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Thursday, October 24, 1996

Pecos looks to end Sweetwater's streak

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Staff Writer

PECOS, Oct. 24 -- The Pecos Eagles haven't played the Sweetwater
Mustangs for the past two seasons, while Sweetwater was a member of
District 6-4A.
But Sweetwater's back in District 4-4A now, and according to a coach who
did face the Mustangs in 1995, Fort Stockton's Philip Lopez, "They're
better than they were a year ago." And that was a team that went 10-0 in
the regular season.
The Mustangs came out of Fort Stockton last Friday with a 48-6 victory,
raising this year's record to 7-0, and 2-0 in District 4-4A play. Now
it's the Pecos Eagles' turn to try and had Sweetwater their first
regular season loss in two years, when the Eagles travel to the Mustang
Bowl Friday for a 7:30 p.m. start.
After giving up nearly 800 yards in their district opening losses to Big
Spring and Andrews, the Eagles are 0-2 in district, and 3-4 overall. But
they'll be hoping for a defensive effort like either of their last two
trips into Sweetwater, while seeking their first win at the Mustang Bowl
since 1981.
Pecos lost a 7-0 game back in 1991 and in their last meeting, in 1993,
fell to the Mustangs, 21-0 in a game closer than the final score showed.
Sweetwater came into that game state-ranked and averaging over 430 yards
per game on offense and were held to just 247 yards by Pecos that night,
all but 37 of that through the air.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, the player who accounted for 132 of those
yards, Jason Blueford, is still around, though at a different spot in
the lineup.
Blueford debuted on the varsity as a wide receiver that night, which is
where he spent the next 2½ seasons. This year, head coach Tom Ritchey
moved him to the backfield, replacing all-state runner Shaun Carr, and
Blueford's numbers have been steadily rising as the weeks go by. He ran
for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns a week ago and is at 804 yards
for the season.
"We think he's improved during the course of the year," Ritchey said.
"We're very pleased with Jason. He tries hard and is a good athlete,
with good sense and good vision on the field."
"We're facing another outstanding back this week," said Eagles' coach
Mike Belew. "He's about 175 pounds and is fast and has good power," he
added, while saying that Blueford isn't the Mustangs' only running
Quarterback Andrew Boatright has gained 565 yards on the ground while
passing for over 700 yards, though much of that came earlier in the
"He impressed me running the ball on the option," the Eagles' coach
said. "Against Fort Stockton he fumbled the ball one time on the snap
from center, picked it up and ran 50 yards for a touchdown."
"He's done a good deal more running this season, but he made some good
runs last year, particularly in the latter part of the year," Ritchey
In passing, Boatright is just 3-for-12 for 74 yards and a pair of
interceptions the past two weeks, but Belew said, "He can throw the
ball, and they've got good receivers. (Robert) Reed is about 6-7 and has
got some good hands. I've seen them run some lob routes, where they just
throw it up, but I've seen him run some regular routes as well."
Reed's caught 15 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown this season, while
the Mustangs' other receiver, Shedrick Williams, was an all-district
pick last season. He's caught just seven passes for 158 yards, but three
of those were for touchdowns.
"Two weeks ago against Andrews (a 14-0 Sweetwater win), we didn't have
the ball that much to throw it. Last week, in the first quarter there
was a lot of wind, and it was hard to throw the ball," Ritchey said. "We
did throw it in the second and third quarters, and in the fourth quarter
we had some other kids in there by then."
Whoever has been in has been running behind what Ritchey said was a
"young" line, but one that averages just under 250 pounds.
"We've really been pleased with the offensive line. It's been a major
source of our success," he said. Daniel Green was moved from tight end
to guard this season, and tackle Tony Luz is the other returnee from
last season's team.
On defense, Sweetwater was giving up a lot of yards and points -- for
Sweetwater -- up until four weeks ago. Since then, they've allowed only
a pair of meaningless touchdowns while surrendering under 200 yards per
"We's real young defensively, and we still do some things we shouldn't
do," Ritchey said. "We were giving up a lot of big plays early. We've
had a decent last couple of weeks, and the coaches have really
concentrated on not giving up those 75-yard plays, but a lot of that is
due to inexperience."
Belew said the Eagles will have to find an opening in the Mustangs'
defense in order not only to score, but to give their own overworked
defense a rest.
"Last week we got the ball down by two touchdowns and moved the ball
downfield 65 yards and scored. That's what we have to do to be
competitive," he said. "We can't leave the defense on the field for
60-70 plays, especially when you're facing great offensive players like
Blueford and Boatright. You can't give them too many opportunities."
Defensively, the Eagles will be hurt by the absence of linebacker Joseph
Strain, who had an MRI done in the knee he injured late in last week's
30-7 loss to Andrews.
"That will tell us what his status is, and hopefully, it will be good
news and we'll have him back for the last two games," Belew said. Chris
Reyes will see action at middle linebacker, as will Arnulfo Granado, who
has been at tackle this season after playing linebacker a year ago.
The Mustangs' coach said Reed could be bothered this week by a sprained
wrist, while they also have a starting linebacker, Roman Reyes, hampered
by a knee injury.

Bears, Eagles seek playoff race edge

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PECOS, Oct. 24 -- After surviving a near 30-point comeback at home last
Friday by the Dell City Cougars, the Balmorhea Bears will try to move a
little closer to their third consecutive playoff berth this Friday, when
they close out their regular season road schedule in Sanderson against
the Eagles.
The Bears face Sanderson, the newest District 8-A six-man team, in a
7:30 p.m. start, with the winner taking a one game lead in the race for
the playoffs with only one game remaining.
Balmorhea is 3-1 in district, 6-1 on the season after their 75-70 win at
home over Dell City, in which the Cougars rallied from a 62-32 deficit
by outscoring the Bears, 30-7 in the fourth quarter. A last-second
interception by Zane Rhyne ended Dell City's upset bid and kept
Balmorhea from falling into fifth place in the district standings.
"Dell City basically had a senior team, and people don't realize we're
still a young team," Bears' coach Michael Barrandey said. "We gained
some experience last year, but we have a lot of juniors and sophomores
in our lineup."
Barrandey said two fumbles and tow calls on passes the Bears thought
they intercepted were key to last week's fourth period problems. "Those
four things turned into scores for them, and we had 11 penalties for 145
yards, which hurt. We played well for three quarters, then started
making mistakes in the fourth quarter."
"We've had good workouts in practice this week," Barrandey said. "We've
had a few colds and a few bruises, but hopefully we'll go out and play
well again this week."
Sanderson has done far better in their first year of six-man play than
other teams who have dropped down from 11-man play have fared. The
Eagles are also 3-1 in district, 5-2 overall after a 45-0 win over
Marathon this past Friday. Both of Sanderson's losses came on
consecutive weeks by narrow margins to Dell City, with the first being a
non-district contest.
"I give their coach Vance Jones a lot of credit for that," Barrandey
said. "He knows six man (having won a state title with Marathon 20 years
ago). If they had gone with a coach that didn't know six man, they would
have struggled."
Unlike pass-happy Dell City, which threw for over 500 yards last week,
Sanderson has had most of their success running the ball this season.
"They have a run-over-you type of offense, so they don't score as many
points as a passing team like Dell City," Barrandey said.
Lencho Galvan had three touchdowns last week in the win over Marathon,
while Jesse Martinez had two TD passes after throwing for three in their
51-20 win over Imperial two weeks ago. The Eagles had 334 yards rushing
that night, but were also 10-for-15 through the air for another 106
The winner Friday could be tied for first with Grandfalls, if the
Cowboys lose to Imperial on Friday. But Sanderson has a slight
advantage, since they won't play the Cowboys until their final regular
season game, next week. The Bears lost at Grandfalls three weeks ago,
39-26, giving the Cowboys the tie-breaker edge, Balmorhea is idle next
Friday, and ends regular season play at home on Nov. 8 against Imperial.

Eagle teams face Loboes in rematches

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PECOS, Oct. 24 -- After being swept a week ago by the Andrews Mustangs,
the Pecos Eagles' sub-varsity football teams will try to bounce back
tonight, in their second meeting of the season against the Monahans
Pecos' eighth and ninth grade teams host Monahans, and 4, 5:30 and 7
p.m., while the Eagles' seventh grade and JV squads face the Loboes at
the same starting times in Monahans.
Outside of a 6-0 Loboes in Pecos over the seventh grade gold team last
time, the home teams won all of the games in last month's matchups.
Pecos' JV, which lost its first game of the season in the final seconds
a week ago at Andrews, won a 14-6 homefield decision, while the seventh
graders, 6-0 losers in Andrews last week, downed Monahans, 30-14.
The eighth and ninth grades will be hoping for better results than both
last week and last month in Monahans. The purple team lost 20-0 and the
gold team 8-0 in eighth grade play, while the ninth graders were beaten
by a 35-0 final score.
Last Thursday, the ninth grade fell to 4-2 with a 47-12 loss to
Andrews, while the eighth grade dropped 53-6 and 38-6 purple and gold
contests to the Mustangs. Tonight's games are the final ones at home
this season for Crockett's eighth graders.

Braves allow Yanks to walk away with 8-6 win

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AP Baseball Writer

ATLANTA, Oct. 24 -- Let the great debate begin.

Should the Atlanta Braves have pitched to Bernie Williams, or was it
better to intentionally walk him with third base open and load the bases
for Wade Boggs?

Braves manager Bobby Cox took one of the biggest gambles in baseball
history Wednesday night, and it cost him Game 4 of the World Series.

Boggs drew a bases-loaded walk with two outs in the 10th inning, forcing
home the go-ahead run that gave the New York Yankees an 8-6 win and
evened the Series at two games each.

In the longest game in Series play -- 4 hours, 17 minutes -- New York
overcame a 6-0 deficit to win, ensuring the teams will return to Yankee
Stadium this weekend.

The Braves had not blown a six-run lead this season, and the loss set up
a pivotal matchup tonight in the last game ever to be played at
Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium.

``We've been going over the destiny kind of thing and so far, it's
getting kind of eerie,'' Boggs said. ``The Twilight Zone is starting to

After losing two at home, the Yankees have won twice in Atlanta, making
them 7-0 on the road in this postseason. Tonight, they'll try to make it
three in a row when Andy Pettitte faces Braves ace John Smoltz.

The Yankees can thank a decision by Cox for putting them in position for
one of their most glorious wins ever.

The score was 6-all in the 10th and New York did not seem to have much
going when Jim Leyritz grounded out and reliever Graeme Lloyd, allowed
to bat for the first time because manager Joe Torre was running out of
players, also bounced out against Steve Avery.

But Tim Raines drew a walk and took second on a single by Derek Jeter.
That brought up Williams, the MVP of the AL championship series and a
home run hero the previous night. Cox went to the mound, telling Avery
to intentionally walk him, even though it meant loading the bases.

``Smart thing to do,'' Cox insisted. ``He's the best hitter they've got.
He carried them through Texas, he carried them through Baltimore and
he's knocked the living hell out of us.''

Cox walked the bases loaded in big games before.

In Game 7 of the 1991 World Series against Minnesota, he ordered an
intentional walk to Kirby Puckett with runners on first and third with
one out in the eighth inning and the score 0-0. That strategy worked
when Kent Hrbek lined into a double play, although Jack Morris and the
Twins beat Atlanta 1-0 in the 10th.

This time, it didn't work so well.

Even though rookie Andy Fox was on deck, Cox knew Boggs was still left
in the dugout, the only position player the Yankees had left.

Boggs has a bad back and is in a postseason slump that saw him sit the
last two games against left-handers. But he has 2,697 career hits, along
with one best eyes in baseball that has helped him 1,280 walks.

With no margin for a mistake, Avery got ahead of Boggs 1-2, then threw a
pitch that was barely low. Another close pitch missed, and Avery's
full-count delivery was clearly too high for Boggs' keen eye.

``It hasn't let me down in 15 years,'' Boggs said. ``It's the biggest
walk I've ever had.''

``They weren't walking to get to me,'' he said. ``They were walking to
get to Andy Fox, and that was probably Bobby Cox's whole strategy.''

Torre said Cox's move made sense to him.

``You don't want Bernie Williams to beat you,'' Torre said. ``I don't
think this was anything to second guess.''

Avery, sidelined for two months this season because of muscle problem in
his side, lost his spot in the rotation and is being used in relief.

``Not being able to throw another strike was disappointing, but there's
still a long way to go,'' Avery said.

Brad Clontz relieved, and Ryan Klesko entered at first base in a double
switch. That backfired, too, when Charlie Hayes followed with a pop that
Klesko dropped for an error, allowing another run to score.

Lloyd, who has emerged as a postseason star for the Yankees, escaped a
jam in the ninth, and was the winner. John Wetteland got two outs for a

The victory matched the second-biggest comeback in World Series history.
The biggest was the Philadelphia Athletics' rally from an 8-0 deficit in
a 10-8 win in Game 4 in 1929; there were two other comebacks from
six-run deficits, Brooklyn in 1956 against the Yankees and Toronto in
1993 against Philadelphia.

The Yankees fell behind quickly with Kenny Rogers on the mound. Torre
wanted to drop him from the rotation after two poor starts in the AL
playoffs, but was forced to use him because of a rainout in Game 1.

Fred McGriff's leadoff homer and a misplayed suicide-squeeze bunt by
Jeff Blauser highlighted a four-run second inning, and Rogers left in
the third as Atlanta made it 5-0.

An RBI single by Cecil Fielder that skipped past rookie right fielder
Jermaine Dye for an error keyed a three-run sixth off Denny Neagle that
brought the Yankees to 6-3.

Cox brought in relief ace Mark Wohlers to start the eighth, and he
couldn't hold the lead.

Leyritz, who hit a 15th-inning home run last October that beat Seattle
in the opening round of the playoffs, connected for a three-run shot
that tied it.

``Our scouting report said that if you can get their starters out of the
game early before Wohlers, you stand a pretty good chance of winning the
ballgame,'' Leyritz said. ``So far that worked for us. Tonight, we got
Wohlers, which is a surprise.''

(Copyright 1996 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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State and Regional Sports Pages--San Angelo Standard-Times

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