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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas


Friday, November 09, 2001

Eagles prepare for playoffs against struggling San Eli

Staff Writer
Last week, whatever could go wrong for the Pecos Eagles pretty much did for most of their game against the El Paso Mountain View Lobos. But that was for only one week. For the San Elizario Eagles, the whole 2001 season has pretty much been a series of bad news events.

San Elizario, which was hoping to field an improved offense this season to offset losses on the defensive side, saw their best defensive player, Santiago Elizade, lost for the season with a neck injury in the opening game, while their leading receiver, Jaime Reyes, also was hurt in the team's loss to El Paso Parkland. Elizade was also supposed to be the team's leading rusher, but in the last two weeks his replacement at fullback, Arturo Hernandez, and the team's quarterback and leading runner, Bo Solis, also have seen their seasons ended by grades and injuries.

So tonight, when San Eli travels to Pecos, the 0-8 Eagles will bring only about 17 players for their final regular season game, while the host Eagles will carry almost that many extra players from the junior varsity, when the two teams meet in a 7:30 p.m. start.

Pecos is already assured of a playoff spot, and will be trying to win seven games in the regular season for the first time since 1986. Last week, they missed a chance to win their first outright district title in 26 years by losing 23-6 at Mountain View, and as a result will be pulling for the Lobos to defeat Fabens tonight. That would keep Pecos from getting a share of the 2-4A crown with a win over San Eli, but it would also guarantee the Eagles a home playoff game next week against either Parkland or El Paso Burges.

"We had a lot of injuries starting with Game 1," said San Eli coach Joe Carrillo. "We've lost about seven players and lost four offensive starters in two games, which just threw everything out of whack."

After winning the district 2-4A title in 1999 and winning four of their first seven games last season, San Eli has dropped 12 games in a row, and this season, the shorthanded Eagles have been giving up an average of 41 points a game while scoring only 6½ per contest.

"They didn't play too bad in the last game we saw on film," said Eagles' coach Gary Grubbs. "But of course, I don't know who's going to be there."

Last week, they lost to Canutillo by a 48-6 final score. Rod Esparza had the Eagles' lone touchdown and is their main running back, after Hernandez lost his eligibility, while Solis suffered a knee injury in the previous week's 75-0 loss to Fabens, with Angel Muela taking his place. He was 0-for-6 with an interception a week ago.

"He's done a good job for what we've asked him to do and with little experience, but it's been tough with all the things we've had to change around," said Carrillo, who only has two seniors in his starting lineup.

Esparza has run for 130 yards in the last two games, and Hernandez and Solis were accounting for the bulk of San Eli's offense before that. "They're running a lot more this year than they have been," said Grubbs, whose team won at San Elizario last season by a 48-12 final score.

Daniel Terrazas became the first Pecos running back in nine years to rush for 1,000 yards in that victory. Tonight, Matthew Levario has an outside chance of reaching the 1,000 mark. The junior has run for 804 yards this season and would need to gain 196 yards to reach the 1,000 mark.

How long he and the rest of the Eagle starters stay in the game will depend on how close the game is. "It just depends on how it goes. We're going to play our starters, because we have to win this game to have a shot at home field (in next week's playoffs)," Grubbs said, though the Eagles have brought up 15 players from the junior varsity, who could see some late game action depending on the closeness of the game.

Aside from the injuries, a lack of participation also has hurt San Eli this season. Carrillo said the school turned in 1,012 students for the UIL bi-annual realignment numbers, about 200 more than Pecos, but has far fewer students participating in football.

"The ones who have stayed out are doing a good job and coming to practice every day," said Carrillo. "That's what keeps it from being a long year. We've got some great students out here, and that's kept us from totally losing it this year."

On defense, while San Eli is giving up over 450 yards per game, Carrillo said defensive end Rene Perez and tackles Manny Aguilar and Tony Ontiveros have done good jobs under the circumstances. "Everybody's going both ways, and we're getting tired, but at least the young kids are getting a chance to play," Carrillo said.

"Defensively they've struggled. They've had a hard time stopping the pass and run," said Grubbs. "They just don't look like they're as fast as they've been the last couple of years."

If the district standings end up in a three-way tie after tonight, Grubbs said Pecos, Fabens and Mountain View would probably flip coins for seeding Saturday morning in Van Horn. Mountain View will face El Paso Ysleta in the bi-district round next week no matter what the outcome of the coin flip, but if the Lobos win the flip a second flip will be held between Pecos and Fabens. The loser will have to play on the road next weekend at El Paso Riverside, which scored 60 points on Parkland last month and set a state single game rushing record the previous week in their win over Burges.

"We're going to send four scouts to go look at the Burges-Parkland game," said Grubbs, while the Eagles won't have anyone scouting tonight's Riverside-El Pao Ysleta contest. "We've got to have two scouts each for Parkland and Ysleta, so we don't have enough to send anyone to Riverside. Odds are we're going to play one of those two unless things go real wrong."

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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