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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Pecos goes back to Stockton for district opener

You’ve got to crawl before you can walk, and for the Pecos Eagles’ volleyball team, hopes of returning to the playoffs will begin on Tuesday, when Pecos opens District 1-3A play with their 16th straight road contest of the season, in Fort Stockton against the Prowlers, starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Eagles were the last team in Class 4A to go undefeated, posting a 34-0 record while winning the state title in 1987. They also at one point won 76 straight district matches under coach Nora Geron. The Eagles weren’t nearly as dominant in the 1990s, but did manage to string together seven straight playoff appearances under Geron and coach Becky Granado. But when Pecos takes the court at the Williams Center on Tuesday, they’ll be trying to end a 10-match losing streak in district play, dating back to the middle of the 2004 season.

The Eagles missed the playoffs that year and were winless in district play in 2005. They also haven’t won a district match over Fort Stockton since 2003 but two weeks ago went down to Fort Stockton and beat the Prowlers in five games, 25-10, 17-25, 25-19, 21-25, 15-10. Pecos followed that up last Tuesday with a three-game win over Kermit, the Eagles 19th win in their past 21 matches, which put them at 20-6 for the season under new head coach Helen Kimbrough.

“It’s going to help us, but we still have a lot to work on as far as getting a game plan,” Kimbrough said last week. “We’ve already played them once, so we know what they have, but they know what we have.”

Pecos’ current five-week road trip won’t end until next week, when they host Presidio. The Eagles already own a win on the Blue Devils’ home court in the past month, to go along with their victory on Sept. 19 at Fort Stockton

Tuesday’s match will be only the second for Pecos in two weeks. They’ve had the past two weekends off, which Kimbrough said she would have preferred not having in the run-up to district play. But she said, “We may not have games, but I’m always practicing. You’ve got to practice for the team you’re playing and never look ahead.”

The game the Eagles will try to avoid looking ahead to is Saturday’s match in Monahans against the Loboes, who have racked up a string of district wins over the past four seasons matching Pecos’ run in the 1980s. The Loboes, Class 3A state champs in 2004 and runners-up last year, open their district schedule against Presidio, and have not lost a game, let alone a match in district play over the past four season.

Meanwhile, Fort Stockton has struggled since their loss to Pecos, dropping a pair of matches at home last Tuesday to Crane and Fort Davis, while losing to Wink in their final pre-district match on Saturday.

Kryshna Alfaro, Erinn Blanco and Angela Newton have been the Prowlers’ leading hitters this season, and Fort Stockton again will have a front-line height advantage over Pecos. But Kimbrough said in the teams’ first meeting the Eagles were able to do a good job containing the Prowlers with their regular starters in the line-up, but ran into problems when they tried out some new combinations after their opening game victory.

Pecos’ junior varsity and freshman teams will also face Fort Stockton on Tuesday. Those matches are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. starts.

Fourth quarter TDs help Eagles escape Wildcats

Staying focused during homecoming week events is a pretty common problem for high school football teams. And really common over the years for the Pecos Eagles, with Friday night’s game against the Anthony Wildcats the latest example.

The Eagles jumped out to a 13-0 lead early in the second quarter, then saw the Wildcats score 21 straight points while marching inside the Eagles’ 40-yard-line as the fourth quarter opened. But two plays into the period running Josh Zaragosa lost a fumble, which the Eagles were able to turn into a score, and Pecos would score again after the second of Xavier Tersero’s three interceptions to finally regain the lead with 3 1/2 minutes to play, as the Eagles escaped their District 1-3A opener with a 31-21 victory.

Luis Ortega ran for 295 yards and four touchdowns, and Pecos gained 396 of their 411 overall yards through the air, and they were able to take advantage of two big fourth quarter turnovers by the Wildcats and win their first district game since 2001. The Eagles won despite being flagged for a dozen penalties in the first half, and 17 overall on the night.

“There was a lack of discipline as far as football fundamentals,” said Eagles’ coach Chris Henson. “We were having a tough week with homecoming, when it’s so easy to be distracted. Plus we had some kids with family problems, and their minds were also elsewhere with the six-weeks test, so I feel pretty lucky to come out with a win.”

The Eagles had seven illegal procedure calls, one personal foul, a defensive offsides, two holding calls - one on offense, one on defense - and a pass interference call in the first half. But Anthony also had a couple of penalties to regret, especially an offsides on Pecos’ first offensive play of the game that negated Marco Aguilar’s 32-yard return of a fumbled snap by quarterback Paul Zubeldia.

The sophomore had a quiet night, competing just two of five passes for 15 yards, and not throwing the ball at all in the second half other than an extra point try. However, Anthony quarterback Jose Solis also had a night to forget, despite a perfect throw to Martin Anaya in the corner of the end zone from 24 yards out with 10 seconds left in the half to give his team a 14-13 lead. Solis was just 6-for-23 on the night with four interceptions, and overthrew receiver Sal Garcia twice late in the fourth period with the Wildcats trailing by five.

Garcia, who returned a punt for the Wildcats’ first score and ran an end around for a 14 yard TD in the third period that upped Anthony’s lead to 21-13, got behind the Eagles’ defense on deep routes in the final minutes, only to see the ball sail over his head. The Wildcats also had several other open receivers who either dropped balls or were missed by Solis, though Henson said part of the pass coverage problem was due to problems with the defensive line.

“One of the things we’ve got to work on is getting pressure on the quarterback. We had some good coverage downfield, but we’re giving the quarterback too much time, and that’s something we’ve got to work at,” he said.

Pecos did get pressure on Solis on Anthony’s first series, after Solis completed his first three passes and marched inside Pecos’ 15 after recovering an onsides kick. The pressure forced Solis to hurry his throw down the middle and Jeremy Martinez picked off his pass at the 2-yard-line.

Pecos already led 7-0 on Tersero’s first touchdown of the season, a 52-yard run on a 2nd-and-13 counter play, after Pecos’ first penalty of the night. Following the interception, Ortega would run 39 yards on a draw play after a busted play and consecutive motion calls on Pecos’ second series left the Eagles in a 2nd-and-25 hole. It would set up the first of his four touchdowns on the night, a 5-yard run 19 seconds into the second period that gave Pecos a 13-0 lead.

But the penalties finally started to cost the Eagles after that. A holding call after a punt by Anthony pushed Pecos back to their own 21, and then a motion call with the Eagles planning to go for it on 4th-and-2 from the 27 forced the punt that Garcia was able to take around right end for a score. On the next series, the Eagles couldn’t get out of a 1st-and-25 hole and ended up losing the ball on downs at the Anthony 40. Then, after Justin Contreras was able to pressure Solis into a fourth down incompletion at the Eagles’ 16, a holding call wiped out a 12-yard run by Ortega and forced him to punt from his own end zone 40 second before halftime. Pecos was hit with defensive holding on the next play, and Solis hooked up with Anaya one play after that for the go-ahead score.

Anthony would take the second half kickoff and again march into Pecos territory, before Tersero made a diving interception on a Solis pass to Anaya at the Eagle 18-yard-line. This time, Anthony was able to stop the Eagles without any help from penalties, and the Wildcats would then go 72 yards in eight plays, on a series that began with a 20-yard run by Garcia, and ended with his 14-yard TD with 2:46 left in the period.

The series also included Eagle penalty No. 13, an offsides. Penalty No. 14 came a few minutes later after Pecos had reached midfield, and two plays after that, Ortega couldn’t handle a pitch from Zubeldia and fumbled, with Ivan Valdez recovering for Anthony. Zaragosa would run for nine yards on the final play of the period, and Anthony would pick up a first down to open the fourth quarter, before Aaron Urias stripped the ball from Zaragosa, with Aaron Urias recovering to start turning the momentum back to the Eagles.

However, before it really switched, Pecos had to overcome penalties No. 15 and 16, two more illegal motion calls, and another fumbled snap by Zubeldia that Ortega was able to recover. They survived thanks to a 16-yard run by Ortega and a 10-yard run by Tersero that set-up Ortega’s second touchdown, and the Eagles 17th and final - and strangest - penalty of the night.

Both came on the same play, as Ortega broke through the line and went 32-yards to the end zone, capping it off with a somersault across the goal line as Garcia was closing in on defense to try and make the tackle. The flip drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag that didn’t negate the score, but it did force Pecos to try for the tying two-point conversion from the 18-yard-line, and Zubeldia’s pass to Tersero was incomplete.

“Cowboy’s not a flashy guy, so it was uncharacteristic for him to do that,” Henson said. “He came back and apologized and said he’d make it up, and he did.”

Tersero would set up what turned out to be the winning score by intercepting another Solis pass for Anaya at the Eagles’ 47 and returning it to the Wildcats’ 43. Ortega would gain nine yards and Hector Ramirez then picked up the first down before the Eagles went back to their senior for seven straight carries, capping it off with a 2-yard score with 3:29 to play.

Anthony would set themselves back with a motion call before Solis misfired on three straight passes, giving the ball back to Pecos a minute later. This time, Ortega got the ball five straight times, the last on a run around right end from 12 yards out with 1:11 left in the game. Solis would again try to go deep in the closing seconds, but Tersero ended their last hope with his third interception, at the Pecos 8-yard-line.

Ortega’s 295-yard night put him at 1,120 yards midway through the season, while the Eagles go to 3-2 on the year and hand Anthony its first loss in four games. But things will get tougher for Pecos this week, when they go to Monahans to face the Loboes, who closed out their pre-district schedule on Friday with a 14-7 loss to Graham at the Mustang Bowl in Sweetwater , their first loss of the season after three straight wins.

“Everybody is going to scheme something different to stop Cowboy, which is why we have to stop hurting ourselves,” Henson said.

Bears’ defense blanks Longhorns in second half

It was a sweet homecoming for the Balmorhea Bears as they played host to the Buena Vista Longhorns Friday night at Balmorhea, but it was a ball game through all four quarters between two well-matched teams. It was not until midway through the fourth quarter that the Bears began to dominate the Longhorn team and ended up winning by a 44-22 final score.

The two teams dueled back at the first of the game the highlight being an obviously rejuvenated Bear defense led by returning starters Ryan Woodruff and Russell Garlic.

At the end of one quarter the Bears led 6-0 but the Longhorns were driving.

After being stuffed twice trying to go up the middle the Longhorns ran a sweep around the right end and found the end zone. A missed point-after kick left the score tied 6-6 with 5:50 left in the first half.

After that both offenses found traction.

The Bears returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 20-yard line and on second-and-five Brandon Mendoza broke lose and was heading for the end zone when he fumbled the ball high in the air at the Longhorn 20 yard line. Quarterback Jose Rodriguez nabbed the ball in midair and rumbled to the five before being brought down.

On the next play Rodriguez tossed the ball across the length of the field to find an open Harry Barron in the corner for the touchdown.

“Harry is one of the guys who has really stepped up,” Coach Debeasie Mendoza said, whose Bear team has been hobbled by injuries in the opening weeks of the season.

“Harry caught two TD passes and has four TD’s in the past two games,” Mendoza said.

The Bears missed the point-after kick but were ahead by six points.

The lead only survived 14 seconds as Buena Vista took the kickoff all the way for a score and did not miss the point-after kick leaving the score at 14-12 Longhorns.

The teams traded scores again before the quarter was out and when the homecoming festivities began at halftime the Longhorns led by two, 22-20.

A fired up Bear team set up to receive the kickoff in the third quarter and Brandon Mendoza fielded the kick on the five yard line and returned it all the way to the Longhorn 26.

On the second play from scrimmage Rodriguez connected with Barron for his second score of the night and the Bears made good on the point after kick as well to go on top 28-22.

Enter the Bear defense.

After playing well for the first half, the Bear defense played ferociously in the second half and the next Longhorn possession ended on fourth and fourteen with Garlick and Woodruff combining on a picture perfect open-field tackle.

After a long Mendoza run the Bears stalled on the Longhorn 27 and were looking at their own fourth down and long.

Rodriguez handed off to Mendoza around the left end and Garlick’s lead blocking cleared a path all the way to the end zone. The points-after kick was good and the Bears began to pull away 36-22.

Another unanswered score put the Bears comfortably ahead 44-22 and Coach Mendoza began to rotate in his substitutes with about four minutes left to play. When the final whistle blew the score was 44-22.

“It was a good game for us. The defense really stepped up and having Woodruff and Garlick back helped,” Mendoza said.

Woodruff has been on the bench with injuries since the first game and Garlick missed the last two games.

“Our offense did a good job as well - especially the line. Our line did a great job,” he said.

Mendoza said that his Bears had a chance next week against Rankin. “They are very fast. If we can control the ball and stay out of a shoot out with them, I think we have a good chance he said.

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Pecos Enterprise
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