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Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bears eliminated by Mustangs in bi-district volleyball match

The Balmorhea Bears didn’t fare as well as the Pecos Eagles did on Tuesday night, in their bi-district playoff match at Van Horn High School, as the Bears saw their 2007 season ended by the Fort Hancock Mustangs.

Fort Hancock defeated Balmorhea in three games, winning by 25-18, 25-10, 25-18 scores. The Mustangs came in as the runner-up team out of District 1-A, while Balmorhea advanced to the playoffs as the third place team out of District 2-A this season.

“Overall I think the girls played the best they’ve played all season,” said Bears’ coach Mary Garcia. “I was very impressed with the way they played.”

Garcia said the Bears had faced the Mustangs once before this season, at the Sul Ross Tournament in Alpine, losing a best-of-three match by identical 25-17 scores.

The Bears went 2-4 in district play and ended up the 2007 season with a 15-22 record. Fort Hancock advanced to the area round against Sterling City with their victory.

“I’m losing five seniors, but I’ve got seven returning and a lot coming up, so we’re going to be competitive next year,” Garcia said.

Balmorhea’s district rival, Fort Davis, outlasted Fort Hancock’s district rival, Dell City, in the other bi-district game, 25-23, 15-25, 25-18, 23-25, 15-8. They’ll take on District 3-A champ Plains in their Region I-A quarterfinal match. District 2-A champion Marfa drew a first round bye and was scheduled to face District 3-A runner-up Wink on Thursday night in Pecos. The winner of that match will advance to the Region I-A Tournament in Lubbock against the Fort Hancock-Sterling City winner.

Eagles to compete at cross-country regionals

The Pecos Eagles varsity cross country teams will be in Lubbock on Saturday, to compete in the Region I-3A cross country meet at Mae Simmons Park.

The 3A races will take place around noontime, with the Eagles qualifying both their boys and girls teams for the first time. Pecos has sent their boys squad to regionals in the past along with individual girls, but coach Rudy Jurado said this was the first time the girls have been able to send a full squad to the 1-3A meet.

Pecos won both the boys and girls titles at the District 2-3A meet on Oct. 22 at the Ward County Golf Course in Monahans. Individually, the top finisher for the boys was Gus Mendoza, who placed second with an 18:39.44 time over the three-mile course, while the girls’ best finish was a third place by Kayla Natividad, with a 13:54.97 time for the two-mile course.

The girls had three other runners place in the Top 10 at district. Monique Rodriguez was fourth with a 14:08.22 time; Carissa Cerna was seventh, with a 14:23.50 time; and Aileen Rayos was ninth with a 14:36.44 time. Three other boys also joined Mendoza in the top 10, as Jesse Juarez was sixth, with a 19:30.06 time; Ray Gonzales was seventh, with a 19:34.31 time and Edward Rodriguez took eighth, with a 19:35.93 time.

The Top 10 individual finishers in each division will advance to the Class 3A cross-country state finals, scheduled for Nov. 10 at Old Settlers Park in Round Rock.

Canyon’s boys and girls cross country teams will be the favorites at the regional meet , while Fabens’ boys and Borger’s girls teams also are expected to compete for top honors at regionals.

Eagles get past Coyotes, face Mustangs Saturday

The Pecos Eagles didn’t look very much like a team planning to go very far in the Class 3A volleyball playoffs Tuesday night , in their bi-district match against the Tornillo Coyotes.

But coach Helen Kimbrough pointed out, they didn’t look much like a team going very far, either, after the bi-district round last season.

Pecos swept Tornillo in the first round for the second straight year, but struggled for two games on Tuesday at Van Horn before turning things around . They were able to maintain a small lead most of the way in Game 1 before winning by a 25-20 score, then had to rally from a 20-16 deficit in Game 2 before winning by a 25-21 score. That momentum carried over into Game 3, which the Eagles won 25-12, sending them into an area round match at 5 p.m. Saturday against District 3-3A champ Andrews at the Midland Lee High School gym.

“The same thing happened last year when I had that team,” said Kimbrough. “They were just nervous. “Every time in the first round we go out there thinking we’re have to no make mistakes. We finally started playing in the third game when we calmed down.”

Last year’s team followed up their win over Tornillo by defeating Sweetwater and Lamesa to advance to the Region I-3A Tournament for the first time ever. This time, they’ll take on Andrews, with the winner there facing the winner of Saturday’s Lamesa-Clint playoff match next week for the right to advance to the regional tournament in Lubbock. “This is just the second time this group has gone to the playoffs. They hadn’t gone for a while and this year we have three seniors, not seven,” Kimbrough said. “We’ve got some girls who were sophomores on last year’s team that a juniors now who were in supporting roles, but now the juniors are carrying the team, and they don’t want to mess up.” Pecos had problems with their hitting and their passing at times during the first two games. They took the lead for good in Game 1 off a dink over the front line by Cheyenne Carrasco, and would go up 10-5 off a couple of shots by Jasmine Rayos, some Tornillo errors and a block out of bounds of a Gabby Garcia spike by Jisse Reyes. Ally Salcido would add a couple of kills after that, but then some missed spikes and a rotation violation allowed the Coyotes to cut a six-point Eagle lead down to two, at 17-15.

Claire Weinacht, who lost a kill due to the rotation problem, ended the streak with a spike and Garcia followed with a kill as part of a 7-2 run that got the Eagles to game point. The Coyotes stayed alive on two bad kills and a bad relay before a Rayos spike finished things off.

Kimbrough made several line-up changes in Game 1 and made a number more in Game 2 as the Eagles struggled. Pecos’ only early points came from their three seniors, on a dink off a bad pass by Ashley Ornelas, and kills by Diana Parada and Carrasco, while Rayos and Garcia struggled. Rayos fared better on the back line, serving seven straight points , including one ace, to turn a 7-3 deficit into a 10-7 lead.

But the Coyotes then went on their own run to tie the game, and after the teams exchanged points for a while, went up 20-16 off a spike and a block by Maryann Valenzuela and two more bad hits by Pecos.

The Eagles finally got things going after that. Rayos had a kill and Valenzuela two straight spikes off Valenzuela before tying the game on an error by Reyes. She would have two bad kills after that, while a couple of bad hits by Priscilla Padilla and a kill by Rayos finished things off.

The Eagles would have a little trouble at the start of Game 3, going down by a 4-1 score, but never looked as tentative as in the first two games. A kill by Rayos would start a 13-2 run after that, with Pecos taking the lead for good on a spike by Salcido. The closest Tornillo would get after that would be at 16-10, but Weinacht would have a couple of spikes for points after that, and the Eagles would close out the match with a 9-2 run, ending it on a spike by Rayos.

“Diana did a good job coming in,” Kimbrough said of Parada, who has seen more action late in the season. “I think she does a better job when I bring her in off the bench.”

The Eagles improved their season record to 27-6, while the Coyotes, who were the third place finishers out of District 1-3A, finish with an 11-16 record. Aside from winning the game, Pecos also won their coin flip with Andrews for the site of their area round match. The Mustangs wanted to play on Saturday at Odessa Permian, where they faced Monahans in the area round last season, while the Eagles wanted Lee, where they defeated Lamesa in the Region I-3A quarterfinals last season.

Andrews comes in with a 23-11 record, 8-2 in District 3-3A, after winning playoff matches over Lamesa and Sweetwater for the 3-3A title last weekend. The Eagles and Mustangs have split two matches this season, with Pecos defeating Andrews at home by 27-25, 25-23, 18-25, 22-25, 16-14 scores in the finals of the Cantaloupe Classic Tournament, while the Mustangs beat the Eagles at home two weeks later, by 25-16, 25-17, 25-13 scores.

“We didn’t have Jasmine in that second game, and much as I don’t want it to make a difference, it did,” Kimbrough said. “I think having played them already is going to help us, and we’ve got four days to get ready, so I think we’ll be fine.”

The 5 p.m. starting time is to allow Ornelas and back-up setter Aileen Rayos time to make the 130-mile trip to Odessa from Lubbock, where they’ll run in the Region I-3A cross-country meet early Saturday afternoon. “I want them to run in that, and by 5 p.m. they should be rested enough to play,” Kimbrough said.

While the Eagles travel over to Midland on Saturday, Clint and Lamesa will be at the Pecos High School gym determining the other team in next Tuesday’s area round match. The Lions and Tors will meet for the second year in a row, starting at 3 p.m. at the PHS gym.

District 2-3A third place finisher Fort Stockton also won their bi-district match in three games on Tuesday night. Playing in Alpine, the Prowlers swept Fabens by 25-21, 25-15, 26-24 scores, and will take on Lubbock Cooper in their area round match, set for 6 p.m. on Saturday at Big Spring High School.

District 1-3A champion Monahans, which faced Andrews in the area round last year after a first round bye, will swap area round foes with Pecos and will face Sweetwater in their opening playoff match this season. The Loboes will take on that group of Mustangs on Saturday at 4 p.m., prior to the Fort Stockton-Lubbock Cooper match in Big Spring.

Stockton’s runners, defense to test Pecos

The passing attack was just an afterthought for the Pecos Eagles football team last week, when they finally picked up their first victory of the season. But chances are to get their second win of 2007, the pass will have to be a key factor Friday night, when the Eagles travel south to take on the Fort Stockton Panthers in a 7 p.m. start Pecos will be trying to keep their slim playoff hopes alive, while Fort Stockton, which clinched a playoff spot last Friday with their 21-14 win over Monahans, will be trying for their first outright district title since 1978 win a win over the Eagles in their final home game of the season.

The Eagles stayed on the ground for 57 of their 59 plays a week ago, rushing for 473 yards in a 41-8 homefield victory over Fabens. Hector Ramirez had 287 of those yards and scored five touchdowns, and has gained 855 yards this season, second among District 1-3A runners. But not only does Fort Stockton have the district’s top rusher in Francisco Jacquez, whose gained 1,397 yards and scored 20 touchdowns this year, the Panthers have also allowed only 835 yards on the ground in eight games this season.

“They’re going to stack the box against us, which means we’re going to have to be able to throw the football,” said Eagles’ coach Chris Henson, who will be trying to get Pecos its first win over Fort Stockton in seven years.

The Eagles kept the ball on the ground last week in part due to playing with junior Nathan Duke making his first varsity start at quarterback. He had come in at halftime the previous week in place of Paul Zubeldia, after he reaggravated a knee injury suffered against Denver City in September. But Henson said, “Paul will be back at full speed,” by Friday’s game.

Last year, the Panthers held the Eagles’ 2,000-yard rusher Luis Ortega to just 93 yards and went up 20-0 in the first half, before Pecos staged a second half comeback through the air, falling short by a 34-26 score. Zubeldia ended up throwing for 287 yards, with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions.

Pass defense problems did in Fort Stockton a year ago in season-ending losses to Clint and Andrews, but Henson said, “Their secondary is much improved,” and the Panthers have done a good job putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

“They have a great, fast line, led by (Rene) Corral. He’s the one we’re going to have to keep contained,” he said. “Their big thing on defense is they have nine seniors returning, so they have senior leadership out there that’s been tremendous for them.”

“I do feel like our offensive line in playing the best they’ve played all season right now,” said Henson. He added that Efrian Sosa would remain in the lineup at starting guard in place of the injured Travis Gomez.

Jacquez last week gained 163 yards against Monahans, while quarterback Sergio Corral ran for another 89 yards, while completing four of the six passes he threw, for 113 yards and two scores.

“They’ve got a great running back. He’s a lot like Cowboy (Ortega) last year in that one man can’t bring him down,” Henson said. “He breaks a lot of tackles and has got good vision, so we’re going to have to bring a lot of people to wrap him up.”

Corral ran and threw for scores against Pecos a year ago and ran for two touchdowns two years ago in the Eagles’ last trip to Fort Stockton. “He’s a great running threat. They set him up a lot with Jacquez running so well. They’ll run him into a hole to set up the quarterback running outside,” Henson said. “We’ve got to check the quarterback every play too make sure he doesn’t keep the ball.”

The Panthers don’t have the deep speed they’ve had the past two seasons at receiver, but Corral has spread the passes out, with Jacquez and split end Joe Granado catching 10 apiece and wide receiver Allan Mendez catching eight passes. Tight end Aaron Castro has only caught five passes, but is averaging 30 yards per catch and scored a touchdown in last week’s win over the Loboes.

Aside from Zubeldia’s injury, Pecos also was missing Timo Reyes from all but special teams work last week. Henson said Reye

s will be back, but will start on defense at cornerback, while Brian Mora, who ran for 84 yards and a touchdown last week, will remain in Reyes’ tailback spot on offense. “We’re going to have Timo at cornerback and give Chris (Sotelo) some rest,” Henson said. Sotelo played both ways last week, and ended up rushing for 112 yards in the win over Fabens.

Pecos’ slim playoff hopes require a four-way tie for third place and then a coin flip for the final playoff spot. To get there, the Eagles would need a win by Fabens at home over Clint on Friday, and wins by Clint and Monahans next week in their games against Fort Stockton at Anthony while Pecos beats Fort Stockton and then wins their season-ending game against Tornillo . Anthony can clinch a playoff spot with either a victory over Monahans or two more Fort Stockton wins and a loss this Friday by Fabens, while the Wildcats would make the playoffs if they win this week, while Pecos loses to Fort Stockton and Anthony drops their season-ending game at Monahans.

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