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for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, September 8, 2006

Pecos faces Sweetwater in tennis opener

The Pecos Eagles tennis team will get their delayed 2006 fall tennis season going Saturday morning, when they travel over to Monahan to take on the Sweetwater Mustangs, beginning at 10 a.m.

Bernadette Ornelas takes over at head coach from Mike Ortiz, after giving up the job following the 2001 season. She said she would be without a few players who are in football and volleyball, but would have most of her squad available for the match against the Mustangs.

“I’ve got five returning seniors,” she said. “From last year we only lost one person, Imari (Ornelas), and we’ve got everybody else back on the girls’ side.”

She said the absences would be more noticeable for the boys on Saturday, but “other than that, we’re looking pretty strong. Right now we’re working on our fundamentals, and getting back into the swing of things.”

District play won’t take place until the spring, but with the new district alignment, and with Presidio not fielding a tennis team, the Eagles will only have Monahans and Fort Stockton in their district this season.

“I’m looking forward to winning the district title,” she said, and the Eagles will get to face both Monahans and Fort Stockton during the fall schedule, before district matches are played starting in February.

Eagles run into Mustangs after 9-year break

The running shoe is on the other foot, so to speak, for the Pecos Eagles and Andrews Mustangs, who’ll play their first regular season football game in nine years this Friday night at 7:30 p.m., when the teams meet in the Eagles’ 2006 home opener.

Pecos and Andrews haven’t scrimmaged the last few years, but haven’t played a regular season since 1997, the last time the two were together in the same district. In that game, Andrews’ Shaud Williams ran for 229 yards, which allowed the Mustangs to survive just 21 yards total offense and zero pass completions by the rest of the squad, as they came away with a 17-7 homefield victory over the Eagles.

This time, when the teams meet on Friday, it will be Eagles’ running back Luis Ortega who’ll be the focus of the Mustangs attentions, after he accounted for 267 of Pecos’ 334 yards in offense last Saturday, in Pecos’ 21-14 victory over Alpine.

“When you just sit down as a fan, Ortega just stands out, without a doubt,” said Andrews’ coach Blaine Springston, who was able to watch last Saturday’s game in Odessa while his assistant coaches took notes for the scouting report. “He’s got strength, he’s hard to bring down and he has good vision.”

Andrews is coming off their worst season since 1987, after a string of playoff appearances in Class 4A. This year, the Mustangs have dropped to Class 3A, where they’ll be paired with Pecos’ district rivals from last season, Greenwood and Lamesa, along with Snyder. Andrews will be trying to bounce back against the smaller schools this season, while the Eagles will be trying to rebound from consecutive 1-9 years and can match their victory total for the past two seasons with a win on Friday.

Aside from the running back similarities, the Eagles and Mustangs also share rough recent experiences in their season openers against Midland Christian. The Eagles were in a close game against Midland Christian after one quarter a year ago, only to see Midland use a series of mistakes to grab a 35-0 halftime lead, on the way to a 55-6 victory.

Things were a little better for Andrews last Friday at home against Midland. Midland Christian again used a series of second quarter mistakes to grab a 35-7 halftime lead, on the way to a 45-23 win. But despite the score, the Mustangs were only outgained by 29 yards in the loss.

“Defensively we had out backs against the wall as far as field position,” Springston said. “We played good defense at times, and at times we didn’t. We didn’t play very well on the first series and in the last two minutes of the second quarter.”

“The score doesn’t indicate how good Andrews is,” said Henson. “They’re big and fast and it will be a good test for us. They’re very well coached.”

Things fell apart for Pecos against Midland Christian last season on a turnover inside the 5-yard-line following a long run by Ortega, and Henson said things fell apart for Andrews after they lost the ball inside Midland Christian’s 3-yard-line in the second period.

“We had four turnovers that were turned into scores,” said Springston. “Two of them were blocked passes that were then intercepted and two of them were fumbles. We were our own worst enemy. I’m certainly not taking anything away from Midland Christian, but you can’t turn the ball over four times a game and win.”

Turnovers also have been a big problem for Pecos in recent years, but the Eagles didn’t give the ball away once in Saturday’s win, which helped them offset a nine-penalty day. “We’re plus one in turnovers and we’re going to work on improving that,” Henson said. “We’ve been working on strip drills to try and get turnovers.”

While Andrews doesn’t figure to have as strong a ground attack on Friday as they did nearly a decade ago with Williams, who is now entering his third season with the Buffalo Bills, the Eagles will have to worry a lot more this time around with the Mustangs’ air attack.

Quarterback Fernando Guevara was 14-for-27 for 173 yards and a touchdown a week ago, while running for another 67 yards, including a 24-yard TD run that tied the game midway through the second period, before the wheels came off for Andrews.

“He’s played quarterback all the way through the system, but last season he was our backup quarterback and free safety,” said Springston.

“He’s the one we’ve got to stop,” Henson said. “We’ve got to take him out of the game.” Six different players caught passes in Andrews’ opener, and Henson said, “They do a lot of things off play-action pass, the shotgun and they run the option. … They’ve got several good receivers who run very crisp routes. They’ll probably give us every pass formation so our secondary will have their work cut out for them.”

The Eagles could be minus one of their starting cornerbacks, sophomore Timo Reyes, who hurt his knee in practice on Monday. Henson said if he can’t play, Jeremy Martinez will start at cornerback, while Ruben Salgado will take over as placekicker.

Pecos’ streak reaches 12 with VH win

The Pecos Eagles’ volleyball win streak reached a dozen matches on Tuesday night in Van Horn, as Pecos scored a four-game victory over the Class 2A Eagles, their second win this year in Van Horn and third out of four matches against them this season.

But the Eagles’ streak figures to get its toughest test on Saturday, when they travel south to Presidio for a pair of matches against t he host Blue Devils and Fort Davis Indians. Play is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m.

The Eagles won their first match on Tuesday, 25-15, then lost 25-17 before pulling out a pair of close matches, by 25-23, 25-22 scores. “The first game we came out and played a great game. We were doing exactly what we were supposed to be doing,” said Eagles’ coach Helen Kimbrough, though she said after the 10-point win, Pecos lost its focus in Game 2.

“They figured out they needed to be focused by the third game, but we had to work for it,” she said. “It doesn’t matter whether a team is weak or not. We have to play focused. That’s what we still have to learn.”

She said the Eagles hurt themselves at times with unforced errors. “We missed some serves which helped Van Horn in the game, and we had a lot of hits that we hit out or wide, and I had to call a time out to tell them you can’t just hit it as hard as you can, you’ve got to see the court and find your openings and place the ball.”

“We did have a lot of long rallies, and they kept their attention to it, and they stepped it up when they needed to step up and we did win the game,” Kimbrough said.

After a 1-4 start, which was capped off by a loss to Van Horn, the Eagles have rolled off a dozen wins, with their toughest one coming on Aug. 26 in the finals of their own Cantaloupe Classic Tournament. Pecos dropped the first two games of the title match to Presidio, 25-23, 25-13, and were down in Game 3 24-21 before rallying for a 26-24 victory. The Eagles then took charge in the final two games, winning 25-6, 15-8 to take the tournament title.

It was the Eagles’ first win over a District 2-3A rival since October of 2004, when they defeated Presidio in the first half of district play. The Blue Devils came back to beat Pecos in the rematch and in a playoff for the third place playoff berth, and the Eagles went 0-6 against Presidio, Fort Stockton and Monahans last season.

“It will be a good match. We played them in the tournament, and they’ve got film of us, so they know what we can do and can’t do,” Kimbrough said. “We didn’t get film of them, but I remember what they did. They’ve got some good outside hitters, and if we don’t do better at moving to the ball, we’ll be in trouble. But I think the girls are ready to step it up.” Kimbrough said Pecos’ junior varsity and freshman teams also played well in sweeping Van Horn on Tuesday. The ninth graders won by 25-18, 25-12 scores, while the JV took their match, 25-19, 25-23.

While the Eagles play in Presidio, Crockett Middle School’s seventh and eighth grade volleyball teams will be hosting their own tournament on Saturday at the Pecos High School gym. The purple eighth grade team will face Kermit and the seventh grade gold team will take on Wink at 8 a.m., while the eighth grade gold team will take on the winner of the Odessa Crockett-Crane match at 10:30 a.m. and the seventh grade purple team will also play the winner of the Odessa-Crane match in their half of the bracket at that time.

Van Horn faces Presidio, Marfa takes on Odessa Bowie and Wink faces Fort Stockton in the other opening round matches for the eighth graders. The other seventh grade matches have Kermit facing Marfa, Odessa Bowie against Presidio and Van Horn facing Fort Stockton.

Eagles run in Alpine after Seminole meet

Pecos Eagle runner Trina Morales made it into the Top 20 this past Saturday during the second cross-country meet of the 2006 season, held at Seminole.

Coach Rudy Jurado said Morales placed 19th with a 11:16 time. She was one of three girls and one of 10 runners overall to compete for the Eagles at Seminole.

“Trina was the only one who medaled by placing in the Top 20,” Jurado said. There were 97 runners in the girls division and 94 on the boys’ side at the meet, and the Eagles’ coach added that the courses for both the boys and girls were a little shorter than their normal three- and two-mile lengths.

Kathryn Lamka placed 43rd and Heather Lamka was 46th on the girls’ side, with 12:00 and 12:06 times. On the boys’ side, German Rodriguez had Pecos’ best finish, placing 47th with a 17:27 time. He was followed y Gus Mendoza, 52nd with a 17:38 time, Edward Rodriguez with a 64th place finish and an 18:03 time; Stephan Apolinar, who was 66th with an 18:08 time, and Jesse Juarez, who was 74th with a time of 18:33.

“All of those runners who ran on the varsity level were all freshman,” Jurado said. Most had run on the junior varsity level in Pecos’ season opening meet at Monahans. Maurice Johnson placed 11th with a 15:01 time and Austin Vernon was 30th with a 17:38 time in the junior varsity boys division.

Jurado said the Eagles would be running this weekend at the Sul Ross Invitational in Alpine. “Normally we go to San Angelo at this time, but we changed it up to go to Alpine,” he said. “Sul Ross holds it, and they told me they’ll run a creek, so it will be muddy, and there will be a hill they go up through rough terrain, so it will be a good training session for us.”

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