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Thursday, October 7, 1999

Swim opener to be regional preview

PECOS, Oct. 7, 1999 -- In past years, tonight's opening meet of the 1999-2000 swimming season for the Pecos Eagles would be considered a preview of the race for the District 4 title, at least on the girls' side.

But this year, when the Eagles host the Monahans Loboes and Fort Stockton Panthers at the Pecos High School pool, it will be an early look at not only how district competition will shape up, but how the first-ever Region I-4A meet may look as well.

The Eagles, Loboes and Panthers are part of District 3-4A this year, and will not have to compete against Class 5A schools at regionals for the first time next February.

"If my guys stay out and we keep everybody eligible, we should do real well at district, then we'll have to work towards regionals, because going in we should be favored," said Eagles' coach Terri Morse. "I'll know more as the season goes along, but right now I'd say our boys and Monahans girls should be favored."

Pecos will be shooting for its ninth district title in 11 years on the boys side, while the girls will seek their eighth title in 10 seasons, but will have to get past Monahans, last year's district champion.

"Their girls team will be as strong as they were last year, maybe stronger," Morse said, while adding, "I don't want to underestimate our girls. We've got a young team, but once we get all our girls out, we're going to be all right."

Several Pecos swimmers are still involved in other sports, though Morse will have two of the Eagles' varsity football players, Kevin Bates and Tye Edwards, available tonight. Both will swim in one individual race, with Bates competing in the 50 free, where he should be among the top Class 4A swimmers in the state this year.

Morse said tonight's meet will start at 6 p.m. and last about two hours, with diving competition set for about 6:30 p.m. "We'll have diving after the 50 free, but we're the only ones to have divers so it shouldn't take long, Morse said.

Eagles open district against young Wildcats

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 7, 1999 -- It may seem strange, after seeing the offense struggle over the past three weeks, but outside of the location of Friday’s game, the Pecos Eagles’ appear to be in better shape going into their District 2-4A opener against the Fabens Wildcats this season than they did a year ago.

Pecos begins the district portion of their 1999 football schedule with an 8:30 p.m. CDT game against the Wildcats, who come in with a 3-2 record compared to the Eagles’ 2-3 mark. But while Pecos has had its problems on offense and have to go to a place where they have had problems in recent seasons, the situation appeared shakier when 2-4A play began last October.

The Eagles went into that game against a veteran Wildcat squad having scored just one touchdown in their previous 12 quarters of play, while Fabens had gone through their pre-district schedule undefeated. But Pecos withstood a couple of early threats and went on to rout the Wildcats by a 38-0 final score, on the way to a share of the district championship.

“We had the ball inside the 10 four times and came away with nothing,” coach Ronnie Hernandez said. “When we got Pecos’ backs against the wall, they became tougher than nails.”

This year’s Fabens team is far younger the one the Eagles took on a year ago, with sophomores Rigo Estrada and Vincente Macias as their quarterback and main running back.

“We’ve got a young team. It’s a big step up from the JV to varsity and at times the youthfulness shows,” said Hernandez.

Macias has surpassed the 100-yard mark in all three of the Wildcats’ victories, and gained 155 yards a week ago in their 26-0 shutout of Santa Teresa to boost his season total to 660 yards. Estrada was just 2-of-8 in the first half, but finished the game with a 5-for-9 second half and had two touchdown passes, to Bobby Chavez and Manny Cadena.

“Fabens looks pretty good offensively. They’re real consistent,” said Eagles’ coach Gary Grubbs. “They run the wishbone well and have got a real good running back.”

Fabens’ Vince Culbreath, the district champion in the 100 and 200 meter dashes, didn’t come back this season, which put Estrada in the starting quarterback’s job. “He just needs to get a little stronger,” Hernandez said. “Right now he doesn’t have the arm to throw the long ball, but that will come with time.”

Defensively, Fabens had problems handling El Paso Parkland’s speed, but have allowed just two defensive touchdowns in their other four games.

“They do a good job running to the football,” Grubbs said, while Hernandez listed linebacker Ricky Gallardo and linemen Rolando Pena as his top players on defense.

The Eagles have had trouble sustaining drives the past few weeks – only one of their last five touchdowns has been on a series of more than four plays – but Grubbs said he thought the line had a good game last Friday against Kermit.

“Our offensive line blocked fine. It was just that the backs were not hitting the holes they were supposed to,” Grubbs said of last week’s game. “I thought our offensive line had its best game of the season, blocking-wise.”

Grubbs said running back Len Carson continues to improve from his groin injury, but will be used more at cornerback this week, after the Eagles lost starter Richard Rodriguez for the season with a chipped bone in his elbow. “His elbow got hyper-extended and somebody fell on it. It’s just one of those things,” the Eagles’ coach said.

“Where he chipped it is where a tendon’s attached,” Grubbs explained. “Either they’ll have to do surgery, or he’ll have to be in a cast for six weeks.”

Donny Winfrey will continue to share backfield duties with Jacob Esparza, who had his second 100-plus yard game rushing last week, gaining 112 yards including a 54-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

Grubbs said the Eagles would be without a couple of reserves on Friday due to SAT testing on Saturday. However, they’ll have more players overall suited up for the game, with several players off the idle junior varsity team set to make the trip to Fabens.

“The freshmen will play with the freshmen (at 7 p.m. tonight against Wink’s JV) and the sophomores and juniors will be with us,” Grubbs said. Pecos canceled its JV game with Marfa’s varsity when grades dropped the JV’s roster to under 20 players.

He added that one of the sophomores, Peter Juarez, would remain on the varsity to take Rodriguez’ place as the Eagles’ quarterback behind starter Alex Garcia.

This will be the third time in the last five years the Eagles have played in Fabens. In both their previous trips, the Eagles started slowly, and then dominated the Wildcats for the next two periods before mistakes gave Fabens a shot at getting back into the game.

They made the most of it in 1995, turning a 14-2 deficit midway through the third period into a 22-14 victory, while two years ago the Eagles needed a fourth quarter goal line stand to regain momentum in an eventual 25-7 win. However, this will be the first time the game counts on the district record, and Grubbs said, “Our kids are focused. They know it’s a must-win situation.”


Volleyballers host Fabens as gridders go west

PECOS, Oct. 7, 1999 -- If the Fabens Wildcats had gone along with the other teams in District 2-4A this past summer, the Wildcats and Pecos Eagles would probably be playing a football-volleyball doubleheader in Fabens this Friday night.

But Fabens was the only team that refused to switch their Tuesday night home date with Pecos to a Saturday, to help the Eagle players avoid missing too much class time due to their long trips out to the El Paso area.

As a result, the Wildcats were scheduled to travel to Pecos this Saturday, until Wildcats coach Jesse Brown found out several of his girls were planning to take the SAT test that day in El Paso.

Eagles coach Becky Granado said she also has some girls planning to take the SAT test Saturday, so while the Eagles' football team heads to Fabens tomorrow, the Wildcats' volleyball squad will be on their way here, for junior varsity and varsity contests at 2 and 3:15 p.m.

It's the second district meeting between the two teams, and the second of three straight home games for Pecos _ which may or may not be a good thing. The Eagles have struggled at home, losing to Clint on Sept. 28 and barely getting past San Elizario this past Tuesday, while winning both their road matches so far in two games, including a 15-8, 15-6 win at Fabens on Sept. 21 in the district opener for both schools.

Pecos finally came alive in Game 3 on Tuesday, after losing the first game and almost blowing a 14-10 lead in the second game. Coach Becky Granado was unhappy with the missed chances, but did say the Eagles' outside hitters are continuing to improve.

"Alexa (Marquez) and Ashley (Salcido) are starting to hit the ball better. They've just got to place the ball better, instead of hitting it right at the defense," Granado said.

Tuesday's win lifted the Eagles to 3-1 in district play and 14-9 overall, while Fabens lost to Clint on Tuesday and are 2-3 in district, and 6-9 overall this season. Pecos is in second place, 1 ½ games in back of district-leading Clint, while the Wildcats are tied for fourth with San Elizario, one-half game behind El Paso Mountain View in the race for the third and final Class 4A playoff berth.

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