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Weekly Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Mustangs to give Eagles tough first test

Staff Writer

The Pecos Eagles football team will get tested right off the bat to start competition in the 2004 season on Saturday, when they travel to Andrews to face the Mustangs in the first of two pre-season scrimmage games.

Pecos and Andrews will play their varsity scrimmage starting about 10 a.m. at the Mustang Bowl, after both the freshman and junior varsity teams hold their scrimmages at either end of the stadium beginning at 9 a.m. It will be the first of two scrimmages in six days for the Eagles, who will go to Coahoma a week from Thursday for a scrimmage against the Bulldogs.

Andrews may be the toughest team Pecos will face all season. The Mustangs come off winning the District 4-4A title last season and finished 10-1, and are expected to be back in the playoffs at the end of this season.

This is the first time the two varsity teams will have faced each other since 1997, when Andrews defeated Pecos by a 17-7 score at the Mustang Bowl. But the current Andrews team is far different on offense than the ground-oriented attack Eagle fans were used to seeing in past years.

Last year’s team went to the air for many of their touchdowns, and while Andrews has graduated quarterback Matt Gardner, Eagles’ coach Patrick Willis said, “Andrews is still running that 1-back offense. They’ve got most of their offensive line back and they’ve got their running back (Isaac McQueen) back who ran for over 1,000 yards and their big-time receiver (Cassidy Hamilton).”

The Eagles as a team managed just over 650 yards rushing for all of 2003, so improving the offense has been Willis’ main concern during the off-season. Pecos made a couple of changes with their returning players, moving senior Rashad Terry to an outside running back spot and putting Booker Fobbs in the fullback position, while Saul Pina returns at quarterback.

“I think without a doubt our skill kids have got big play potential if we execute,” said Willis, “We’ll have Eddie Vela at quarterback and receiver when he’s not there; Booker is pounding the ball, though he’s a little ticked up and Cowboy (sophomore running back Luis Ortega), just sees the holes out there. There’s no way to explain it, he’s just a natural.”

“We have a better feel for the offense this year. We’re going to throw the ball downfield and take our shots,” Willis said. However, how successful they are may depend on the Eagles’ blocking up front, which has been a problem for Pecos in each of the past two seasons.

“The offensive line is still a work in progress,” said Willis, who added that the team had its problems during Monday’s workouts.

“Sometimes I have to sit and slow myself down. We’ve got so many sophomores, and I know they have the athletic ability, but the mental game still has to come around,” he said. Three of the Eagles’ five scheduled starters on the offensive line Saturday, guards Albert Lopez and Chris Navarette and tackle Michael Lee, will be sophomores, and seven of Pecos’ 33 varsity players will be 10th graders.

Defensively, Willis said, “I think we’ll be a lot more advanced,” going into Saturday’s scrimmage. “I think the front seven will be the heart and soul of our defense.”

Chad Evans returns at one defensive end spot, where he earned first-team all-district honors last year. He’s the only two-way starter in the front seven for Pecos, but in the secondary Willis said Pina, Terry and wide receiver Simon Castillo would see action with the first unit on Saturday at the cornerback and safety spots, along with Josh Payan, who will handle the other safety position.

The varsity scrimmage will have the two first team units going 15 plays on offense and defense, followed by 15-play series with the second team squads. After that, depending on the length of the scrimmage the teams will come back for a final 10-play series. Aside from getting tested by the Mustangs, the Eagles will also get to test out Andrews’ artificial turf field, which was installed last season. Pecos currently is awaiting installation of their own artificial turf surface, but problems over the past few weeks with the dirt work that the field will be placed on top of has forced the Aug. 19 scrimmage against Coahoma to be moved out of Pecos.

The Eagle Stadium field is expected to be ready in time for the Sept. 3 home opener against Kermit. Pecos’ season opener will also be on synthetic turf, on Aug. 28 at Grande Communications Stadium against the Midland Christian Mustangs.

Games in Wink to start Eagles’ volleyball year

Afternoons were better than mornings for the Pecos Eagles last week, in their two pre-season scrimmages. Thursday and Friday, they’ll try to continue playing well in the afternoon when the games start counting, as they open their 2004 season with games in Wink, then play their home openers at the Pecos High School gym.

The Eagles will face the Wildcats and Fort Davis Maidens on Thursday in Wink, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Then on Friday, they’ll be at home to host the Alpine Bucks and Odessa High Bronchos, with those games scheduled for 1 and 3 p.m. starts.

Those teams were four of the six Pecos scrimmaged this past Friday and Saturday. They hosted Wink, Alpine and Fort Davis at the PHS gym on Friday, then traveled to Monahans, where they faced Odessa High on Saturday, along with their district rival, Monahans, and the Bronchos’ cross-town foe, Odessa Permian.

Coach Becky Granado said they played the two Odessa schools in the morning and had their problems, while doing better in the afternoon against the Loboes, though Monahans still came out on top in points during the 30-minute scrimmage.

“We were half asleep during the first two scrimmages. We played like we just got out of bed,” Granado said. Permian outscored Pecos 60-35 during their scrimmage, while OHS doubled up the Eagles, 56-28.

Following that, Pecos played Monahans, and the pre-district favorites came out on top in that scrimmage, by a 54-41 margin.

“When we played Monahans it was about 2 o’clock and they were a lot better,” Granado said. “We played a lot better against Monahans as far as defense. Offensively, we’re not as strong as I’d like us to be, but we did play good defense.

“We also had some problems with our serves and too many mental mistakes, and those are problems we’re going to have to iron out,” she said. “But overall when we played Monahans we came out with a lot of excitement and a lot of intensity. We just have to work on out fundamentals.”

The Eagles return several of their defensive players as well as two of their three main setters from a year ago, But seniors Danielle Garcia and Lily Valdez are the only returning hitters from a year ago, though sophomores Adriana Armendariz and Brittany Rodriguez did play as middle blockers last season.

“Right now, Brittany, Adriana and Olivia (Legarda) don’t go up there with the intentions of killing the ball. They just want to go up there and tap it, and you can’t do that,” Granado said following Friday’s scrimmages. “Amalie (Herrera) and Danielle did a good job passing the ball to the target, but that’s what you expect when you get a free ball.”

“Our setters did a good job, but they sometimes want to stand back and watch the pass instead of beating it up there,” Granado said. “As far as decisions they were making, during a long rally Jessica (Florez) did a good job going to the strong hitter.”

The season openers for Pecos are about five days ahead of the normal opening dates for the Eagles and other Texas volleyball teams than in recent years. They’ll have one more dual meet, next Tuesday in Odessa against the Bronchos and Sweetwater Mustangs, before traveling back to Monahans for the Sandhills Tournament on Aug. 19-20. In the past, the Sandhills has been played on the opening weekend of the volleyball season.

Swimmers already preparing for season opener

Swimming season is still nearly two months away for the Pecos Eagles, but swimmers joined football and volleyball players last week in beginning their preseason workouts for the 2004-05 year.

Coach Terri Morse said she had 18 boys and girls working out right now, in preparation for the Eagles’ season opener in Odessa on Oct. 2. Most of thee swimmers and most of the experience for Pecos this year will be on the girls’ side, as the boys will be hard pressed to match their best-ever team finish at this past February’s Class 4A state meet. “The boys are young and small, that is small in numbers, though usually we pick up a few,” Morse said. “I’ve got a lot of quality swimmers and divers out there, I just don’t have a lot of numbers.”

The boys graduated five members off last year’s team that placed fourth at state, while the girls lost just two members of their team that ended up in 21st place in Austin, and have five seniors on this year’s squad.

“Everybody who swam last year for us who didn’t graduate is back,” Morse said. “We picked up one freshman girl, two freshmen boys and we’ll have one new senior who’ll be diving for us.”

Overall, she said 11 of the Eagles’ 18 swimmers and divers currently are on the girls’ side. The boys will have a total of six swimmers, the minimum to field three relay teams and allow all six to swim in two individual events.

“I know we’ll be able to field at least two good relays. For the third relay we’ll see if we have the numbers to fill it up,” she said.

Of those returning for the boys, junior Matt Elliott qualified for state individually last season in the 100 yard butterfly and finished 13th, while sophomore Kyle Winkles placed 16th back in February in the finals of the 100-yard freestyle.

The girls return all four legs of their 200 medley relay team that placed 12th at state, along with the 200 freestyle relay team that wound up 14th and the 400 freestyle squad that finished 15th overall, and three of those swimmers also earned state berths in their individual events.

Catherine Minjarez was 14th in the finals of the 100-yard butterfly and 16th in the finals of the 200 individual medley; Teddie Salcido was 16th in both the 200 and 500 freestyle races; and Susan Moore was 15th in the finals of the 100-yard freestyle. All are seniors this season.

Morse said the District 3-4A alignment for Pecos this year is unchanged, and that, as with the boys, a number of other teams will be trying to replace their senior swimmers from a year ago. Pecos will host their own meet on Nov. 13, while the district championships this season are scheduled for Jan 28-29 at Abilene Wylie. It’s the first time the district meet has been in Abilene, though Morse said the site could change before the schedule is finalized.

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