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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Friday, September 7, 2001

Eagles hope varied offense produces against Panthers

Staff Writer
There could be a little bit of a role reversal tonight at Eagle Stadium, when the Pecos Eagles take on the Fort Stockton Panthers in their second game of the 2001 football season.

The Eagles, who rallied in the final minutes of last week's game to beat Kermit, 25-24, will face the Panthers in Fort Stockton's season opener, and Eagles' coach Gary Grubbs is hoping that Pecos' late-game success throwing the ball a week ago will force Fort Stockton to spread out their defense a little bit more tonight.

"I don't think people will be able to stack the line against us anymore," Grubbs said after quarterback Freddy Torres had touchdown passes to Mason Abila and Jason Gonzales in the fourth quarter, the latter from 17 yards out with 42 seconds to play. "We threw the second most passes of any team (in District 2-4A) last week and completed more than anyone else, so I think the other teams are going to have to back off the line and give our passing game a little more respect."

It's been 12 years since Pecos threw for over 1,000 yards in a season, and they gained under 800 yards through the air the past two seasons. Last season, the Eagles gained 246 yards at Fort Stockton, all but 20 of that on the ground after quarterback Alex Garcia suffered a separated shoulder. Pecos rallied from a 20-7 deficit to tie the score on the final play of regulation, but then botched the extra point kick and lost in overtime, 26-20 when the Panthers hit a key pass over the middle to set up their score while Pecos was unable to throw the ball in their overtime series.

"Their defense is going to be physical. They've got good size, but I think what we do offensively negates what a big physical defense can do, because now they have to worry about us throwing the ball too," Grubbs said.

Fort Stockton coach Gary Roan failed to return phone calls, but sounded optimistic about his team's chances this season when talking to the Fort Stockton Pioneer after the Panthers' scrimmages against Del Rio and Hobbs.

"We really played so power, smash-mouth football against Hobbs," said Roan. "Our line really pushed them around once they got going. That's going to be the strength of this football team this season. They're the ones that should be able to lead us to the Promised Land.

"They're big and they're strong. The injuries really hurt us in the Del Rio game, but our younger players picked things up," Roan told the Pioneer, adding that with two weeks of rest, "We've got plenty of time to get everyone rested for the Pecos game."

"They've got a big front line, and they've got their quarterback back (Blake Yarborough), but they lost a lot of skill players," said Grubbs, whose team struggled at times to defend against runs around the end by Kermit a week ago. Quarterback Josh Jones also threw for 142 yards last week, while Fort Stockton runs the veer offense similar to Pecos, and figures to stay more with the running game tonight.

"It's going to be a tough game for us because they're going to be physical, but their offense is better for us. They try to grind it out instead of doing what Kermit was doing," the Eagles' coach said.

Ralph Rodriguez takes Ben Barron's spot at tailback this season, after subbing for Yarborough at quarterback late last season. Cyril Ward is the Panthers' other quarterback this season, while Ralph Lauderdale is the new fullback for Fort Stockton, which is seeking to end a 23-year playoff drought this season.

As in last year's loss to the Panthers, the Eagles had problems with extra points a week ago against Kermit, converting only once on four attempts. Kicker Matthew Levario fared better running the ball, gaining 189 yards on 28 carries and also catching a key 17 yard pass on fourth down in the final period to help set up Torres' winning TD pass to Gonzales.

"They'll key on Matthew tonight, but that's OK. We've got more than that," Grubbs said. "We didn't give the ball to Mason (Abila) much last week, and we've also got Freddy to run and throw the ball."

Grubbs said linebacker Sammy Gonzales suffered a broken hand in last week's game, but added, "He'll still play with a soft cast on, but Will Armstrong will start there."

Pecos gridders fall to Fort Stockton squads

The second week of sub-varsity play produced the third tie so far for the Pecos Eagles, but no wins as of yet, as five of Pecos' six teams were beaten on Thursday by the Fort Stockton Panthers.

The Eagles' freshman and junior varsity teams, who tied their season openers with Carlsbad at Kermit, lost to Fort Stockton, the ninth graders at home by an 18-14 score and the JV in Fort Stockton, 27-14. Meanwhile, Pecos' eighth graders opened their season at home and were beaten twice by Fort Stockton, the purple team 16-2 and the gold team 14-0. Down in Fort Stockton, the Eagles' purple team played a scoreless tie in their season opener and the gold team was beaten by Fort Stockton, 16-0.

JV coach Brian Gibson said his team had problems even before they got to Fort Stockton. "Our bus broke down and the kids were drained from the heat," he said, and it showed in the first half. "In the first half we didn't show up to play and they did anything they wanted to. We were down 27-0 at the half, and in the second half we showed up and I don't think they got a first down."

Jose Reyes and Bino Barreno scored the Eagles' touchdowns, with Alex Orozco getting the two-point conversion for Pecos.

The freshmen allowed Fort Stockton to score twice in a two-minute span of the second period, the second coming off a bad punt snap, to turn a 6-0 deficit into a 12-6 lead. The Panthers went up 18-6 in the third period before Rashad Terry scored on a six-yard run and Greg Barrera threw to Booker Fobbs for the two-point conversion. Fobbs also had the game's first TD, on a 35-yard pass from Jack Bradley.

The eighth graders' only score in either game came on a safety off a bad pitch-out, after Pecos turned the ball over on downs inside the 10-yard line. Fort Stockton's `A' team had touchdowns in both halves of their win, while the `B' squad got both its touchdowns on the Eagles in the first half.

The seventh graders also were held without a touchdown in both their games, but came out with a tie in the second game of the evening. "On the last play of the game we did a throwback (pass). Our kid was on the six-yard-line, but he fell down," said coach Keith Windham.

Tonight the Eagles' varsity takes on Fort Stockton in solitary of five games involving District 2-4A squads. Clint plays its season opener against Anthony, Fabens hosts Deming, N.M, Canutillo takes on El Paso High and San Elizario faces Santa Teresa, N.M.

Anthony (0-1) at Clint (0-0): The Wildcats were the only team the Lions beat a year ago, as Clint dropped its final nine games after making the playoffs the previous two seasons. The defense and quarterback Tony Alvarado should be better this season. Anthony opened its 2001 season up last week against the team Pecos will play next week, Alpine, losing to the Bucks by a 27-0 score and being outgained by the Bucks, 300 yards to 86.

Deming, N.M. (1-1) at Fabens (1-0): Last week's game may have been a plus for the Wildcats, at least on offense, as they showed they could put points on the scoreboard without running back Vicente Macias having to have a big night. Macias, who averaged over 200 yards per game a year ago, was held to 78, but Fabens still beat Tularosa, N.M., 29-12. However, Fabens' defense allowed over 300 yards rushing, which could mean a close game than usual tonight against Deming, who've had trouble themselves stopping the run over the past several years.

Canutillo (1-0) at El Paso High (0-0): Canutillo's Hector Saldivar ran for 246 yards and three TDs a week ago against Santa Teresa, while the Golden Eagles defense actually held Santa Teresa to minus-9 yards on the night, thanks to a series of quarterback sacks. El Paos High figures to put the ball up more tonight than in recent years under former El Paso Mountain View head coach Howard Wells, who makes his debut with the Tigers tonight.

San Elizario (0-1) at Santa Teresa (0-1): The Eagles' 33-7 loss to Parkland last week only lasted 2 ½ quarters due to a severe thunderstorm, but even that was too long _ San Eli lost fullback/linebacker Santiago Elizade for the season with a neck injury and receiver Jaime Reyes also was hurt after catching a touchdown pass. However, the Desert Warriors' offense is a little less high-powered that Parkland's was, though San Eli will have to improve on their special teams, which allowed two punt returns for scores last Friday.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
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