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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, October 10, 2008

Eagles, Panthers seek better results in district

If there’s one thing all the District 4-3A football coaches can agree on, it’s that they’re really happy to be starting the District 4-3A portion of their 2008 schedules.

That includes both the Pecos Eagles and the Fort Stockton Panthers, who’ll be meeting on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in Eagle Stadium in one of the three district openers for the six 4-3A teams, who combined have managed just five wins in their first 25 games this season.

The Eagles, who’ll be trying to advance to the playoffs for the first time since 2001, are winless following their 48-6 loss two weeks ago at Snyder, while Fort Stockton, which won its first outright district title last season, is 1-4 and come in off a 52-20 loss at home last Friday against Monahans.

The Panthers’ only win so far this season ironically is against the only team they lost to during their 9-2 season a year ago, Andrews. Fort Stockton was edged by Greenwood in a low-scoring game to open the season, while they’ve had the same defensive problems as Pecos in their other three losses, to San Angelo Lake View, Seminole and Monahans.

“We have struggled this season, no doubt about it,” said Panthers’ coach Tom Howard, who lost nine of his 11 defensive starters last season to graduation. “We’ve been in position to make the plays. We’re just not making them.

“We’d go in the first half against Monahans and pretty much shut them down at the goal line twice, then we get in the middle of the field and give up an 80-yard drive,” he added.

“Andrews hurt them a lot with the counters and Seminole ran some of the same plays they had with us (in the August scrimmage), “ Eagles’ coach Chris Henson said. “Monahans was just so much more physical, and (quarterback Quincy) Titus had his big plays.”

Things have been better on offense for the Panthers, who have maintained a big-play capability even without running back Francisco Jaquez for most of the past three games due to a shoulder injury suffered on Sept. 5 against Lake View.

“Jaquez got in the second half against Monahans, but mostly as a decoy,” Henson said. “The only time he ran the ball was on sweeps. He didn’t run up the middle, so they didn’t want him to get hurt. But I expect we’ll see a lot of him.”

Jaquez was the district’s offensive MVP last season and ran for over 2,000 yards in Fort Stockton’s 11 games. In the Panthers’ 49-13 win over Pecos last season, he ran for 217 yards and three touchdowns, most of that in a two-quarter span after Pecos lost its all-district linebacker Wayne Sparkman to a knee injury.

Henson said the Eagles are getting Sparkman’s brother Larry back from an injury this week, and did a fullback swap with the junior varsity, moving down Arturo Munoz and moving up Ramiro Pinales, mainly for defensive purposes.

“Ramiro we’re moving up to solidify our linebacking corps, and he’s had a solid showing at fullback for the JV,” Henson said. With under 500 yards on the ground so far this season, Jaquez probably won’t make it to the 2,000-yard mark, but quarterback Steven Hamilton and wide receiver Joe Daniel Granado have stepped things up in his absence. Hamilton’s thrown for 882 yards and 10 touchdowns, six of those to Granado, who has 20 catches overall for 536 yards and who last season had a 44-yard TD reception to open the scoring for the Panthers against the Eagles.

Howard said Hamilton, “Is not the big playmaker like Sergio (Corral) was, but he’s a lot calmer in the pocket and is good at making several looks.”

Henson said Pecos will also have to keep track of receiver D.J. Galvan on Friday, “but Granado is the one we’ve got to stop. We’ve got to make sure that Granado and Jaquez are not going to beat us, so we’re going to try and shut down their main weapons.”

Hamilton did have a 98-yard touchdown run on a quarterback sneak just before halftime last week against Monahans, while Henson said Jaquez’s replacement, Lorenzo Hays, “doesn’t have that blinding speed, but he’s done a good job.”

“He’s a little old sophomore, but he got about 200 yards in one game and 180 in another,” Howard said. “When he gets it, it’s for 12 yards, where Jaquez breaks it for a touchdown.”

Henson said Hamilton’s TD last week came behind center Cole Gossett. “He’s a big kid who plays both ways, but he’s best on offense. They like to run a lot of quarterback sneaks, so we’re going to have to be aware of that.”

“I’ve been very pleased with the way they’ve been playing,” Howard said. “I think if we get everybody healthy we can be a little bit better on offense than we were last year.”

The Eagles have lost seven straight games to Fort Stockton, dating back to the 2001 season, and while they’ll be a little bit healthier after a two week break, Henson said they’re still nursing a couple of injuries and also lost four players due to grades for the next four weeks, most of those on the offensive and defensive lines.

He said Michael Wein and Jake Varela would move into starting guard and tackle positions on offense, while Alonzo Villalobos and Aaron Thomas will see more time at the tackle spot on the defensive line.

Pecos did lose sophomore running back Isaiah Patino last week, when he broke his arm in the Eagles’ junior varsity loss to Wink’s varsity. Patino was playing in that game after missing the two previous varsity games due to injury. Henson said receivers Luis Morales and Jeremy Martinez are bothered by foot and groin injuries and quarterback Paul Zubeldia hurt his ankle during workouts on Monday, but is expected to start on Friday.

Meanwhile, Henson said running back Hector Ramirez would probably miss his fifth straight game after suffering a broke foot in Pecos’ season-opening loss to Alpine. Timo Reyes, who ran for 287 yards in Pecos’ losses to Monahans and Snyder, is again expected to start at fullback for the Eagles.

Overall, the Eagles lost 22 players on the varsity, JV and freshman teams to grades for at least the next four weeks, which is higher than most other area schools but still down from the average number of failures in recent years.

“The three years I’ve been here this is the best we’ve seen as far as grades,” Henson said. “We had 82 percent passing compared to the past, when we’ve had only 50-60 percent make grades.

“It took a lot of hard work by the coaches keeping after them and with the teachers, who did a great job with them, making sure they made it to study hall,” he added. “Things are definitely going in the right direction with our kids.”

Pecos netters down Midland Trinity

The Pecos Eagles tennis team didn’t get in their match last Saturday against Odessa High School, but did make the trip to Midland on Tuesday, where they came up with their third win of the fall season, 17-6 over the Trinity Chargers.

“Overall the kids went into their matches a little shaky, but they were able to come back and gain some confidence,” said Eagles’ coach Bernadette Ornelas. “In a lot of the matches they were able to come from behind to win.”

She said Trinity was shorthanded on the girls’ side, so most of the matches on Tuesday were in boys’ singles and doubles.

Geronimo Ornelas, P.J. Castillo, Elias Alvarado and Mateo Tarango came up with wins in both singles and doubles play for the boys, while on the girls’ side Megan Fuentes and Dakota Long won both their singles and doubles matches, with Pecos taking five of seven matches overall on the girls’ side and 12 of 17 on the boys’ side.

The win was the third in as many matches during the shortened fall season for Pecos. The Eagles have two matches left, against the other two teams they’ve beaten so far this season, when they go to Fort Stockton this coming Tuesday to take on the Panthers and close their fall schedule on Oct. 21 with a match against Reagan County in Monahans.

Pecos (17) at Midland Trinity (6)

Boys Singles

Derick Barron lost to Jitae Kim, 8-2; Geronimo Ornelas defeated Vijay Agisalo, 8-6; P.J. Castillo defeated David Hewitt, 8-6; Elias Alvarado defeated Jason Hilgameier, 8-1; Teg Lozano defeated Eddie Bello, 9-7; Eddie Pando defeated James Bissett, 7-6 (7-2); Avery Valeriano defeated Zee Buckingham, 7-6 (7-3); Juan Carlos Munoz defeated San Hart, 6-2; Allen Medina lost to Matthew Hood, 6-4; Mateo Tarango defeated Spencer Bergman, 6-0.

Girls Singles

Meagan Fuentez defeated Lily Kim, 8-4; Dakota Long defeated Addison Larson, 8-3; Janette Perea defeated Madeline Ross, 8-5; Andrea Rodriguez lost to Patricia Bello, 6-1.

Boys Doubles

Barron and Ornelas defeated Kim and Agisalo, 8-6; Castillo and Alvarado defeated Hewitt and Hilgameier, 8-3; Pando and Lozano lost to Bello and Bissett, 8-2; Valeriano and Munoz lost to Buckingham and Bergman, 9-8; Medina and Tarango defeated Hood and Buckingham, 8-2.

Girls Doubles

Fuentez and Long defeated Kim and Larson, 8-5; Perea and Sotelo lost to Ross and Bello, 8-3; J. Munoz and Maneje defeated Ross and Bello, 8-2.

Schedule mix-up helps Eagles avoid problem

Another schedule mix-up cost the Pecos Eagles’ volleyball team their match on Tuesday night against the Denver City Mustangs, though coach Ruth McWilliams really wasn’t unhappy to see this game go away.

The Eagles had been scheduled to play their final non-district match in Denver City on Tuesday, but found out the Mustangs’ schedule had them traveling to Lubbock to take on Lubbock Christian that night. While it meant the loss of a game against a tough non-district opponent, McWilliams said had Pecos played the game, it would have put them over the UIL limit for matches if they had played out the rest of their District 4-3A schedule.

“If we had played, we would have had to forfeit a district game,” said McWilliams, who’s had to juggle Pecos’ regular season schedule several times already this season since taking over as Eagles’ head coach, due to conflicts and lack of confirmations on the original schedule.

Pecos’ next game will be at home this coming Saturday against the Anthony Wildcats, and the Eagles can clinch a playoff spot for the third year in a row with a victory. Pecos is 6-0 in district and 23-12 on the season after their win last Saturday in Clint over the Lions, while Anthony is 0-6 in district play, following their 25-19, 15-25, 23-25, 25-22, 15-10 loss this past Saturday against Fort Stockton. The Eagles remain a game ahead of Fabens in the District 4-3A standings and two games up on third place Clint.

Play will start at 1 p.m. on Saturday with the freshman contest, followed by the JV match at 2 p.m. and the varsity around 3 p.m. at the Pecos High School gym.

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