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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas


Monday, November 2, 1998

Eagles lose heartbreaker on final play

Staff Writer
CANUTILLO, Oct. 31 -- `El Paso ball' will break your heart.

The pass-happy, run-and-gun, no-lead-is-safe type of
football El Paso area teams are famous for was kept under
tight control by the Pecos Eagles in their first three
District 2-4A football games. But on Friday night the
Canutillo Eagles dictated the style of play, and wiped out
not one, but three Pecos leads in the span of 16, 24 and 25
seconds, the last on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jesus
Navarette to Israel DelaRosa as time expired, handing Pecos
an agonizing 26-23 defeat, their first in district play.

As things turned out, Friday night's game will mean only
whatever the Eagles want it to mean, because it had no
bearing whatsoever on the 2-4A playoff race. San Elizario
and El Paso Mountain View made sure of that when San Eli
defeated Clint 25-20 and Mountain View beat Fabens, 34-21.
That clinched no worst than a second place finish for Pecos,
and means they will almost certainly face El Paso Parkland
in the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs the
weekend of Nov. 13.

Still, DelaRosa's diving catch left many of the Eagles
pounding the turf and in tears, after Mark Abila's 1-yard
touchdown run had put Pecos ahead 23-20 with just 25 seconds
to play.

"Our kids believe in what they do and believe in
themselves. But for some reason, we just weren't supposed to
win this," a dejected coach Dan Swaim said.

Pecos has had games like this in El Paso before -- a
4th-and-28 screen pass for a touchdown in the final seconds
handed Pecos a 28-20 loss in their last visit to El Paso
Riverside several years ago -- and on Friday every touchdown
the Eagles scored was matched moments later by the Rangers.

The last was set up when Oscar Luna was hit with a 15-yard
personal foul for tackling Raymundo Ortega after the
whistle, after Ortega had blocked Louis Valencia's extra
point try. "I don't agree with that 15-yard penalty at the
end," Swaim said. "The official came down and told me the
kid thought he was running with the football."

That forced Pecos to kick off from their own 25-yard line
and David Rodriguez, who had already returned one kickoff
for a touchdown, brought the ball back out to the Canutillo
42 with 15 seconds to play. Navarette then found Richard
Kastl over the middle for 23 yards and he held on despite a
hard hit by Abila. Then with three receivers split wide,
Navarette rolled right and given time by his line, found
DelaRosa five yards deep in the end zone for the winning

Until Valencia hit a 32-yard field goal with 45 seconds
left in the half, the Eagles had the lead for all of 40
seconds in the half, despite scoring the first and third

Carson's 90-yard run came after Abila forced Jurado to
fumble on a pass over the middle and recovered it at the
Canutillo 10. Valencia's extra point was wide, and on the
ensuing kickoff Rodriguez took the ball at the four, found
an opening on the right side and sped 96 yards to the end
zone. Zane Gentzler's extra point gave the host Eagles a 7-6

Jurado then gave and took away the lead from Pecos. He
tried to pick up a bouncing punt by Valencia and missed,
with Joseph Torres recovering at the Canutillo 15. Two plays
later, Luna faked into the line, rolled right and found a
wide-open Manuel Contreras in the end zone.

Pecos' try for two failed, and while Rodriguez didn't run
back the next kick, on the following play Navarette found
Jurado over the middle, and he broke one tackle and then
broke free when two Eagle defenders collided, for a 73-yard
TD pass. Gentzler's kick gave Canutillo a 14-12 lead.

Jurado would give Canutillo back the lead in the third
period, as the Eagles' special teams were burned again. This
time, he fielded Valencia's punt at the 13, took one step
right and then cut left, getting a pair of blocks to be
sprung for the end zone with 5:17 left in the period.

Both teams did make adjustments at halftime that shut down
the opposing offenses until the final seconds. Pecos ran for
200 yards in the first half but were held to just 60 in the
final quarters. But that included Jacob Esparza's 14-yard
run to the host Eagles' 1, setting up Abila's one yard
plunge moments later.

Navarette, meanwhile, hit nine of his first 10 passes for
154 yards, then wouldn't connect on another until his
connections to Kastl and DelaRosa in the final 10 seconds.

"Our defensive game plan went out the door on the second
play of the game. They did stuff they never had done," Swaim
said of Canutillo, which used five different receivers on
their opening drive, which ended with Jurado's fumble.

Stuffed at the line for most of the second half, the Eagles
went to the air in the fourth quarter to set up their score.
They first tried a flea-flicker play similar to the one that
beat Fort Stockton in Week 3. This time Carson lateraled the
ball back to Luna, who threw to Jason Payne on a 4th-and-7
play from their own 39. Canutillo wasn't fooled, and had two
defenders covering Payne, but Ruben Allende went for the
interception and deflected the ball behind him to Payne, who
ran down to the 15-yard line before being dragged down.

Canutillo then stopped Pecos on their next four plays, with
an overthrow by Luna to Valencia on fourth down giving the
ball back at the eight with 2:41 to play. But Canutillo was
then hit with three penalties and ended up backed up to
their own three, from where coach Mike Craig opted to have
Allende run out of the back of the end zone on a punt for a
safety, cutting the lead to 20-17.

Lucio Florez then returned Gentzler's kickoff from the 20
to midfield, from where Luna and Contreras hooked up for
10-yards on a 3rd-and-10 play, then went the other way, as
the Eagles' tight end got behind Canutillo's linebackers and
rambled down to the 15 with 50 seconds left, setting up
Esparza's run and Abila's score.

"Our special teams hurt us, but the kids never gave up.
They played ball until the end and gave themselves every
chance to win the ballgame. But the chairs just didn't fall
our way," Swaim said.

Both teams are now 3-1 in district and 5-4 on the season
going into their final regular-season games next week, with
Canutillo going to Fabens and the Eagles hosting San

Canutillo's win ended their 18-year playoff drought, a week
after Pecos made the playoffs for the first time in 23
seasons. Canutillo is locked into a bi-district matchup
against El Paso Ysleta in the `Big 4A' division of the state
playoffs, while Pecos' likely matchup with Riverside will
depend on how District 1-4A would break a potential
three-way tie for first place.

Undefeated Riverside beat Parkland on Friday, 20-12 to take
a one-game lead over Parkland and Ysleta, who they play next
week. Wins by Ysleta and Parkland would create a three-way
tie, and seedings in the `Small 4A' division would depend on
whether last night's matchup or a coin flip is used to break
the tie.

Clint and Mountain View will play next Friday to decide the
other District 2-4A playoff team. One of those teams could
finish 3-2 and tie Pecos for second if San Elizario wins,
but the Eagles hold the tie-breaker over both the Lions and
the Lobos.

Swaim said he didn't think that line would play out and the
Eagles would be ready for next Friday's matchup with San Eli.

"We'll bounce back without a doubt. We still have a chance
for a share of the outright district championship. It's just
that the ball's not in our court anymore," he said before
learning of the other scores.

Thanks to Mountain View and San Elizario, it now is.

Pecos gets one runner to regionals

Staff Writer
EL PASO, Nov. 1 -- How tough are the El Paso area districts
in boys cross country?

Try this -- Pecos Eagles' runner Oscar Medrano's 17:14 time
on Saturday at the District 2-4A meet at Blackie Cheshire
Park would have won first in the Eagles' old district by 22
seconds. Instead, Medrano ended up as first alternate to
this weekend's Region I-4A meet in Lubbock, when he was just
edged by Clint's Mauro Cabada for the 10th and final berth
in the regional meet.

The Eagles did qualify their only runner on the girls'
side, as senior Liz Parent took fifth with a 13:47 time over
a two-mile course in the east El Paso park.

"She almost took fourth, but she didn't get it. She kicked
it in and got to right about here, but that girl (Clint's
Maria Mena) had just that little bit left," said Eagles'
coach Rudy Jurado, gesturing to a point about 25 yards from
the finish line.

El Paso isn't as dominant in girls' cross country as it is
on the boys side -- the Amarillo area schools have been tops
there in recent years -- and Parent's time would have been
one spot better in Saturday's District 5-4A meet against
Pecos' former rivals. But Jurado said her time was the best
she had done all season.

"She's been running 15 (minutes) and her fastest was in the
14s once," the Eagles' coach said.

Clint's Belinda Cernavntes won the race with a 13:03 time,
19 seconds ahead of runner-up Karina Canales of Fabens.
Clint also edged Fabens for the team title by a 24-26
margin, with Canutillo, the only other girls team entered,
finishing with 74 points to get the other Region I-4A team

Jurado said he was without two of his faster runners in
Michael Pena and Mickey Gabaldon due to grades, but Medrano
has posted the best three-mile cross country times for the
Eagles this season. On Saturday, his 17:14 would have been
good enough to earn a berth even in District 1-4A, where
defending Class 4A state champ El Paso High runs, but he was
out-kicked by Clint's Cabada at the finish.

"It's a lot better than the old district. You run against
state-bound people here (Clint won the state title last
season while in Class 3A). I'm just kind of disappointed
Oscar didn't get in," Jurado said.

"In the final yards Oscar had a kick at the end and passed
the Fabens kid, but like Orlando (Matta, Medrano's teammate)
said, the kid from Clint had a longer stride and pulled it
out at the end.

After Medrano, Alex Avila, Jesse Salazar, Roy Marta and
Nolan Blount rounded out the team for Pecos, which was also
minus Matta due to an injury he suffered during football.

Clint's Martin Orozco edged Fabens' Lorenzo Espinoza for
first place, with a 16:18 time to Espinoza's 16:20, and that
helped the Lions edge the Wildcats for the boys' title by a
35-38 score. El Paso Mountain View nipped Canutillo, 87-91
for the third-place team berth at regionals. Pecos ended up
with 121 points, while San Elizario did not have enough
runners to earn a team score.

Bears control playoff fate after win

PECOS, Nov. 1 -- The Balmorhea Bears went from the hot seat
to the driver's seat in the race for the final District 7-A
six-man playoff berth Friday night, as they evened their
district record at 2-2 with a 56-40 homefield victory over
the Sanderson Eagles.

Coming off the previous week's 51-48 loss at Buena Vista,
the Bears faced elimination from the playoff race with a
defeat. Instead, their win, coupled with Grandfalls' 53-6
victory over Buena Vista, means the Bears can make the
playoffs by winning their final two games, at Marathon this
Friday and their homecoming game on Nov. 13 versus Sierra

"If we win our last two games, we're in the playoffs," said
Bears' coach Ennis Erickson, whose team lost out to
Sanderson on a coin flip for a post-season berth last year.

Balmorhea's defense shut down Sanderson in the second half,
holding the Eagles to just a lone touchdown by John Kennedy
on a one-yard pass from Roland Rodriguez midway through the
final period. Sanderson missed on their try for a game-tying
extra point kick, and Balmorhea came back to make it 48-40
on Chris Cook's second touchdown of the night, a one-yard
run with 1:32 left, then got an insurance TD midway through
the final period, when Cook scored from 23 yards out and
Roger Lopez added the extra point kick.

The Bears were still without senior Arturo Miranda, but were
helped by the return on Jouse Mendoza, who missed last
week's game against Imperial with an injury. He scored on a
five-yard run after Sanderson took an early 6-0 lead when
Kennedy caught a 45-yard touchdown pass from Rodriguez. The
two would give the Eagles back the lead two minutes later on
a 7-yard TD pass, but Roger Lopez would run the ensuing
short kickoff back 47 yards for a touchdown, putting the
Bears ahead to stay.

They wouldn't have a safe lead until the final minutes.
Cook, who added the extra point kick after Lopez' score, got
his first TD run, a 23-yarder, and Lopez' then added the
kick for a 23-12 lead. The teams would then swap touchdowns
for the rest of the half, with Sanderson cutting it to 35-34
at halftime when Rodriguez passed 18 yards to Alex Escamilla
with two seconds to play.

Travis Woodruff then ran in from 11-yards away on the
opening series of the third quarter, then passed to Patrick
Craven to make it 42-34, and after Kennedy's third TD
reception the Bears shut the door on the Eagles' air attack.

"The whole team moved the ball," better in Friday's win,
said Erickson, as the Bears climbed back over .500 at 4-3 on
the season, going into Friday's game at Marathon, which lost
to Denver City on Friday. Sierra Blanca is also 2-2 in
district, and host Sanderson this Friday before their Nov.
13 game in Balmorhea.

Eagle netters fall at regionals

PECOS, Nov. 1 -- The Pecos Eagles tennis team didn't pull
any upsets this past weekend at the Region I-4A tournament
in Wichita Falls, but they did get in three matches against
some of the regions top 4A teams in the two-day tournament.

Matched against host team and No. 2 seed Wichita Falls
Rider, the Eagles were beaten by a 10-0 final score. That
dropped them into the consolation bracket of the tournament,
where, after a bye against El Paso Burges, they lost to
Weatherford, 13-5, and to Cleburne by a 14-4 final score in
the tournament's 11th place match.

"At regionals, once you get to 10 wins, you stop," coach
Bernadette Ornelas said about the shortened opening match on
Friday. "With Rider we played six doubles games and lost,
then we had a couple of girls singles matches come off that
we lost, and when we had one of the boys come off that was
the 10th match and it was over.

"Jonathan (Fuentes) and Tye (Graham) were winning their
matches at No. 1 and No. 3 when it ended and they were
upset. They said `Coach, we were on a roll,' but that was
all we played.

"When you get to the regionals it's played at a different
pace. The ball is hit harder, and Rider did a good job
placing their shots," the Eagles' coach said.

Against Weatherford, the Eagles won five of the nine boys
matches but were swept by the Kangaroos on the girls side.
"We lost three close matches, and they kids still played
well. We even got to play our alternate (Sarah Metler) in a
couple of games, and the kids were eager to play a lot of

Ornelas said Pecos lost five split set matches in their
final matchup against Cleburne. Graham and Jeff Lam got the
Eagles their lone doubles victory, while Graham, Alan
Fleming and Casey Love won in singles play.

"I think the kids learned a lot from seeing those teams
play, and they all want to go back again," the Eagles' coach

Pecos (0) at WF Rider (10)
Boys Singles
Casey Love lost to Lance Cannedy, 6-0, 6-0.

Girls Singles
Teresa Minjarez lost to Brook Gray, 6-0. 6-0; Erin Dominguez
lost to Adrienne Mongahan, 6-0, 6-0; Vanessa Miranda lost to
Camille Campbell, 6-1, 6-0; Lorie Minjarez lost to Allison
Baker, 6-2, 6-0.

Boys Doubles
Jonathan Fuentes and Mark Marquez lost to Kirk O'Connor and
Allen Flack, 6-4, 6-3; Tye Graham and Jeff Lam lost to Jason
Tillery and Dale Murdock, 6-3, 6-1; Alan Fleming and Love
lost to Jeff White and Cannedy, 6-0, 6-0.

Girls Doubles
T. Minjarez and Dominguez lost to Gray and Campbell, 6-0,
6-3; Miranda and Rachel Pharoah lost to Mongahan and
McComick, 6-2, 6-3; Tiffany Jarrett and L. Minjarez lost to
Chandler and Baker, 6-1, 6-0.

Pecos (5) vs. Weatherford (13)
Boys Singles
Fuentes defeated G.J. Walter,s 6-4, 3-6, 6-0; Marquez
defeated Adam Johansen, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3; Graham defeated Jason
Oates, 7-5, 6-2; Lam lost to Brandon Gammingel, 0-6, 6-4,
7-6; Fleming lost to Matt Ladley, 6-2, 6-4; Love lost to
Kyle Brandon, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3.

Girls Singles
T. Minjarez lost to Summer Beesley, 6-2, 6-1; Dominguez lost
to Emily Cox, 6-2, 6-0; Miranda lost to Kendal Dean, 6-1,
6-3; Pharoah lost to Bethany Williams, 6-1, 6-0; Jarrett
lost to Amy Richards, 6-4, 6-1; L. Minjarez lost to Janace
Maulder, 6-2, 5-7, 6-1.
JV -- Sarah Metler lost to Christy Augusta.

Boys Doubles
Fuentes and Marquez defeated Walters and Gates, 6-1, 1-6,
6-2; Graham and Lam lost to Clifton and Johansen, 6-7, 7-6,
6-2; Fleming and Love lost to Brandon and Edison, 6-2, 6-1.

Girls Doubles
T. Minjarez and Dominguez lost to Beesley and Williams, 6-0,
6-1; Miranda and Pharoah lost to Cox and Chrestman, 6-0,
6-0; Jarrett and L. Minjarez lost to Dean and Williams,.
6-0, 7-5.

Pecos (4) vs. Cleburne (14)
Boys Singles
Fuentes lost to Justin Wright, 7-6, 7-6; Marquez lost to
David Mentz, 6-1, 6-3; Graham defeated Brian Taylor, 6-3,
6-3; Lam lost to Dustin Williams, 6-1, 6-4; Fleming defeated
Zack Bailey, 6-2, 6-4; Love defeated Ryan Abt, 7-6, 7-6.

Girls Singles
T. Minjarez lost to Stephanie Todd, 6-2, 6-4; Dominguez lost
to Haley Buckingham, 6-2, 6-3; Miranda lost to Holly Herr,
6-1, 6-3; Pharoah lost to Tiffany Rebstock, 6-1, 6-1;
Jarrett lost to Angie Wu, 6-2, 6-1; L. Minjarez lost to
Elyse Ackley, 6-2, 6-2.
JV -- Metler lost to Lindsey Shanklin, 8-4; Metler lost to
Brittany Rebstock, 8-2.

Boys Doubles
Fuentes and Marquez lost to Wright and Mentz, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4;
Graham and Lam defeated Taylor and Williams, 6-4, 6-1;
Fleming and Love lost to Bailey and Abt, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

Girls Doubles
T. Minjarez and Dominguez lost to Herr and T. Rebstock, 6-2,
4-6, 7-6; Mirand and Pharoah lost to Todd and Ackley, 6-3,
6-3; Jarrett and L. Minjarez lost to Buckingham and Wu, 6-0,

`Flat' Eagles drop match to Monahans

PECOS, Nov. 1 -- Pecos Eagles' volleyball coach Becky
Granado is hoping her team has saved it's best for Tuesday's
playoff matchup against the Dumas Demons. Because the Eagles
had their problems on Saturday in a practice game against
the Monahans Loboes.

"I don't know what it was, but we did nothing. We didn't
pass, we didn't set and we didn't hit," Granado said after
the Eagles' Becky Granado after her team's 15-6, 15-10 loss
in Monahans. "We were just out there and not into it.

"I don't know if it was just because it was a practice game,
but they never got up for the game," she said. "Some of them
made comments that they were tired, and they had been
working hard. We had five days of hard practices, and then I
got them up here again Saturday morning for a short

Monahans was able to get kills from hitters Diedre Wessels
and Vanessa Collins, while Granado said, "Sherrie (Mosby)
had a couple of kills, but it wasn't enough. We just didn't
block and couldn't cover."

"We didn't give ourselves a chance to score. We would break
serve and get the ball back and then miss a serve," she
added. "We've got to give ourselves a chance to score points
tomorrow," when Pecos goes to Lubbock Estacado to face Dumas
in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs.

While Saturday's loss dropped Pecos to 17-10 on the season,
Dumas improved to 26-9 with their 15-6, 15-5 win over
Frenship in the bi-district round of the Class 4A playoffs
on Saturday. The Eagles drew a first round playoff bye after
winning the District 2-4A title, while Dumas lost a playoff
to defending state champion Hereford for the District 3-4A

"Coach (Veronica) Valenzuela went there (to Plainview) and
she said they can be beaten, but our kids have got to get up
there and hit the ball," said Granado. "They've got two good
hitters (Julie Williams and Beth Ratliff). They're not as
strong as (Wink's) Jess Ann Fernandes, but they had 24 kids
on the team and were substituting three kids as a time, so
it was hard to see what their starters can do."

Estacado High School is located just inside Loop 289 on the
northeast side of Lubbock, at Ivory Street south of East
Municipal Drive. Tuesday's winner will face either Canyon
Randall or El Paso High in the regional semifinals this

Philly stays behind coach despite losses

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 1 (AP) -- Troy Vincent jogged past the
crowd of reporters gathered around Philadelphia Eagles coach
Ray Rhodes. A wry smile could be seen behind his facemask.

With three words, shouted on the run with some feeling
behind them, Vincent pretty much summed up how the whole
team feels about Rhodes.

``Tell 'em Ray!'' Vincent said, trotting to another field
for his next drill as the Eagles' prepared for tonight's
game against the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys.

Despite all the boos and losses, despite the organizational
chaos that the Eagles' 1-6 start has exposed, one thing has
never, ever happened to Rhodes while he has been a head
coach. His players have never quit on him.

``We're not going to do that,'' said Rhodes, widely believed
to be coaching his last season for the Eagles. ``Everybody
is trying to get this thing together, and no one's pointing

It is a stark contrast to the reports out of Carolina (1-7)
and Washington (1-7), where divided locker rooms have
accompanied dismal starts. It hasn't happened to the Eagles
for two reasons: Rhodes won't allow it, and many of his
players came to Philadelphia specifically to play for him.

Vincent left Miami to sign with the Eagles in 1996, Rhodes'
second season. He has been Rhodes' staunchest supporter,
even as the 47-year-old coach's job security has crumbled
beneath his feet each week.

Rhodes was 20-12 in his first two seasons, making the
playoffs both years. He is 7-15-1 since then.

``You have to keep at it. That's my approach,'' Vincent
said. ``We have another eight or nine games to have a chance
to turn this thing around.''

One thing Rhodes has always done since coming to
Philadelphia is beat the rival Cowboys at least once a year.
But Dallas (4-3) has won four of the seven Monday night
meetings, including four straight.

The last three regular-season games have been decided in the
final minute -- most notably Tom Hutton's fumbled snap that
led to Chris Boniol's botched game-winning field goal
attempt with four seconds left in the Cowboys' 21-20 victory
on Monday night in Dallas last year.

``Philadelphia has had excellent football teams when we've
come there over the years,'' said Dallas quarterback Troy
Aikman, who returns after missing five weeks because of a
broken left collarbone.

Regardless of the opponent, Rhodes' players have never
wavered in their support. But he is increasingly regarded in
Philadelphia as a lame duck coach. One local newspaper even
ran a story handicapping his possible replacements last

``Forgive us, Ray: It's not too soon to thinking about a new
coach for the Birds,'' the headline read.

Why do Rhodes' players love him so much?

A former receiver and defensive back, Rhodes is emotional,
sometimes foul-mouthed and cantankerous -- just like them.
He is driven by a desire not only to succeed, but to
thoroughly dominate the opponent -- just like them.

And yet he lets the players police themselves and believes
that practicing hard and smart -- not necessarily long -- is
the key to surviving in this league.

``You hear different stories from around the league about
coaches who leave the players out there for 3½, 4 hours,''
said cornerback Bobby Taylor, who joined the Eagles with
Vincent in 1996. ``He lets you be you.''

But even Rhodes' most ardent supporters find it hard to keep
the faith.

``I'll get excited when we start winning some games,''
receiver Irving Fryar said.

A victory over Dallas would put the Eagles only two games
behind the division leaders, amazingly in position to make
the playoffs despite their worst start since 1975.

``I don't think this is lost,'' Taylor said.

Rhodes has drilled that into their heads all season. After
all, it may be his last.

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