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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
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Thursday, October 21, 1999

Eagles, Lions' records similar, styles different

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 21, 1999 -- They’re both 4-3, both looking to get back to the playoffs for the second year in a row, and they both posted six-point wins over Fabens in their last road games.

Other than that, you couldn’t find two more different teams than the Pecos Eagles and Clint Lions to square off Friday night in Clint, starting at 8:30 p.m. CDT.

The Eagles do have one advantage over the Lions – they’re 2-0 in District 2-4A play after their win over Fabens and last Friday’s 28-20 homefield victory against El Paso Mountain View. Clint lost their district opener to San Elizario before recovering last week at Fabens, but while Pecos used an overtime touchdown to beat the Wildcats, 6-0, Clint outscored Fabens, 48-42, winning on  a 25-yard pass from D.J. Check to Johnny Torres with 1:14 to play.

“It works in their favor that we have to travel out there, and we’re 2-0 while they’re 1-1, so they know they have to win,” said Eagles’ coach Gary Grubbs, whose team had posted two straight shutout victories before getting past Mountain View in the fourth period a week ago.

Meanwhile, Clint’s average score this season has been 33-31, and last Friday’s win doesn’t even come close to their highest combined score this season – the Lions beat El Paso High in Week 2 by a 63-56 final score.

Last week’s win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Lions, which began when running back D.J. Shephard quit the team after a 3-0 start, forcing all-state receiver Jeremy Arnold to move to running back.

“We’ve got it all ironed out. We executed a lot better last week and we executed a lot better on defense, though it may not look like it,” said coach Bill Culpepper. “We had three interceptions and a fumble recover which helped put us in a lot better situation.”

 “It will come down to how we play defense,” said Grubbs, who added “It wouldn’t bother me if we’re running up and down the field with our offense. If we score, we score, and I don’t care how much time it takes.”

Clint needed just 1:01 to get their winning touchdown last week after Fabens took a 42-41 lead, though Check’s fifth touchdown pass of the night appeared to have been dropped by Torres before he reached the end zone. It was the second week in a row Fabens felt a goal line call went against them (the Wildcats thought Vicente Macias scored in overtime against Pecos), but the play counted, and it gave Check 22 TD passes for the year and 77 for his career.

That’s 17 off Chavis McCollister’s state record, set last year, while his 7,388 passing yards is within range of Stephenville’s Kelan Luker, who also set the mark of 8,297 yards a year ago.

He didn’t look like he’d have a shot at either mark after injuring his knee four weeks ago against El Paso Parkland. “He’s still hobbled a little bit, but he practiced two days this week and also practiced last week and that makes a big difference in execution, because we don’t execute nearly as well without D.J. out there,” Culpepper said.

“They’ve got two great athletes in Check and Arnold,” Grubbs said. “Pretty much wherever Arnold is, that’s where the ball is.”

Arnold has had different problems, learning a new role. “He plays tailback and receiver and we’re trying to teach him to pass protect so we can do something besides run the ball when he’s in the backfield,” the Lions’ coach said. “I think he’s getting there, so we can be a little less predictable.”

Certainly, focusing just on Arnold will get the Eagles in trouble. He and Torres both have seven touchdown catches, while tight end Patrick Tullius and receiver Sergio Medrano have a combined 32 catches for 652 yards and eight TDs between them.

Pecos had just three completions last week, but the two in the second half allowed them to complete their first sustained scoring drives in a month.

Alex Garcia passed to Derek Zubledia for one score, while Zubeldia’s pass to Kevin Bates set up Donny Winfrey’s winning touchdown run. It was part of a 189-yard rushing night for Winfrey, as the Eagles gained 262 of their 348 yards overall against Mountain View on the ground.

“I’m sure they’ll stack the line to make us throw the football,” Grubbs said. “A lot of people don’t think we can throw the football, but we can.”

Pecos did add a pair of players to their varsity roster this week, in freshmen Matthew Levario and Jason Carrasco. They join backup quarterback Peter Juarez, who was brought up from the junior varsity two weeks ago, while Pecos’ other freshmen and JV players will face Monahans and Kermit tonight.

Bears need win to remain in playoff picture

PECOS, Oct. 21, 1999 -- Having their backs against the wall is nothing new for the Balmorhea Bears' football team. They've faced must-win situations over the final month of the season for the past two years, and will be in the same position on Friday night, when they host the Buena Vista Longhorns, starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Bears are 0-2 in District 7-A six man play after last week's 42-18 loss at Dell City, and coach Ennis Erickson said the Bears will have to sweep their final four games, then get some help from Grandfalls, to have a shot at their fifth post-season trip in six years.

"Out of Dell City (2-0 in district), Grandfalls (3-0) and Sanderson (2-0) two of those teams have to lose twice, and we have to win the remainder of our games," Erickson said. Balmorhea already has lost to Grandfalls, but has yet to play Sanderson, so the Bears will be rooting for a win by the Cowboys at home over the Eagles on Friday.

Two years ago Balmorhea dropped its first two district games, then came back to win their final four before losing out for the second place playoff berth on a coin flip. Last season, a 51-48 loss at Buena Vista put the Bears in a 1-2 hole, before then won their last three district games, then advanced to the state semifinals.

This time, the Bears come in with a three-game losing streak, as slow starts have hurt Balmorhea in each of those games. Dell City jumped out to a 22-0 lead last week, and three weeks ago Grandfalls went ahead of Balmorhea 23-0 in an eventual 37-24 victory.

Buena Vista got a win and a week off last Friday, when Sierra Blanca forfeited their game to the Longhorns. It put them at 1-2 in district and 3-4 on the season.

Series to determine `Team of Decade' title

AP Baseball Writer
ATLANTA, Oct. 21, 1999 — No need to ask John Schuerholz. Just look at the ring the Atlanta Braves general manager is wearing and read what's engraved: "Team of the 90s."

The way he sees it, there's not a debate on baseball's team of the decade. To him, the Braves already own that title, even if the New York Yankees take home the next World Series trophy.

"To answer that question for the 1,442nd time, we don't need to do anything," Schuerholz said. "We've won more games than any team, we've won 100 games three years in a row, we've won eight straight division titles."

"If you choose any criteria except one narrow criteria — World Series championships — we lead it," he said.

To the Yankees, though, that's not such a narrow category.

"Aren't we the team of the century?" New York GM Brian Cashman said Wednesday. "World championships, that's the goal."

Fittingly, the clubs that had the majors' two worst records in 1990 get a final chance to make their cases starting with Game 1 Saturday night at Turner Field.

Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, MVP of the AL Championship Series, probably will start for the Yankees. The Braves can pick from any of their Big Four of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, Greg Maddux and Kevin Millwood.

For Atlanta, it's an opportunity to win that elusive second World Series title. The Braves beat Cleveland in 1995 — prompting them to put that boast on their rings — but have nothing else to show for eight straight trips to the NL Championship Series.

For the Yankees, it's a chance to win their record 25th title and third in four years. That recent run began when they beat Atlanta in six games in 1996.

"We've got another shot at them," Atlanta third baseman Chipper Jones said.

The Braves earned their fifth trip to the World Series in the 1990s by beating the New York Mets 10-9 in 11 innings Tuesday night in Game 6 of the NLCS. The Yankees beat Boston in five games in the ALCS.

Atlanta took a day off Wednesday while New York's practice at Yankee Stadium was rained out. That gave extra time for the Yankees to talk about — or turn down — debate about the top team in the last 10 years.

"Players don't worry about it," catcher Joe Girardi said. "There are a lot of different players on both teams."

True, a lot has changed for the Yankees since 1990, when they went 67-95 with a starting lineup that included Oscar Azocar, Steve Balboni and Bob Geren, plus a rotation that had Tim Leary, Chuck Cary and Andy Hawkins.

The Braves were even worse that season at 65-97. That was the year they traded Dale Murphy and could only hope that young Glavine and Smoltz would blossom.

Overall, Atlanta is a major league-best 925-629 in regular-season games during the decade and the Yankees are next at 851-702. Oh, their interleague record against each other? Appropriately, 5-5.

The Braves have won titles in the West and East in the 1990s and became the first NL franchise to reach five World Series since the Dodgers in the '50s. The Yankees have gone to the playoffs for five straight years, their best stretch since going to the World Series from 1960-1964.

And now, with no slight intended to Toronto for its championships in 1992-93, it's all come down the Braves and Yankees.

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