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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Balmorhea hopeful for cross-country season

Balmorhea Bears’ runner Russell Garlick came in third in his division, and two other runners placed in the Top 10 in their divisions on Aug. 26, during the Bears’ first cross-country meet of the season in Monahans.

Bears’ coach Doug Maynard said Garlick finished third in the high school boys division for smaller schools, while in the junior high boys division Ryan Mondragon was fifth and Nigel Lozano was ninth. On the girls’ side, Maylea McElroy was 12th in the junior high division and Stephanie Alvarez was 12th in the high school division.

“We’ve got a pretty good group coming out, but they’re doing other sports, so it makes it pretty hard to get them all together,” said Maynard. “I’ll probably have them together only for the district meet.”

He said he hopes to have enough runners for a full boys team when district competition takes place in October. “I’m looking for some good things. I had a couple of surprises, with some coming out I didn’t expect, and I’m looking forward to seeing those kids compete.”

The Bea’s next meet is this Saturday in Alpine, at the Sul Ross Invitational.

Pecos sweeps Dell, City, face Van Horn next

There wasn’t much of a question about the margin of difference between the Pecos Eagles and the Dell City Cougars on Friday afternoon. 25-9.

That was the score of all three of the Eagles’ wins over the Cougars, as Pecos extended its winning streak to 11 matches with a sweep of Dell City at the Pecos High School gym. The Eagles will try to make it 12 straight on Tuesday night in Van Horn, when they seek their second win of the season over that group of Eagles on their home court.

Pecos surpassed their win total for all of last season with Friday’s win over the Cougars, in a match that was a late addition to the teams’ schedules.

Pecos trailed only at the start of Game 3 briefly, by a 2-0 score, before coming back. They jumped ahead by a 12-4 margin in Game 1, and were up at one point 21-6, while in Game 2, the Eagles pulled away after the Cougars had closed to within four points, at 11-7.

“Basically we played our game, but when you’re playing someone like that, you have to handle not playing down,” Kimbrough said. “At times we were not as aggressive as we should be.”

Dell City had a couple of good kills from their main hitters, Kim Wallace and Mecca Hickox, but the Cougars often had problems passing the ball to their setters to get in position to set up their two spikers. Meanwhile, the Eagles went to their main hitters in the opening game, with kills by Brittany Rodriguez and Jasmine Rayos, while giving a few other players a chance to get in some time at different spots in the final two games.

“The bench played good tonight, but I don’t really look at them as a bench, because I’m not afraid to put any one of them in there,” Kimbrough said.

The win improved Pecos’ record to 12-4 on the season, with their last loss coming at the hands of Van Horn in the consolation bracket quarterfinals at the Monahans Sandhills Tournament on Aug. 19. Since then, the Eagles have won once in Van Horn, then downed their Eagle counterparts the at the Cantaloupe Classic Tournament in Pecos on Aug. 26.

“The competition wasn’t as strong as it’s been, but we’ll get better competition in Van Horn,” she said. “We’ve beaten them twice and they’ve beaten us once, so we know what they like to try and they know what we like to try, so we’ll try to give them a different look.”

Following Tuesday’s game, the Eagles will travel south to Presidio on Saturday to face t he Blue Devils and the Fort Davis Indians. Pecos beat Fort Davis twice in their own tournament, but had to rally from match point in Game 3 of the tournament finals against Presidio to score a five-set victory against their District 2-3A rivals.

Eagles outrun Bucks to win season opener, 21-14

When you’ve played you home games for two years on artificial turf, and you’ve never won a game on artificial turf, that’s a pretty good indication on how the past two years have gone for the Pecos Eagles football team.

Another is the shortage of touchdowns scored in that time by the Eagles’ leading rusher, Luis Ortega, despite gaining over 2,000 yards on the ground during that same period. The Eagles opened up their 2006 season having never won a game on an artificial surface, including nine games on their own field as well as others in Denver City, Sweetwater, Lubbock, Midland and Odessa, where their turf losing streak began eight years ago.

Meanwhile, their leading rusher for the past two years had averaged better than 5 1/2 yards per carry for his career, but had gotten into the end zone just once every 39 carries during that same span.

But both those negative stats were wiped away on Saturday afternoon at Ratliff Stadium in Odessa, one permanently and the other, the Eagles hope, for the rest of the 2006 season. Pecos finally came out winners on an artificial turf field, while Ortega scored three times out of his 31 carries, rushing for 267 yards, as the Eagles won their season opener over the Alpine Bucks by a 21-14 final score.

“He’s a tremendous running back, but a lot of that goes to our offensive line opening holes up for him,” said Eagles’ coach Chris Henson, who won the battle of head coaching debuts over Monahans’ Shad Hanna. “Once he breaks into the secondary Cowboy (Ortega) has a way of breaking tackles.

“Cowboy’s the type of running back who gets stronger every play he gets, and he only goes one way; he doesn’t play on defense, so that gives him a chance to rest up,” Henson added.

While clouds kept the temperature lower than normal for a mid-afternoon game on Labor Day weekend, the ongoing rains in the area had the humidity levels far above normal for West Texas, which may have played a factor in the game.

Several key Alpine players were forced out of the game due to leg cramps, including the Bucks’ main offensive threat, Marcos Ramos. He was sidelined in the final quarter by leg problems after throwing up there just before halftime when he was nailed in the ribs by safety Xavier Tersero, as Ramos tried to catch a pass across the middle from Moises Estrada.

“Our kids were in better condition. We didn’t have anybody cramping, and they had a couple,” said Henson. “Our secondary really laid some hits. Number 1 (Ramos) was their big play guy and Xavier Tersero put a hit on him that took its toll the rest of the game.”

The Eagles had their own stomach problems, but that came before the game, when Ortega threw up at midfield during the coin flip ceremony. But he was all right a few minutes later, ripping off a 21-yard run on Pecos’ first play following the opening kickoff.

“We had some pre-game jitters,” said Henson. “During the coin toss he puked at the 50-yard-line, but they told me he does that before every game.”

Ortega, who had run for 2,276 yards in his two-plus years on the Eagles’ varsity, had scored only 11 touchdowns in 401 carries, and just four in 224 rushing attempts last season. On Saturday, it took him four carries to get touchdown No. 1, a 15-yarder over the right side of the line. The Eagles earlier had overcome a holding penalty when sophomores Paul Zubeldia and Jeremy Martinez hook up on a 19-yard pass completion, while the third sophomore starter on offense, Hector Ramirez, picked up 14 yards on the following play. Zubeldia then hit Robert Nunez on a 10-yard pass, and Tersero gained nine yards on a counter play before Ortega found the end zone. Timo Reyes’ extra point made it a 7-0 game.

Alpine came out and gained 25 yards on their first play, a pass from Estrada to Ramos, and the Bucks would get down to Pecos’ 30-yard-line before a bad snap was recovered by Bryan Navarette to stop the drive. But the Eagles were unable to move the ball on their next series and the Bucks countered with a 56-yard drive for their first touchdown.

The big play was a 45-yard pass from Estrada to Justin Gonzales on a 3rd-and-20 play from the Alpine 34, as the Eagle defense allowed Gonzales to get behind them on the right sideline. Ramos then converted a 4th-and-1 play with a four-yard run, and two plays later went through the right side of Pecos’ line 10 yards for the score.

Chris Martinez missed the extra point after a penalty nullified his first kick attempt, but the Bucks would tie the game in the second quarter, after the Eagles had upped their lead to 14-6.

Estrada was 5-for-5 passing for 113 yards in just under a quarter-and-a-half, and Alpine appeared headed for its second score after Gonzales ran for 31 yards down to Pecos’ 35-yard-line. But two plays later Estrada tried to force a pass across the middle to Adan Fuentez, and Ramirez stepped in front for the interception at the 24-yard line. Ortega would run for 17, 16 and nine yards on his next three carries, then bounced outside and broke a couple of tackles on the way to his second score of the day, from 27 yards out.

Reyes’ extra point made it an eight-point lead with 3:50 left in the half, but 13 seconds later it was tied, as Aaron Natera took Ruben Salgado’s kickoff at the 13 and avoided a couple of tackles as he raced up the left sideline 87 yards for the score. Estrada than passed to Fuentez for the tying two-point conversion.

As it turned out, the Bucks’ quarterback would complete just two more passes the rest of the day, both to Ramos, but for just five yards in the third period. Ramos returned briefly after taking the hit from Tercero, but saw only limited action in the final period, while his replacement on offense Andy Lujan, also cramped up while running the ball midway through the final period, and left the game. Earlier, Natera also was forced to the sidelines after taking a hard hit from Justin Contreras on the kickoff return following Ortega’s third score.

Ortega had 126 yards rushing by halftime and would gain another 41 yards on Pecos’ first drive of the second half, which resulted in the game-winning touchdown. This one was on a 10-yard sweep around left end with 5:26 left in the third period.

Pecos’ next drive stalled after a 21-yard run by Ortega, but his punt pinned Alpine back at their own 3-yard-line. But Lujan then gained 14 yards on two carries, and Ramos then gained 16 yards on what turned out to be his final carry of the day, as he again was sidelined by cramps.

But the Bucks got an additional15 yards on the play due to facemask call, one of nine penalties against the Eagles, and then got a break, when quarterback Estrada was able to dive on the ball 12 yards downfield after a fumble by Lujan on a 3-and-10 carry. Another first down running followed, and Alpine then got the ball to the 15 when Martinez was flagged for pass interference on Gonzales.

But after he ran for two yards on the next play, Navarette caught Skylan Green for a two-yard loss, Martinez then deflected a pass for Bobby McWilliams and on 4th-and-10, Estrada threw behind Fuentez on a slant pass at the 5-yard-line, giving the ball back to Pecos with 3:41 to play.

“That goal line stand was real big for us,” said Henson, who added the Eagles had problems handling the Bucks’ I-formation plays. “They were in the power-I for the first time all season, and I thought the kids did a good job adjusting to overcome it.”

Ortega than wrapped up his day by gaining 12 yards on two carries before breaking out of a pile and rumbling 38 yards to the Bucks’ 35. He then clinched the win with another first down run of 18 yards, and the Eagles were then able to run out the final 40 seconds of the game.

The win was the first season-opening victory by the Eagles since 2003, when they started the year with a victory over Midland Christian, while the Bucks lost to the Eagles for the first time in four seasons. Pecos will now try to follow up their first victory on turf with their first win on their own artificial field this Friday, when they host Andrews. The Mustangs, who dropped down to Class 3A this season, dropped their season opener to Midland Christian on Friday by a 45-23 final score, but have won their last 10 games against the Eagles.

Lions’ size, speed too much for Bears

The Balmorhea Bears were already at a numbers disadvantage going into their season-opening football game on Friday against the El Paso Faith Christian Lions. But the size and speed differences were a much bigger factor in El Paso’s 58-13 win over the Bears.

Tarik Paul ran for 306 yards and scored four touchdowns, while the Bears were never able to get a consistent running game going against El Paso, which grabbed a 36-0 lead by halftime.

“They’re a good blocking team,” said Bears’ coach Debiasie Mendoza, who lost his first game as head coach for Balmorhea. “We knew their game plan and the way they were going to block.”

Faith Christian had just 16 players, but unlike Balmorhea, 13 of those were juniors and seniors, and aside from Paul, the Lions also had a big size advantage on the Bears with 230-pound running back Daniel Arredondo and linemen Michael Hale and Joshua Rachon.

“We were very out-sized, but that doesn’t mean anything,” Mendoza said. “I know we’re not a deep team, so we’re going to have to go out and execute. We executed on a couple of plays, but not enough.”

Things started off well for the Bears, with Ryan Woodruff running for 19 yards on the first play from scrimmage. But the next three carries netted Balmorhea just three yards and on fourth down, quarterback Jose Rodriguez was sacked by David King for an eight-yard loss, giving El Paso the ball at midfield.

Arredondo would rumble for 14 yards on the next play, while Paul carried the ball on the next three attempts, the last going for 13 yards and a touchdown. Mathew Hernandez’s extra point kick made it 8-0.

Balmorhea wouldn’t get another first down until late in the period, while Paul would run for 40 yards on the first play of Faith Christian’s next series, then gained 10 more yards on a 4th-and-8 play before Arredondo finished off the drive with a one-yard score. On the next series, Paul completed a 15-yard pass to Rachon and then added a 21-yard run, before Arredondo again scored from a yard out, this time on a 4th-and-goal play to open the second period.

Balmorhea would survive El Paso’s next possession, when Paul fumbled the ball after a 20-yard run, with freshman Adan Roman recovering near midfield. But the Bears would then lose Woodruff for the rest of the game, when he was hit and reinjured his knee while throwing a shovel pass to another freshman, Gabriel Jurado.

Mendoza said it was a problem the senior has from a previous knee injury, causing the kneecap to lock. And while he said the injury wasn’t serious, “It’s something we’re going to have watch out for. We’re going to have to watch his number of plays from now on.” The Bears would lose the ball on downs at El Paso’s 30-yard-line and two plays later Paul would race 48 yards for his second score of the game with 3:08 left in the half. He would score once more with 36 seconds left in the half, this time on a six-yard run after he completed passes of 29 and 15 yards to Rachorn and Hale.

The lead would grow to 44-0 just over a minute into the second half, when Paul connected with King for a 37-yard touchdown pass. Balmorhea finally got on the scoreboard on their next series, when Rodriguez eluded a couple of Faith Christian tacklers and found Jonathan Carrasco for a 22-yard touchdown pass, after a 41-yard kickoff return by Brandon Mendoza set the Bears up in El Paso territory.

Balmorhea missed their extra point, giving El Paso a chance to end the game under the 45-point rule on their next possession, which resulted in a 56-yard TD run by Paul. But the Lions also failed on their extra point kick, leaving the score at 44-6. The Bears took less than 30 seconds to get their second score after recovering an onsides kick, as Rodriguez connected with Russell Garlick on a 46-yard touchdown.

Mendoza then passed to Carrasco to make it 50-13 with 6:19 left in the period, but the Lions were able to end the game after their next score, as Hernandez made his two-point kick following a 25-yard touchdown run by Arredondo.

“Number 32 (Paul) is very fast and he’s strong. He’s quick and they were able to block,” Mendoza said. “With a running back of that caliber, all he has to do is get outside and he’s gone.”

The Bears will take their 0-1 record on the road this coming Friday, as they travel to Fort Davis to face the Indians. The two have been district rivals the past four seasons, but with the UIL splitting up six-man football into large and small-school districts, the Bears were placed in the smaller school classification, while the Indians are in with other larger six-man schools.

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