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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Football `98

Wednesday, Sept. 2, 1998

Eagles hope to run like Tigers

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- How much can a new district produce a new
attitude? The 1998 Pecos Eagles will find that out in about
five weeks. But before then, the Eagles can look towards
Snyder, the team that replaced them in their old district
this season, for some guidance.

The Eagles and Tigers were both members of District 4-4A in
the 1980s, during which time Snyder was pretty awful. They
went 0-for-10 against Pecos in that decade, and winless
against several other teams as well. The Tigers never
finished higher than sixth in the district, which featured
as many as nine teams at one time.

Then in 1990 the University Interscholastic League took
Snyder out of District 4-4A and moved them north, into the
Lubbock-area's District 2-4A. Eight months later, not only
did the Tigers make the playoffs, they beat former district
rival Sweetwater in their bi-district game and made it all
the way to the state quarterfinals.

Now its Pecos' turn to move into the newly-revised District
2-4A, after going through their first winless season in
district play in over 30 years last fall. And without
Andrews, Sweetwater, and the rest of their former rivals to
contend with, the Eagles are favored to not only make the
playoffs but to also win their first district title in 23

"I feel real good about it," Eagles' coach Dan Swaim said.
"I think we're going to have a good football team, but we'll
find out Thursday night how good we are," when the season
opens in Odessa against Denver City.

Swaim took over as head coach from Mike Belew after serving
as an assistant for the past two seasons, during which the
Eagles posted identical 4-6 records. Pecos tied Greenwood
and Monahans in their two preseason scrimmages this season,
but their toughest tests figure to be Thursday's opener,
plus Games 3 and 5, when they host Fort Stockton and travel
to Crane.

But no matter what the outcome of their pre-district
contests, the Eagles can again look to Snyder -- in this
case, last year's Tigers' team -- to see that things can
change drastically once district play begins.

Snyder went winless in pre-district, including a 41-0 loss
to Andrews -- the same team the Eagles would fall to by just
a 17-7 score five weeks later. But when district began, the
Tigers managed three wins in their five games, and ended up
with another trip to the playoffs. There, they were edged by
Dumas, who then got pounded by Andrews, 42-6, showing again
how tough the Eagles' former district has been.

Swaim's 1998 Eagles will have players who have experienced
some of that in both the offensive and defensive backfields,
but will feature almost all new faces on the front lines.

"We got moved out on the line a little bit. I saw some
mistakes, but they're correctable mistakes," Swaim said of
last week's scrimmage with the Rangers. Along with having
mostly new players, the Eagles front line will also be about
30 pounds lighter on average than a year ago.

On offense, their only returning starter is tackle John
Gutierrez, who earned honorable mention all-district last
season. Fernando Rios, a backup last season, will move in as
Pecos' center, as will tight guard Orlando Orona, while
Trevor Warren and Daniel Terrazas will fill the strong side
tackle and guard positions. Warren replaced Jeff Martinez,
who was lost until late October due to a shoulder separation.

Pecos does have one all-district player returning on
offense, but Oscar Luna earned that spot at wide receiver.
This year, he'll be throwing the ball instead of catching
it, as the Eagles' quarterback.

The senior has handled that role as a backup the past two
years, and last season threw just two passes, both off the
option, completing both for 27 yards and a touchdown.

While Pecos is younger and smaller on the line, they're
also faster in the backfield, something that hampered the
Eagles the past several seasons. However, Swaim said this
year's arrangement will be "backfield by committee" instead
of focusing on any one rusher.

Lucio Florez gained just under 300 yards in limited action
last season, and has been the team's top rusher in scrimmage
play, operating out of the wingback and fullback slots. Mark
Abila gained just over 250 yards in the first half of last
season, and will start at tailback, while Hector Garcia and
Jacob Esparza have split time at the fullback slot so far in
scrimmage play. Len Carson, who missed both scrimmages with
an injury, will also add some speed to the Eagles' backfield.

"We're going to try and do more ball control this year,"
Swaim said. "We're going to try and play real good defense
and play ball control on offense."

With Luna at quarterback, Pecos' top returning receiver is
tight end Manuel Contreras, who has seven catches for 131
yards and two touchdowns last season. Florez caught six
passes and Abila had two receptions, while Jason Payne, who
will replace Luna at wide receiver, had a 19-yard TD catch
against Sweetwater for his only reception last season.

Payne spent more time in the defensive secondary, which is
where Pecos will have the most experience. Luna was an all
district pick last season with six interceptions, though
he'll see less action there this year, as Garcia and Freddie
Torres share time at the cornerback slots. Abila, an
all-district pick two years ago, returns at free safety and
Payne will be back as the Eagles' strong safety.

Three players who saw some varsity action last season,
Robert Gonzales, Joe Robert Lara and Rudy Nunez, are listed
as the Eagles' starting linebackers for 1998, while Cesar
Coria is back from injury that kept him out of last week's

On the line Pecos also gets back Alonzo Valencia at
defensive end, after he missed Friday's scrimmage with a
knee injury. Orona, Contreras and Warren are among Pecos'
other ends, while Gutierrez, Jacob Weidner, Francisco Coria
and Micha Huffman are listed in the defensive tackle roles.

Gutierrez spent some time last season as Pecos' punter, but
this time around, he's scheduled to handle kickoffs, while
Louis Valencia will be the punter. Either Gutierrez,
Valencia or Weidner will handle placekicking duties this

The Eagles have started fast several times in the 1990s,
going 5-0 in 1993 and 4-1 last year, only to falter when
district play rolls around. This year, with all-new district
rivals and a potential bi-district game against another El
Paso school, the Eagles have a shot not only to end their
long playoff drought, but also to still be playing well into

Bears trying out underdog's role

BALMORHEA, Sept. 2 -- Balmorhea Bears' coach Ennis Erickson
likes the underdog role his team will be working from during
the 1998 season.

After a trip to the six-man state semifinals in 1994, the
Bears have been one of the favorites in District 8-A six man
the past three seasons. However, last year, a pair of
mid-season losses to Grandfalls and Sierra Blanca left the
Bears on the outside looking in when the playoff arrived, as
they lost a coin flip for second place to the Sanderson
Eagles and saw their streak of three straight postseason
trips ended.

This year, the Bears' district number has changed -- from
8A to 7A -- and while their opponents remain the same, their
preseason prospects are lower than at any time since 1993.

Balmorhea is picked in the middle of the District 7-A pack,
which has Grandfalls favored to win its third straight title
and Sanderson favored for the second playoff spot for the
second year in a row.

"I think we can surprise some people as long as we keep our
attitude up and work hard," said Erickson, who is in his
second season as Balmorhea head coach after serving as an
assistant under Michael Barrandey. "Overall, we have about
the same amount of speed, we just don't have it as
centralized. Last year we had Debe (Mendoza). This year we
done have one kid with that speed, but overall, we're about
the same."

Balmorhea only lost three players to graduation, but two --
Mendoza, and Zane Rhyne -- were all district first team
selections, with Mendoza earning most valuable player honors
on defense.

That still leaves Balmorhea with four returning starters,
three of who earned all-district honors last season.

Arturo Miranda was a second team selection both on offense
and defense for the Bears, and two other seniors, Melchor
Avalos and Patrick Craven, were also second team selections
on offense.

Miranda scored 27 touchdowns, mostly as a rusher in the
first half of the season while Mendoza recovered from a knee
injury. He had more receiving TDs in the second half,
finishing up with eight overall.

Craven had two touchdowns last season at wide receiver and
Avalos one as the Bears' blocking end, while two others,
Travis Woodruff and Billy Lozano, had seven TDs apiece.
Lozano was pressed into service as a freshman when junior
Billy Lozano left the team, but Lopez, who had a key role in
the Bears' 1996 playoff squad, is also back this year.

"Roger's back, and that helps, and Billy played a lot his
freshman year when we weren't counting on him. But this year
he's going to have to step up even more," the Bears' coach

"From the group that played last year like Arturo we've got
some experience back, and there are others who are ready to
take on the task that weren't in as much," Erickson said.

Junior Matthew Sanchez will take over for Rhyne at
quarterback while Miranda will start at deep back. "That
will help us a little bit having somebody back there who
knows what's going on," said Erickson.

The Bears' first unit did well on offense last week in
their scrimmage against district rival Buena Vista, as
Woodruff, Lopez and Avalos all had touchdown runs.

Defense is where the Bears slipped last year, costing them
a fourth straight playoff trip. They gave up 62 points in
both their district losses and surrendered 41 in their other
defeat last season, to Westbrook.

"We've got three (starters) back defensively in Arturo,
Travis and Melchor, and Right now we're looking at several
guys, but there's nobody for sure," said Erickson. "They've
all just jumped in and are kind of working at it."

The Bears had both their preseason scrimmages at home, but
won't get to play an actual game in Balmorhea until they
host Dell City on Oct. 16, after the schedule is already
half over. The Bears also close out their long road stretch
with back-to-back games against defending state champ Borden
County and Grandfalls, though they will take a week off
between the game at Grandfalls and their home opener against
the Cougars.

Erickson said the difficulty of filling a schedule in West
Texas is the reason for the Bears' unbalanced schedule.

"With us way out here, we've got to play the ones we can
find. We can't be picky," said Erickson, who was unable to
fill the Week 2 hole on this year's schedule. "The only team
we could find was Abbott (north of Waco), and it didn't seem
to make much sense to even play them halfway, because it's
such a long trip.

"If we can find somebody who is willing to play there one
year and one year at your place, you take it. Last year, we
played the El Paso school (Faith Christian) here, so we have
to go there this time, but I think we can do pretty well by
our selves with the schedule we've got."

A strong showing at Borden County on Sept. 25 will
certainly cost the Bears their role of underdog, and beating
the Cowboys the following week on their home field will be

"We've got a two week stretch that's pretty tough, but
we've got an open date after that, which will give us a
chance to recover," Erickson said. "Whatever happens (in
Grandfalls), that's just one district game, and then we have
a chance to hit the last five weeks pretty hard."

Grandfalls is favored to take the District 7A six man title
based on the return of offensive MVP Roy Vasquez and four
other all-district picks.

The Cowboys, who lost to Borden County in last year's
playoffs, have first team blocking end Andy Levya, first
team fullback Danny Santiago and first team quarterback
Ronny Vasquez returning for their senior seasons, along with
second team center Jason Carter. On defense, Santiago and
Roy Vasquez were first team picks at tackle and end, while
Levya and Carter made the second team at tackle at free
safety and a sixth senior, Sean Francisco, was picked to the
squad as a defensive end.

Sanderson has a trio of first-teamers returning on offense,
in back John Kennedy, center Juan Luis Ponce and quarterback
Jesse Martinez. Ray Sanchez is back at tailback after
earning second team honors as a junior, while Tyler Cantu
was a second team wide receiver selection as a sophomore.

Defensively, the Eagles have two other players, senior
cornerback Johnny Cavendar and junior safety Roland
Rodriguez, returning after earning first team honors in 1997.

Dell City is picked to finish ahead of Balmorhea in one
preseason poll -- despite a 1-5 district record last year --
based on the play of a trio of juniors who earned
all-district honors last season. Jesse Duran was a first
team pick at wide receiver, while Jaime Garcia was named to
that spot on the second team. Omar Linares was a second team
pick both at spread back on offense and cornerback on
defense, though no other Cougar was named to the squad on
that side of the ball.

Sierra Blanca graduated their top player, in David Arnold,
after tying Balmorhea and Sanderson for second last year.
They do get back first team blocking end Brian Jackson, and
second team tailback Morino Mascarinas. The pair also were
second team picks on defense, at tackle and linebacker,
while Tim Bustamante was the only freshman in the district
to make the squad, earning a second team spot at free safety.

Buena Vista is looking to bounce back after winning the
district title just two seasons ago, after a 2-4 mark in
1997. They'll be looking for help on offense, where utility
back/kick returner Zack Braden is the Longhorns' lone
all-district player, while on defense, end Cody Cooper and
linebacker Albert Gonzalez joined Braden as second team

Marathon is still fighting the numbers battle, after a
winless district season last year. No Mustang earned
all-district honors, but they do get back all but one of
their starters on offense and defense, including senior
quarterback Marcelino Hernandez and sophomore tailback
Johnny Samudo, who combined for four touchdowns against
Balmorhea last year.

New alignment leaves everyone happy

Staff Writer
PECOS, Sept. 2 -- When the bi-annual realignment by the
University Interscholastic League was announced at the end
of January, it presented a tremendous opportunity for the
Pecos Eagles.

After years of going up against teams like Andrews,
Sweetwater and Big Spring in District 4-4A, the Eagles were
moved west, into the new District 2-4A. The travel won't be
much different for football (Pecos travelled 1,500 miles to
and from road games in 1996 -- they'll do only 1,220 this
year), but instead of facing one, or sometimes two teams
ranked in the Top 20 in Class 4A, their opponents will be
three teams just up from Class 3A, two teams that had to
petition to keep from going into 3A, and no teams that made
post-season play in 1997.

That last reason is why not only the Pecos Eagles, but the
Canutillo Eagles, the San Elizario Eagles, the Fabens
Wildcats, Clint Lions and El Paso Mountain View Loboes are
all happy to be part of the new district. And all of the
Eagles opponents will be even happier if they can knock off
Pecos, which was named the pre-district favorite despite an
0-5 mark in District 4-4A last year.

New coach Dan Swaim said the players have a better attitude
this year, after the Eagles sabotaged themselves a year ago
through missed practices and missing players when 4-4A play
began. The Eagles did lose quarterback Jason Abila and
running back Richard Gutierrez, but return their backups, in
quarterback Oscar Luna and running backs Lucio Florez and
Hector Garcia. The Eagles also get most of their secondary
back, while hoping that the new starters at linebacker and
on the offensive and defensive lines can do the job this

Until the arrival of Monahans in Class 3A two years ago
Clint was always around at playoff time. They missed out to
the Loboes and Alpine Bucks each of the past two seasons,
but should be back this year, led by 2,700 yard quarterback
D.J. Check, who'll hope that Jeremy Arnold is as good a
receiver for him as his older brother James was in 1997.
He'll be working with a mostly new line, though the Lions
will have experienced players back on the defensive side of
the ball.

Fabens gets back their 1,200 yard rusher, Mike Morales, and
will have one of the bigger front lines in the district this
season. However, like Pecos, the Wildcats' line will be a
new one, and time will tell how they fare. A favorable
pre-district schedule, with Deming, El Paso Cathedral and
Presidio on tap, should get the Wildcats going in the right
direction before their 2-4A opener in Pecos on Oct. 9.

As the newest school in the district, 10-year-old El Paso
Mountain View has never made the playoff. Like their sister
school, Clint, the Loboes figure to be strong on passing
this season, with Adolfo Villa having thrown for just under
2,000 yards last season. He'll also have his entire
offensive line back, along with running back Frank Correjo,
who gained 800 yards in part-time action a year ago.

Canutillo finally got a district to call its own two years
ago, after a decade of being shuttled from Class 3A to 5A to
independent status by the UIL. This year, the Eagles will
actually be the biggest school in the district in terms of
enrollment, though coach Mike Craig said they're smaller in
terms of size than a year ago. Canutillo struggled to run
the ball in their season opener against Del Valle, but Jesus
Navarrette and Richard Kostl threw for over 180 yards, half
of that to Ignacio Juarez, who also had six interceptions as
a defensive back last season.

If they had played football in Texas 350 years ago, San
Elizario, as the only town in the state, would have won it
all. As it is, the historic mission site has been one of the
poorest school districts in the state in recent years, and
its growth has bumped it up three classifications since the
mid 1980s. That's made it tough for the football program to
keep up, as a 1-9 record in 1997 will attest, but the new
district will help the Eagles, as will having starting
quarterback Mike Perez and running back Eddie Figueroa
returning this season.

Lobos hunt way into post-season play

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- The El Paso Mountain View Lobos are in the
Clint Independent School District, but they're not in Clint.
In fact, you've got to travel through two different towns
and take about a 20-mile detour to get from the Mountain
View on the north to Clint on the south.

That said, the trip Mountain View would like to take this
year is their first ever to the state football playoffs, in
their first year as a member of Class 4A.

The Clint ISD created Mountain View High school 10 years
ago (it's so far away from the rest of the district, it's
actually closer to Pecos by going through Orla and Guadalupe
Pass than by I-10, which runs north of Clint) as the
population began to grow on the far northwest edge of the El
Paso area. And while other teams, like basketball, have
already enjoyed playoff success, it's been a slow build for
the Lobos' football team.

But last season, Mountain View finished with a winning
record, at 5-4, and placed third in District 3-3A with a 3-2
mark, losing only to Monahans and Alpine. This season,
despite moving up in rank, coach Howard Walls feels his team
will be playing on past the final week of regular season
play for the first time ever.

"We have our whole offensive line, our quarterback, running
back and one wingback back," said Wells, whose team should
be able to move the ball both on the ground and through the

Quarterback Adolfo Villa was only the second-ranked passer
in the Clint ISD last year, behind the Lions' D.J. Check.
But Villa racked up numbers that aren't too shabby -- 1,950
yards, 15 touchdowns and a 54 percent completion average

"He was third in the state passing (in Class 3A)," Walls
said, though he does want Villa to cut down on his 27
interceptions this season.

While the Lobos put the ball in the air a lot last season,
Walls said overall, "We're about a 60-40 run-pass team. We
run the ball with the one back and three wide receiver
offense," similar to the one used successfully in recent
years by San Angelo Lake View.

The back figures to be Frank Carrejo, who gained 817 yards
a year ago on just 125 attempts, while splitting time with
Rudy Lopez in the backfield. "Frank's about 5-10, 200
pounds. He's a tank-type fellow, while Lopez (who has
graduated) was very elusive," Walls said.

At wide receiver, Mountain View has a pair of starters
back, in Mike Alcala and Israel Melendez. Alcala had the
most catches of the two, with 21 a year ago.

Up front, Walls said the line is led by tackle Javier
Rodriguez and guard Jaime Marquez, who were honorable
mention all-district picks a year ago. They also get tackle
Edward Corralejo, guard Hector Corral and 300-pound center
Eddie Corral back this season.

"They did play well last year. They made a lot of mistakes
as far as young kids go," he said of their play a year ago.
"But the offensive line is a real good group of young men.
They average about 250 pounds, and they've worked hard (in

Walls also said he wants to try and go with all one-way
starters, if possible. As a result, "Defensively, we're
young. We've got sophomores starting at middle linebacker,
another sophomore starting at right linebacker, one starting
at defensive end and another in the rover position."

Mountain View's experience there will come from free safety
Raul Chavez, who is moving there from outside linebacker
last season, where he averaged 10 tackles per game.
Cornerback Freddie Terrazas was an honorable mention pick a
year ago, and junior Victor Gonzales returns at strong
safety. Martin Perez is the other Lobo expected to see time
in the secondary.

With Chavez moving into the defensive backfield, Walls said
Frank Torres will be his lone returning linebacker, but
added that sophomore Carlos Gonzales "will start at the Sam
(strong side) linebacker, and I think he's going to be a
really good high school player."

On the line, Walls said after Mountain View's opening
scrimmage against EL Paso Del Valle that defensive tackle
Danny Campos "had an outstanding scrimmage. I feel like
he'll be one of the better defensive linemen in the league."

Along with Campos, the Lobos coach expects a third Corral,
Hector, to play a key role on the line. Walls said Corral
will start at defensive end after playing tight end on
offense in 1997.

Walls said both he and his team are excited about the move
up to Class 4A this year, and Mountain View has given itself
one of the better pre-district schedules in 2-4A, with games
against Class 4A El Paso Parkland and Bowie, and Class 5A El
Paso Ysleta up in the first five weeks of the season. "Just
the level of competition and the better quality of coaching
makes it more of a challenge," he said. "Being a small 4A
will be quite a change for the kids, but I think it's going
to be real competitive for the district this year."

Air-Lions hope to fly Check's arm to playoffs

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- Don't expect to see many of the Clint
Lions' football scores in the Saturday morning papers this
year. Sunday will be more like it, because aside from the
one-hour time difference between Clint and the Permian
Basin, the way the Lions throw the ball, there may be some
Friday night games in California that end earlier.

Last year, Clint slumped to a below-par 4-6 record, but
quarterback D.J. Check set some records of his own. Check
led all Class 3A quarterbacks in passing, throwing for 2,741
yards and 27 touchdowns. He also threw the ball on average
over 39 times a game, so the clock did not move fast during
the Lions' games.

Check had a 47.6 percent completion percentage a year ago,
and although he lost his prime target, James Arnold, to
graduation, head coach Bill Culpepper said there are enough
other receivers coming back to keep Check's passing numbers
up in 1998.

"Jeremy Arnold was all-district as a sophomore and is a
solid candidate for the all-state team," Culpepper said of
James' younger brother, who had 55 receptions for 891 yards
and five touchdowns in his first varsity season. "We also
have David Elias, who's pretty good, and Will Gonzalez and
Sergio Medrano."

Elias and Gonzalez are seniors, while Medrano is a junior.
"Sergio never played football before. We found him in a PE
class, and he's real solid, even though he's just learning
football right now," the Lions' coach said.

At tight end, Culpepper said he's "very happy" with Patrick
Tullius, who moves into the starting role after playing on
the junior varsity last season.

While Clint figures to use a lot of one-back sets,
Culpepper said the Lions will also go with two backs at
times. Fullback Alonzo DeLeon ran for 366 yards last season,
and tailbacks Juan Portillo and D.J. Shephard will also get
some carries in, "He (Shephard) will contribute on both
sides of the ball," the Lions' coach added.

Up front, Culpepper said Clint will be young and relatively
small. "We average about 200 pounds on the line. We're
rather smallish compared to several people we play, but with
the things we do, you don't need kids 270-pound up front.

"We've got two sophomores and three juniors. They're good
athletes, good kids and good learners, but we lost everybody
off the offensive line except (tackle) Tony Balderas," he
said. "He looked real good (in their scrimmage with El Paso
Ysleta), and center Richard Fierro also looked good."

Like their sister school, El Paso Mountain View, Clint is
trying to use as few two-way starters as possible. As a
result, while the offensive line is young and small, the
defensive front is both big and experienced. That group
includes tackles Lorenzo Pena and Mondo Moreno and ends Hugo
Rivas and Mike Peace.

"Peace is one of our bigger kids. He's about 6-3 and 240,"
Culpepper said. "Moreno is about 6-2, 240, Perez is 5-11 and
about 225-230, so we've got a little bit more beef up here."

The Lions' coach is hoping the extra year will result in
and improved run defense in key games. "When we played
Monahans and Colorado City we did not do very well. Against
other teams we were more successful," he said.

Clint will also have some experience in the linebacking
corps, where DeLeon returns and is joined by Josh Duran and
James Patton.

Along with DeLeon, Culpepper said Will Gonzalez and Elias
also could be two way starters, with the two receivers
spending their time on defense in the secondary. However, he
said seniors Richard Porras, Alfonzo Mendoza and Juan
Portillo will handle three of the four available spots, at
strong safety, free safety and cornerback, while Albert Diaz
is the leading candidate for the other cornerback spot.

Along with his quarterback duties, Check will also serve as
Clint's punter, after averaging about 37 yards per kick in

Like the other coaches in District 2-4A Culpepper is
excited about the new district, and said for Check and some
of his other players, "The big thing (the move from 3A to
4A) is they'll get some more media exposure. We're also
excited that the bulk of the district is right here around
us. San Elizario and Fabens are just five miles away,
Mountain View is about 25 miles and Canutillo is just 35 or
so. That's a lot better than going to Monahans, Alpine and

"But the thing I'm most excited about is the level of
competition. I feel like anybody in the district this year
can beat anybody else on any night," Culpepper said.

`Cats look to take step up in standings

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- The Fabens Wildcats had to take a step
back in the pack for the past two seasons, after the
Monahans Loboes became members of District 4-3A.

Fabens had usually battled Alpine and Clint for a berth in
the playoffs in the decade before the Loboes' arrival, but
were dropped back a spot in 1996, and last season finished
fifth in district, going 1-4 after a 3-2 start.

Based on that, moving up to Class 4A shouldn't be a great
thing for coach Ronnie Hernandez' team, but not only will
there will be an extra post-season berth to shoot for this
season, but the Wildcats will return several of their key
players on offense this fall, though Hernandez said the
number of returning starters overall is low.

The veterans are led by tailback Mike Morales, the top
returning rusher in 2-4A, after going for 1,275 yards as a
junior in 1997, along with quarterback es in the early part
of the season.

Valenzuela shared the quarterback spot with senior Freddie
Andrade a year ago. this season, Hernandez said, "He's doing
a real good job. ... He throws the ball decently, and he's a
lot more confident with the offense."

Junior Sammy Avila, a reserve running back last season,
will serve as his backup.

Unlike most of their nearby district rivals, Fabens plans
to focus their offense around their runners, led by Morales,
with either Ricky Barrow or Jaime Guerrero starting at the
fullback slot.

When they do throw, Valenzuela will have two-year starter
Mario Gomez back at wide receiver. "He' our primary
receiver," Hernandez said. "He's about 6-3 and has good
speed and good hands, and he's also an all-district tennis
player," though the Wildcats coach added that Gomez will put
off his tennis playing until the Spring season.

While the backs and receivers will have been through
varsity play before, Hernandez said it will be different on
the line. "We're going to be very young. We've got a little
bit of talent, but we're going to be very young," he said.

Fabens does have another two-year starter back, in
strong-side offensive tackle Caesar Escobar. "I think he's
going to be a force in district," said Hernandez, who feels
the senior will be an all-district pick by the time the year
is over. "He's just 6-0, but he's 291 pounds, so he's going
to be a force in there."

Hernandez added that senior center Mike Goddard "is really
doing good," and at 250 pounds will also be one of the
bigger linemen in the district. Ben Gutierrez and Rick
Erskine are other linemen Fabens will be looking at, while
Bobby Chavez will start at tight end. "He doesn't have the
same size, but he played a lot better than what he is,"
Hernandez said.

Defensively, Fabens will also have most of their returning
starters in the backfield, led by cornerbacks Fernie
Martinez and Sammy Avelar. Martinez had two interceptions
and Avelar one last season, and Hernandez said, "It's a
strong unit. They're good cover people and can run well.

"Where we could be hurting is in the middle," he added,
though he said newcomer Vince Culbreth is doing a good job,
and the Wildcats have several other reserves from last year
back, including Alam Canales and Greg Robles.

Hernandez said whichever one between Barrow and Guerrero
doesn't start at fullback on offense will find a home on
defense, at linebacker. He also plans to use Gomez at that
spot, while up front, the line will be led by returning nose
guard Charlie Roman, who earned all-district honors as a
sophomore in 1997.

Josh Hernandez, another returning wide receiver, will also
be back this season as Fabens' placekicker.

Like his other 4-3A rivals in Clint and Mountain View that
took the step up to 4A this season, Hernandez cited the
shortened travel schedules as a reason to be happy about the
change. "We don't have to make those long trips anymore,
except to Pecos, and I think this is going to be a pretty
competitive district," he said.

Fabens begins their 2-4A schedule in Pecos on Oct. 9, while
their only other 100-plus mile trip is for this Friday's
season opener, at Deming, N.M.

New home a better fit for Canutillo

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- It used to be that four years ago you
couldn't go any further west in Class 4A than Pecos. But
since then, not only does 4A division reach West of the
Pecos, it now goes West of the Rio Grande to Canutillo,
where this group of Eagles' isolation has left them
struggling in football for the past decade.

Canutillo has been at Class 4A enrollment since the
mid-1980s, but because the next closest 4A school was in
Pecos, 220 miles away, the University Interscholastic League
bumped the Eagles straight up from Class 3A to Class 5A in
1986, sending them up against schools like El Paso Socorro,
Eastwood and Bel Air. While that's not quite as bad as, say,
tossing them into District 4-5A with Odessa Permian and
Midland Lee, the results were bad enough that the UIL
allowed Canutillo to play an independent schedule -- 10
non-district games and no playoff possibilities -- for six

The Eagles got some relief in 1994, when the UIL created a
new 4A district for El Paso. But Canutillo was still the
second-smallest school of the seven 3-4A squads, and that
resulted in four straight losing seasons, though Canutillo
came close in 1997, going 4-5 on the year and just missing a
playoff berth with a 2-3 district record.

"As far as being able to compete, we went to Ysleta for the
last game last season, and when they introduced the seniors,
they had more seniors than we had players," said fourth year
coach Mike Craig. But now, with the creation of the new
District 2-4A, the Eagles have the biggest enrollment of the
six schools in the district.

However, before Canutillo can start picking on the "little
guys" the way the El Paso 5As did to them, Craig's squad
will try and improve on their leaky rushing defense from a
year ago.

Canutillo joined San Elizario in getting an early start on
the season. They dropped their season opener to El Paso Del
Valle, 22-18, but did cut down their rushing defense
numbers, giving up 216 yards, about 140 less than their
average in 1997.

Canutillo has nine of their 11 defensive starters
returning, and Craig said "Most of the kids are seniors this
year. They've been playing since they were sophomores, so
they've been through it a couple of times."

Of that group, linebacker Ricky Ortega and cornerback
Ignacio Juarez earned All-District 3-4A honors last season.
Juarez led the district with six interceptions and in the
season opener last Friday, caught four passes for 92 yards
as a wide receiver.

Alex Noriega also returns at linebacker for Canutillo,
while in the secondary, the Eagles have Israel DeLaRosa,
Ruben Allende and Angel Villalobos back this season.

The line also has experience, though Craig said defensively
they'll be lacking size. "Our front five goes about 185-190
to 220. We're not going to be as big as some of the other
teams," he said.

Defensive tackle Zane Gentzler, who also serves as kicker
and tight end, weighs in at the 210 level, while end Manny
Gutierrez weighs 220 pounds, so the line will hold its own
with the others in the district.

On offense, Craig said "We're going to open it up and throw
it," and it showed in the season opener, when quarterbacks
Jesus Navarrette and Richard Kostl combined for 184 yards
through the air.

Craig said Navarrette "has a straight A grade point, so he
knows what he's doing out there. He's got a good arm and
he's not super-fast, but he can get around."

Fullback Pete Terrazas only gained two yards on Del Valle's
defense in the opener, as the Eagles struggled to run the
ball. But Terrazas ran for 962 yards last season, and at 5-8
and 220 pounds, is tough to bring down once he gets started.
Halfback Danny Rodriguez gained over 500 yards last season,
while Ortega and Gilberto Gonzalez were also used at running
back in the opener.

On the line, Craig listed tackle Victor Garibay and guard
Danny Moreno has his top returning players. of the others,
"One didn't play last year, but started as a sophomore, and
the other is a senior."

Juan Torres, another senior, is listed as Canutillo's
center, while Noriega is one of the other guards Craig can
choose from.

San Elizario seeks to end hard times in football

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- Lots of `suburban' schools in Texas have
experienced rapid growth during the 1980s and 1990s. In West
Texas, schools like Greenwood, Abilene Wyile and Frenship
have gone from Class A level to 3A or 4A status in the space
of 10 to 12 years from growth outside Midland, Abilene and

San Elizario falls into that category -- sort of. The
growth of the lower valley in El Paso more than tripled the
school's enrollment from 1984 to 1994, and the Eagles went
from playing games against district rivals like Sierra
Blanca, and Fort Hancock to going up against El Paso
Riverside and El Paso Ysleta the past two seasons.

But unlike Greenwood, Frenship of Wylie, which had plenty
of room to expand and the money to do it, San Elizario is
boxed in by Socorro to the west and Clint to the north, and
for years has been one of the poorest school districts in

The lack of facilities (until a new school was built three
years ago, there was only one gym for the entire district)
has hampered the high-cost athletic programs like football,
and the quick move up through the classifications have given
the Eagles little time to adjust to their new opponents.

San Elizario could have gone back to Class 3A this season,
having fallen just under the 700-enrollment cutoff point,
but petitioned to remain in Class 4A. not only does that get
the Eagles out of some costly 200-plus mile trips for the
next two years, but they also figure to be more competitive
overall in their new District 2-4A surroundings than they
would have been either by dropping back to 3A or by staying
with the El Paso and Ysleta Class 4A schools.

"We've got a few people back, and we're going to be better
this year," said coach Joe M. Carrillo, whose team went 1-9
a year ago.

The Eagles are let by their all-purpose back, Mike Perez.
Playing at quarterback last season, he completed 60 of 129
passes for 658 yards and seven touchdowns, and also ran for
another 198 yards. On defense, he was a second team pick at
cornerback, and in this past Friday's season opener against
Santa Teresa, N.M., Perez ran for 29 yards and a touchdown,
was 2-for-8 passing, hand an interception and even blocked a
kick in the Eagles' 20-12 loss.

Along with Perez, San Elizario had has running backs Eddie
Figueroa and Adrian Vivar back. Figueroa ran for 217 yards
last year and gained 37 with a TD in last Friday's opener,
while the Eagles also got some yardage out of backs Benny
Gonzalez, Vincente Rodriguez and Mike Tapia in the losing
effort. Gonzalez also joins Perez as the team's main kick

Defensively, Perez and linebacker Daniel Ramirez are the
Eagles' top players. Ramirez earned all-district honors last
season for San Elizario.

Other players in the defensive backfield and at linebacker
include Tapia, Omar Perez and Israel Hernandez. Perez also
will see time at wide receiver, along with Rod Rojo, while
on the line, defensive end Fernie Castillo is considered the
Eagles' beat player.

Although they're picked to finish last in the district this
season, San Elizario hasn't tried to take it easy with their
pre-district schedule. Following Friday's loss, the Eagles
will face a couple of their former District 2-4A rivals, in
El Paso Bowie and El Paso Parkland, along with new Class 5A
school El Paso Americas and Deming, N.M. before starting
district with a trip to Mountain View.

District 2-4A volleyball preview

Eagles hoping new players can win district

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- The past five seasons have been a bit of a
struggle for the Pecos Eagles volleyball team, at least
compared to their success of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Pecos missed the playoffs just once between 1982 and 1992,
with a 34-0 state title in 1987 and a 76 match district
winning streak thrown in. But Pecos missed the playoffs for
three straight seasons, from 1993-95, then had to struggle
to finish third, behind Andrews and San Angelo Lake View the
past two seasons, first under longtime coach Nora Geron and
in 1997 under her replacement, Becky Granado.

The Eagles lost in bi-district to the El Paso high Tigers
last season, and Granado graduated most of her starters from
that squad. But just as in football, expectations have been
raised for Pecos after the Eagles were shifted into District
2-4A by the University Interscholastic League.

"We're still having problems with our serves and our
passing, but I can see some improvement," Granado said last
week, during the Pecos Cantaloupe Classic in which the
Eagles did pull out a victory over Fabens, which is expected
to be Pecos' toughest district rival this season.

The Eagles do have several returning players off last
year's team that finished 4-6 in District 4-4A and 17-12 on
the season. Senior Sherrie Mosby has been a part of both of
the Eagles' playoff teams the past two years, but was used
more as a blocker than as a hitter during that time. But
with the graduation of all-state player Lorie Marquez, Mosby
has moved into the No. 1 hitter's role, and she was able to
earn all-tournament honors in Pecos this past weekend.

When Mosby is on the back line, Granado has sophomore
Philonicus Fobbs as her middle hitter, while a quartet of
seniors -- Shaye Lara, Julie Lujan, Monique Levario and
Lindsay Hathorn -- have been Pecos' outside hitters through
the first two weeks of pre-district play.

Lara also has been working at setter, along with junior Amy
Chabarria. On the back line, Granado has tried a number of
combinations while awaiting the return of junior Katrina
Quiroz. That group includes Suzanne Carrasco, Leslie Brown,
Lily Payen, Maggie Mendoza and Monica Meza.

Along with Pecos, Fabens also was a playoff team in 1997,
finishing second in District 4-3A before moving up to Class
4A this year. The Wildcats blew a late lead to Pecos in the
first game of their tournament match this past Saturday, and
wound up losing in two games, but were without their 5-10
senior hitter Beverly Alarcon, who Granado said was
sidelined with back spasms.

Aside from Fabens, San Elizario looks like the strongest
team in 2-4A after the first two weeks of the season. They
won four of their first six matches and advanced to the
finals of the El Paso Hanks Tournament the opening week of
the season, before losing to unbeaten El Paso Montwood in
the finals, 15-1, 15-3. Montwood went on to sweep San Angelo
Lake View this past weekend in San Angelo, 15-11, 15-7, on
the way to the San Angelo Invitational title, so San Eli's
lopsided loss may not indicate how they'll do when district
rolls around.

Clint, which played a non-district match against San
Elizario on Tuesday, also should be a playoff threat this
season, while Mountain View and Canutillo have struggled in
their El Paso-area pre-district matches in the early part of
the season.

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