermit for Pecos' sub-varsity football teams in their season openers Thursday night, even though the results were the same in both places; a tie for the freshmen Eagles against the Cavemen and a tie for Pecos' junior varsity squad against the Yellowjackets.

The only difference was, the ninth graders got to play all four quarters of their 0-0 tie against Carlsbad, while the JV got in just a little over a half of their 8-8 tie with Kermit, before Thursday night's thunderstorms formed and forced cancellation of the game.

"It was called right at the beginning of the third quarter," said JV coach Brian Gibson. "They got to run one series, and then they punted to us and we never got on the field."

Kermit scored first in the game before the Eagles tied it at 8-8 before halftime on a Jose Reyes pass to Lionel Abila, with Beno Barreno getting the tying two-point conversion. "Kermit scored on a blown assignment. They hit us with a big play, and that was it. The rest of the game they did'nt do anything to us," said Gibson.

Freshman coach Steve Cross said both Pecos and Carlsbad had one good scoring chance in their tie. "They got down to the 2-yard-line and we stopped them four times without gaining a yard," he said. "On the other hand, we had one 80-yard drive where we couldn't score.

"We made some mental mistakes that hurt us," Cross said. He added that while the different blocking rules in New Mexico didn't really affect the Eagles, the rule there for off sides on receivers while lining up did hurt once, as it came when the Eagles had driven the ball inside the Carlsbad 20 yard line.

Both Pecos sub-varsity teams will face Fort Stockton next week, while the Eagles' junior high teams will open their 2001 seasons against the Panthers next Thursday.

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