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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Second half mistakes cost Eagles in 35-20 loss to Jackets

The effort was better for the Pecos Eagles, in their second football game of the 2008 season on Friday night. But the Eagles’ technique still needs work as they dropped their home opener to the Kermit Yellowjackets.

The Eagles had two turnovers and problems tackling in the second half, which allowed the Jackets to roll up 291 yards in offense in the final two periods and three touchdowns, as Kermit improved to 2-0 and the Eagles dropped to 0-2 with a 35-20 loss.

“The kids looked a lot better all around, special teams, offense, defense, and some of the younger kids had pretty good games,” said Eagles’ coach Chris Henson. “But we still have a long way to go.”

Running back Chris Pando gained 117 yards and scored twice, while quarterback Austin Grubbs threw for 138 yards and a touchdown for Kermit. The Eagles, who went into the game minus five starters who missed two practices following Pecos’ season-opening loss at Alpine, got 108 yards rushing from one of those replacement starters, Arturo Munoz, while Paul Zubeldia threw for over 200 yards for the second time in three years against Kermit.

But Zubeldia was picked off twice in the fourth quarter, with the first leading to the Jackets’ final touchdown, and the Eagles also hurt themselves with 10 penalties on the night to just one for Kermit, which was offset by a personal foul against Pecos in the closing minutes of the first half.

“I don’t know if the kids wore down a little bit at the end, but a lot of our kids were playing both ways,” said Henson, who went with three sophomores in the backfield along with Zubeldia, and said new linebackers Chris Martinez and Larry Sparkman played well in their first varsity starts.

“Our defensive ends and our linebackers improved in their technique. The ends weren’t running upfield as much, but there were still a few times when they got out of position,” Henson said.

Despite the big numbers given up in the second half, the Eagles did much better on defense than in their 41-21 loss to Alpine, when the Bucks built up a 28-0 lead midway through the second period. This time, the Eagles were able to hold Kermit scoreless in the opening quarter, despite turning the ball over inside their own 40 on the fourth play of the game. Zubeldia and new wingback Donovan Rodriguez missed on an exchange on a play where it appeared Kermit had jumped offsides, but no flag was thrown. Michael Gallardo recovered for the Jackets at the Eagles’ 38, but two plays later tight end Andy Berzoza was hit hard while bobbling a pass from Grubbs and it bounced into the hands of linebacker Lomas Gonzales for his first interception of the season.

Kermit would score early in the second period, on an eight-yard run by former Eagle Phillip Williams. That capped a drive that opened with a 23-yard run by Michael Orona and featured a pair of first down passes by Grubbs, to Joey Muniz and Gabriel Chavez.

But the Eagles came back and went on a 4 1/2 minute drive of their own, tying the game on a 20-yard run by Muniz, who opened the drive with a 12-yard run and then picked up four yards on a 3rd-and-1 at the Jackets’ 45. Zubeldia also connected for 20-yards with Ariel Salgado on a 3rd-and-7 play, where the sophomore broke clear of the secondary, but then bobbled the ball and was caught at the Kermit 20.

“Arturo did a good job running the ball,” Henson said. “We worked with him on holding onto the ball, and he did that, and our offensive line did a good job opening some holes. Coach (Jeff) Green did a good job coaching them and they were flying off the ball, and Isaiah Patino and Donovan Rodriguez did a great job of lead blocking.

However, the tie was short-lived, as Kermit needed only 1:23 to regain the lead. Grubbs connected with tight end Trevor Leeson for 26 yards and on the next play Pando scored his first touchdown of the night, a 31-yard run around left end. Pecos’ next drive ended on downs at midfield, as Zubeldia was pressured on a 4th-and-4 pass attempt to Jeremy Martinez. Pecos would then give Kermit a first down on an offsides penalty and Grubbs would run for another. But the offsetting penalties – a hold against Kermit and a personal foul against Pecos for a late hit on Chavez – negated his 13-yard catch at the Eagles’ 15, and as time ran down Albert Carrasco, who was perfect on extra point tries, came up short on a 44-yard field goal attempt.

Kermit’s Brandon Arnsworth had a 33-yard run on the opening series of the second half, as the Jackets drove from their own 34 to inside the Eagles’ 10. But Orona was stopped for a loss by Jonathan Dominguez at the Pecos 11 and on 4th-and-3, Grubbs was stopped just short on a quarterback sneak attempt, giving the Eagles the ball at their own 5.

Pecos would get one first down run from Muniz, but were stopped after that, and on the next series Grubbs hit Chavez for 25-yards on a 3rd-and-7, and then on a 4th-and-5 from the Eagles’ 33 found Muniz across the middle for a touchdown to make it 21-7 with 2:18 left in the period.

That margin lasted only 37 seconds. Pecos saw most of a 22-yard gain by Muniz wiped out by a sidelines interference penalty for being in the path of the side judge on Muniz’s run, but on the next play Zubeldia went deep and found Luis Morales down the left sideline for a 75-yard touchdown. Morales then added the extra point to get Pecos back to within seven as the period ended.

Grubbs was again able to connect with Chavez as the quarter came to an end, this time on a 26-yard pass to put Kermit deep in Pecos territory. But on the first play of the final period Orona was hit from behind and fumbled, with Jake Varela recovering for the Eagles at the 9.

But having dodged that bullet, the Eagles came up two yards short of a first down and were forced to punt. This time, the Jackets went with Pando on the ground, and the senior had runs of 16, nine and 25 yards, the last getting the ball down to the Pecos 1. Pando was stopped short of the goal line by the Eagles on two consecutive runs, but Grubbs then snuck over on third down and Carrasco added the extra point to make it a 28-14 game.

Down by two touchdowns with 5:49 to play, the Eagles had to start from the 11 after a muffed kickoff and this time a deep pass to Morales was held up in the wind and intercepted by Jonathan Blankenship, who brought the ball from the Kermit 47 to the Pecos 35. One play later, Pando went over the right side and broke four tackles on a 35-yard touchdown run that sealed the victory with 4:44 play.

Zubeldia would be picked off again on Pecos’ next series, as Steven Alvarado snared another pass meant for Morales at midfield. Chavez then ran for 29-yards before Grubbs was hit and fumbled, with Ernesto Jaramillo recovering at the 15. This time, the Eagles would go 85 yards in just over 90 seconds for their final touchdown, with Zubeldia hitting Morales for 26-yards, Rodriguez for 27 and Salgado for 20 before finding Martinez on a slant across the middle with 1:11 to play.

A high snap cost Pecos a chance to cut the margin to 14, and the Eagles were then unable to recover the onsides kick, allowing Kermit to run out the clock.

The Eagles will try again for their first win of the season on Friday night in Denver City against the Mustangs. Denver City opened with a 39-26 win over Lamesa, and then shut out Tulia this past Friday by a 59-0 score.

Fabens bounced back from their 53-20 opening loss to Kermit on Friday with a 27-6 win over El Paso High, while Clint improved to 2-0 with a 29-27 win over El Paso Cathedral. All the other District 4-3A teams joined Pecos at 0-2, with Fort Stockton losing to San Angelo Lake View, 42-29, Anthony falling at Van Horn, 12-7, and Tornillo dropping a 43-13 game to Marfa.

Eagles struggle before taming Lions

Not playing in the same district as the Monahans Loboes might make winning a district title easier this season for the Pecos Eagles volleyball team. But the Clint Lions showed on Saturday it’s not going to make it easy.

Playing against a team made up most of underclassmen, the Eagles struggled with the Lions in the District 4-3A opener for both teams and Pecos’ home opener for the 2008 season. Clint scored the first four points of the opening game, and while the Eagles rallied for a 25-18 win, the Lions evened the match with a 25-22 victory, and then took the early lead in Game 3 before Pecos finally got things going.

The Eagles went on a 12-1 run to close out Game 3, winning by a 25-13 score, and then after falling behind again at the start of Game 4, scored 14 of the final 16 points to wrap up the game and the match with a 25-11 victory.

“We were fortunate enough to come back and win the first game,” said Eagles’ coach Ruth McWilliams, who said her team had to iron out a few problems before they finally got things together and pulled out the win.

“The girls have some little inter-team things that go on, but they didn’t let it both them,” she said. “We kind of let down in the second game, but we came back in the third and fourth games.”

The game was the first district contest for the two teams since 2001, which also was the last time Pecos won a district title. For the past six seasons, the Eagles have been in the same district with Monahans, and saw the Loboes go undefeated in district play during that string while going to five state tournaments, and winning won state title.

Clint meanwhile, came into the game having gone unbeaten in District 1-3A the past two seasons, but with a team in 2008 that features only one senior. However, the Lions played Pecos even for the first 2 1/2 games, as freshman Jessica Alvarez and sophomore Madeline Cora opened up with four straight kills in Game 1 before a dink over the blockers by Leah McWilliams finally got the Eagles on the scoreboard.

McWilliams provided most of Pecos’ offense in the early going, but the Eagles would end up closing out the game with a 9-3 run that included four kills by Gabby Garcia and an ace serve from McWilliams.

A couple of unforced errors by Clint helped Pecos get that streak going, but in Game 2 the Eagles were the team giving up points on unforced errors. Along with kills by Alvarez, Cora and Liana Renter, they helped the Lions jump out to a 10-4 lead, and Pecos spent the rest of the game playing catch-up.

They would pull within three twice, only to fall behind later by a 22-15 score. They were able to hold off three game points by Clint, but a mix-up on a set led to another free point for the Lions and tied the match.

In Game 3, the Eagles would take the lead for good at 10-9 on a bad hit by Krista Arnold, but didn’t start their run until both Jasmine Rayos and McWilliams started connecting at the net. Both had three kills, while Claire Whinchat added one kill and Aileen Rayos had an ace serve to turn an 11-10 lead into a 12-point victory.

The score was 11-9 in Game 4 when Pecos started their run that clinched the match on a spike by Ally Solid off Renter. Then with McWilliams at setter, the Eagles closed things out with Rayos scoring off six kills, while Garcia added a kill and an ace serve.

“Jasmine struggled a little bit in the first and second game. But Leah and Gabby played well in those games and Allyson Salcido and Claire had some hits that helped,” the Eagles’ coach said. “Aileen was at cross country meet (in San Angelo) this morning, and she struggled a bit at the start at setter, but stepped it up and set real well the third and fourth games, and when she wasn’t going well, Tail Castillo came in for her and did a good job.”

The win got Pecos back over the .500 mark for the season at 12-11, while Clint fell to 12-8 with their loss. The Eagles also won Saturday’s junior varsity match, by 25-8, 25-12 scores, while the Lions’ freshmen defeated Pecos, 25-9, 25-16. All of the Eagles’ district matches against El Paso schools will be played on Saturday this season, with their own Tuesday matches against Fort Stockton in late September and late October. As a result, the Eagles will be back on the road this week. After traveling 2,700 miles to play their first 22 matches this season, they’ll make a 160-mile trip on Tuesday to Presidio to face the Blue Devils and Fort Davis Maidens at 4 and 5:30 p.m., then hit the road on Saturday for a 230-mile drive to Anthony for their first district road match, against the Wildcats.

Late TD helps Pecos sub-varsities sweep Kermit

The Pecos Eagles sub-varsity football teams got on the board earlier in their games Thursday night in Kermit against the Yellowjackets. But the Eagles’ JV needed a score in the final seconds to come up with their second victory of the season. The ninth graders evened their season record at 1-1 with a 20-12 win over Kermit, while the JV used a touchdown pass with six seconds remaining to beat the Jackets by a 22-16 final score.

Meanwhile, playing their season openers at home Saturday morning, Pecos’ seventh and eighth grade teams came away with a pair of shutouts over Kermit, with the seventh graders winning by a 34-0 margin and the eighth graders by a 26-0 final score.

Dominic Bejarano hit Arthur Navarette with a 19-yard pass for the winning score, after Kermit had rallied from a 14-0 deficit to take a 16-14 lead. Ramiro Pinales had the Eagles’ first two touchdowns, on runs for four- and two-yards, with the second set up by a 30-yard pass from Bejarano to Navarrete. Pinales also added a pair of two-point conversion runs in the victory.

The ninth graders got all three of their touchdowns in the first half of their victory. Israel Espudo scored from 40 yards out in the opening period, while Ben Dominguez had a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter, on a three-yard run and on a 34-yard pass reception from quarterback Chase Price. The Eagles’ other two points came on a conversion run by Price after Pecos’ second touchdown.

The seventh grade got most of their points through the air, while the eighth graders stayed on the ground to get three of their four scores.

Angel Chavez and Roderick Renteria hooked up for three TDs in the seventh graders’ win. Chavez had touchdown catches of 30 and 20 yards in the first half, as Pecos built a 20-0 lead, then had a 35-yard catch for a score in the final period. Cesar Ortega had the other two TDs for Pecos, on 4- and 3-yard runs, while Jacob Chavez had a two-point conversion run and Pony Palomino added two extra points for the seventh graders.

Devante Jenkins had all four of the eighth graders scores, and lost a fifth on a punt return due to an offsides call on a punt. Jenkins went 59 yards on Pecos’ first offensive play and then scored from 16 yards out in the second period. In the third quarter, he scored off a 77-yard pass play from quarterback Bradley Shaw, and then scored on a 47-yard TD run in the final period. The other points came on a two-point conversion pass from Shaw to Elijah Jones in the second period. All Pecos teams will be playing on Thursday this week. The JV and freshman will host Denver City, and athletic director Chris Henson said the Eagles have added a ninth grade ‘B’ game against Kermit, with the games now scheduled to start at 4 p.m. Pecos’ junior high teams will travel to Denver City while Henson said the Eagles will add ‘B’ games for the junior high squads against Marfa.

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