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for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, October 8, 2004

Pecos, Lamesa seek new start in district opener

The Pecos Eagles and Lamesa Golden Tornadoes will have the same record, the same goal and a lot of the same players in key positions as a year ago, when the two teams open District 3-3A football play on Friday night in Lamesa, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Pecos and Lamesa both come into play with 1-4 season records, and both own their lone victory over the same team, Denver City. The Tornadoes opened their season with a 13-6 overtime victory at Denver City, while the Eagles won by a 31-13 score the following week at Monahans.

Both teams also appear to have improved offenses from a year ago, when the Eagles went into Lamesa and came away with a 19-12 victory. But they both still have the same problems they had on offense last year, which has left the Eagles and Tors with worse pre-district marks than they had last year.

For Lamesa, coach Carlon Branson said his team’s main problem has been “penalties. We lead the district in that, and we’ve made a habit of shooting ourselves in the foot.” Lamesa has been flagged 45 times this season, nine more than any other 3-3A team, and in last year’s game were hit with 12 penalties, including one that took away an interception return for a touchdown from linebacker Phillip Reyna. That allowed the Eagles to win despite gaining just 96 yards on offense in the game, and only one yard rushing on the night.

Midway through 2004, Pecos already has run for 50 percent more yards on the ground than they did in all of last season. But the Eagles will have to play at least the next two games without leading rusher Luis Ortega, which will put Booker Fobbs back in the starting position on offense for Friday. Fobbs ran for 152 yards in the season opener against Midland Christian but has struggled with fumble problems since then.

“He’ll start there, and we’ll have Adrian (Barreno) at defensive end and Adam (Ybarra),” said coach Patrick Willis, “Booker will play some defense, but he’s not going to start both ways.”

“Adrian’s been playing defensive tackle also, so it’s just a matter of rotating people in and out of there,” he added. “You get one guy down, and you have to shuffle a lot of other positions.”

Fobbs had a touchdown run in last year’s game, despite only three yards on five carries, as the Eagles struggled to open holes in the Tornadoes’ line. Pecos’ struggled again two weeks ago in their 42-0 loss to Sweetwater, but Lamesa has struggled to stop teams from running in recent weeks, including in their 47-22 loss two weeks ago against Littlefield, in their last game before district, allowing 335 yards in the defeat.

“The reality is we’re struggling on defense,” Branson said. “The offense has had its best two games the last two, but on defense we’re just doing a poor job tackling.”

Reyna has moved from a linebacker position to defensive end this season for Lamesa, while Willis said lineman John Wells has looked good in the videos they’ve watch of the Tors, and Branson said, “Adrian Chavez, our other defensive end, has done a good job.” “Everybody’s run the ball on their pretty decently, but you never know,” Willis said. “We think we’ve got a good game plan and think we can move the ball, but our main thing is holding onto it.”

Pecos has turned the ball over 24 times in their last four games, a problem the Eagles had as well last season, but were able to survive in their win over Lamesa, thanks to both the Tors’ penalty problems and their own four-turnover night.

Aside from Pecos’ problems on offense last season in Lamesa, the night also was one to forget for the Tors’ Bryan Brown, who came in at quarterback during the second half after playing wide receiver and struggled, ending up with a minus-9 rushing total on eight carries. Things have been a lot different in 2004 for the senior, who has run for 450 yards and five touchdowns, while throwing for another 278 yards and two TDs.

“That was really the first game that Bryan took any snaps, and after that he became our starting quarterback for the rest of the season,” Branson said. “Now he’s got a full season under his belt and he’s quite a bit different quarterback from last year.

“We’re basically a veer offense, and in a lot of systems he’d be used at running back. But for us he does a good job at quarterback within our system, and he passing game is coming around a little bit each week,” he added.

“He’s definitely the player we need to stop,” said Willis, though the Eagles will also have to worry about running back Joseph Hill, who almost broke a touchdown run in last years game, and with 61 yards on the night, was the only back on either team to have any success carrying the ball.

“He’s pretty fast, and we’re going to have to tackle him, and we’ll have to watch Jeremiah Guerra. He’s their favorite receiver,” Willis said. “They do a little bit of everything with their option offense, but they’re not going to make their living throwing the ball. They’re about 75 percent run and 25 percent pass.”

“Hill has really come into his own the last few weeks,” Branson said of the runner, who’s gained 249 yards so far this season. “He’s always had a good burst of speed, but last year we had a hard time blocking and he didn’t have many holes to run through. But our offense line is much improved from last year.”

This will be the first district meeting between the Eagles and Tornadoes since 1987, when Pecos picked up their seventh straight win over Lamesa. The Tors ended that string when the teams renewed their rivalry in 1992, and have been playing in non-district on and off for the past dozen years. Starting Lineups Pecos Lamesa Defense Offense DE (11) - Chad Evans 220 QB (16) - Bryan Brown 180 DT (54) - Jacob Marquez 225 RB (30) - Joseph Hill 185 DT (55) - Adrian Barreno 200 WB ( 12) - Kevin Furlow 140 DE (57) - Adam Ybarra 190 SE (88) - Charlie Anderson 140 LB (52) - Jonathan Carrasco 170 LT (69) - Stephen Perez 271 LB ( 7) - Eddie Vela 170 LG (79) - Erik Rodriguez 181 LB ( 1) - Tito Gonzales 175 C (75) - Clay Stovall 201 CB (22) - Rashad Terry 170 RG (76) - Nick Martinez 239 R (10) - Saul Pina 165 RT (60) - Albert Gonzales 286 S (16) - Josh Payan 170 FL (45) - Jeremiah Guerra 154 CB (21) - Simon Castillo 165 WR (11) - Martin Moreno 155 Offense Defense QB ( 9) - Miguel Estrada 150 DE (87) - Alex Chavez 192 RB (47) - Booker Fobbs 200 DT (67) - Samuel Sifuentes 183 SE (10) - Saul Pina 165 NG (77) - John Wells 228 WB (22) - Rashad Terry 170 DT (28) - Caycee Collier 174 LT (55) - Adrian Barreno 200 DE (46) - Phillip Reyna 224 LG (50) - Julio Orosco 240 LB (14) - Matt McCall 154 C (65) - Chance Fincher 190 LB (15) - Michael Longoria 178 RG (62) - Albert Lopez 230 LB ( 24) - R.J. Plaza 162 RT (77) - Michael Lee 220 CB ( 12) - Kevin Furlow 140 TE (11) - Chad Evans 220 FS (45) - Jeremiah Guerra 154 SE (21) - Simon Castillo 165 CB (11) - Martin Moreno 155 P/KO ( 7) - Eddie Vela 170 K (79) - Erik Rodriguez 181 K (55) - Adrian Barreno 200 P (14) - Matt McCall 154

Eagles’ “second half” effort fades at end as Prowers win

If volleyball games were divided up like football or basketball games, you could say the Pecos Eagles won the third quarter of their match Tuesday night against the Fort Stockton Prowlers.

Tuesday’s match actually did have something of a halftime, thanks to the first of two tornado warnings in the Pecos area that delayed play for half an hour, and the Eagles played better following the break than they had before it, though they weren’t able to come all the way back in the second game of their match against Fort Stockton. But they did rally for a third game win after suffering 25-17, 25-19 losses in the teams’ District 3-3A opener.

However, after forcing a fifth game with their 25-20 win, they fell apart in Game 4, allowing Fort Stockton to go from a 4-3 lead to an eventual 25-11 victory at the Pecos High School gym.

“We’ll play a real good game and then come back and look just flat,” said Eagles’ coach Becky Granado. “The girls we need to have step it up aren’t stepping it up, and we’re having to depend on our younger kids. That’s putting too much pressure on our sophomores.”

The Prowlers got contributions on offense from several hitters, including Tracey Jimenez, Alexsis Ramirez Errin Blanco and Krtisti Harral. Ramirez had a couple of kills during an 11-1 run in the opening game that gave Fort Stockton a 13-3 lead, though she would later struggle at the net. Meanwhile, the Eagles ran into their own struggles serving the ball in play after breaking the Prowlers’ serves, with seven bad serves in the first two games. “Our serves killed us and that is uncalled for. That is telling the other team ‘I don’t want the game’,” said Granado.

The break for the tornado warning came with Fort Stockton holding a 17-12 lead in Game 2. Pecos would cut the lead to three points a couple of times after that, before the Prowlers closed things out. Then in the third game a put down of a bad relay by Brittany Rodriguez followed by an ace serve by Tiffany Tarango put the Eagles up 6-5, and Pecos would eventually widen that margin to as much as nine points, at 21-12, before having to survive a late Fort Stockton comeback.

Rodriguez had a couple of kills and Danielle Garcia had a spike during that run, but the Eagles needed a hitting mistake by Ramirez after their lead had been cut to 21-18 to finally regain momentum.

That didn’t last into the fourth game. Pecos stayed close to Fort Stockton for a while, but never led, and it was a bad serve by Rodriguez that began an 11-0 run by the Prowlers that turned a 9-7 lead into a 20-7 advantage. Most of those points came on unforced errors, and by the end of the run Granado had removed several of her starters due to the Eagles’ sloppy play.

“I told them ‘you’re not going back in’ because they were just standing there,” said Granado, whose team will now hope to pull out their second win of the season in Presidio on Friday, when they take on the Blue Devils. 25-16, 25-15, 25-16 losers at Monahans on Tuesday night in their district opener. The game was has been up a day from its original Saturday afternoon time.

“We put ourselves in a hole,” Granado said, with only a six-game district schedule this season. “I told them this week is a crucial week, because I’m pretty sure both our teams will be 0-1, and after Saturday, we’ll either be 1-1 or 0-2 going into Monahans. If we start out 0-2 it’s going to be tough.”

The Eagles have won both their pre-district meetings against the Blue Devils, but both matches have been close, including a 25-13, 18-25, 25-23, 20-25, 15-13 win in Presidio last month. Friday’s match will follow the freshman and junior varsity matches, which will begin at 4 p.m.

The Eagles and Prowlers split Tuesday’s sub-varsity matches. Fort Stockton swept the Eagles’ ninth graders by 25-11, 25-14 scores, while Pecos’ JV won in three games over the Prowlers, 25-18, 16-25, 25-22.

Eagle runners set to make round trip

The Pecos Eagles’ cross-country team was a little short-handed this past Saturday, competing at the Iraan Invitational. This week, coach Rudy Jurado is hoping to have a few more runners entered at the Lamesa Invitational, though a couple may be running in the event after a short rest period, following a drive to Lamesa and back the night before. Jurado said Miguel Estrada was the only Eagle on the boys’ side to place in the Top 20 at Iraan, finishing 18th with a 17:40 time. “That time wasn’t really accurate, because their course was a little shorter than three miles, so it didn’t give us a good result,” he said. “The girls’ course was a little more accurate.”

However, Jurado said for last Saturday’s meet, he only had two girls running, in freshmen Kathryn and Heather Lamka . He said Heather had a 14:02 time on the two-mile run, while Kathryn ran the course in 14:48.

“I had a couple of girls missing because of grades and a few other runners who didn’t make it,” Jurado said. “I started out with 22 runners, but right now we’re down to about 14-15 runners.”

Jurado is hoping he’ll have a few more people available Saturday morning in Lamesa, though for Estrada and Luis Licon the race will come about 12 hours after they finish playing in Friday night’s football game at Lamesa.

“They’re going to come all the way back here and then go with us on Saturday morning, which is going to be rough,” he said, adding that Licon was one of the runners who didn’t make the trip to Iraan due to illness.

Saturday’s race will give the Eagles a chance to see Lamesa’s cross country team for the first time this year. Lamesa and Seminole are the two new teams in Pecos’ district, but the Eagles saw the Indians last month in a cross-country race at Big Spring. District 3-3A competition again will be at the Ward County Golf Course in Monahans, on Oct. 25.

Willis waiting to see film’s portrayal of coach

When Pecos Eagles’ head football coach Patrick Willis was playing for the Monahans Loboes in the mid-1980s, the Loboes had some exciting and important games under head coach Gary Gaines.

But odds are none of the Loboes expected to see their head coach portrayed in a major Hollywood movie 20 years later.

Willis and his Eagles will be opening up their District 3-3A football schedule on Friday night against the Lamesa Golden Tornadoes, at the same time the movie “Friday Night Lights” debuts in theaters across the United States. Billy Bob Thornton portrays Gaines, who was in his third season as head coach of the Odessa Permian Panthers when the team’s 1988 season was chronicled by Philadelphia Inquirer reporter H.G. Bissinger for a 1990 best-selling book.

“I hadn’t even thought about it, but I will go to see it,” Willis said of the film’s release this week. “It’s kind of personal to me because coach Gaines was my coach in high school.”

At the time of the book’s release, Bissinger said he had become aware of the Permian program in the early 1980s, due not only to their success on the field under then head coach (and current Ector County ISD athletic director) John Wilkins, but due to the 1982 construction of Ratliff Stadium, the 19,000-seat field that was one of the most impressive high school fields in the nation at the time it was built.

While Bissinger was first working to gain approval to follow the Permian team around, Gaines was beginning a three-year run as head coach at Monahans. The Loboes won the District 2-4A title in his first season, 1983, then finished second and lost in the Region I-4A finals to district rival Sweetwater the following season. Gaines left for Permian following the 1985 season, in which the Loboes missed out on the playoffs with a season-ending loss to San Angelo Lake View.

Gaines gave Bissinger approval to cover the team in 1988, when Permian advanced to the state semifinals after winning a three-way coin flip to make the playoffs. But when the book came out, the portrayal of both Permian and Odessa in general drew criticism in the community and from Gaines himself.

Willis said he still stays in contact with Gaines. “As a matter of fact, he talked to me last week. He e-mailed me and gave me some inspirational speeches he had used” as motivational tools for his teams.

“I know coach Gaines was unhappy with the book,” said Willis, while adding that one of the players off that team, running back Boobie Myles, said the film version is more positive towards the Panthers’ program.

“I see him all over Monahans and he said 75 percent of the movie is going to be accurate,” Willis said. Myles’ injury problems were a focal point of Bissinger’s story, and in the movie he will be played by Derek Luke, and Myles’ coping with his early-season injury will also be a key part of the film.

Presidio under probe by UIL for illegal players in baseball

An investigation is underway into allegations that illegal players were used by the Presidio High School baseball team during the 2004 season, according to a story in the Sept. 30 edition of The (Presidio) International.

The paper reported that the University Interscholastic League has ordered the investigation, which will be conducted by Presidio ISD Superintendent Dr. Doug Karr. He will investigate whether or not students living in Mexico attended school in Presidio and played on the baseball team during the most recent season.

Presidio defeated Pecos in the final regular season game to win the District 4-3A title. If the allegations are proven to be accurate, the UIL would strip the Blue Devils of the championship, which would then go to Pecos. Other sanctions could be imposed, according to Ed Stidham, UIL Compliance Director.

The International reported that Stidham indicated that the investigation stems from an incident at the Presidio Port of Entry crossing that occurred in August, though reports were circulating during the 2004 baseball season about the possible illegal use of players. The paper was unable to confirm the August incident with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, which is now part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and has filed a Freedom of Information request with the agency seeking any information about the incident.

Presidio finished 9-1 and Pecos 8-2 in the District 4-3A standings last year. The Eagles were beaten by new district rival Seminole in the bi-district round of the Class 3A playoffs, while the Blue Devils drew a first round bye, but lost to Perryton in the area round. Pecos, Presidio and Seminole will be members of District 3-3A for the 2005 baseball season.

Stidham said Kerr would conduct the investigation and report his findings to the district chairman for the 2004-05 school year, Monahans-Wickett-Pyote ISD Superintendent Keith Richardson.

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