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Thursday, August 31, 2000

Bears face Longhorns in season opener

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The 1999 football season wasn’t a good one for the Balmorhea Bears, but there’s at least one game last year the Bears hope goes the same way in 2000, and that’s their home match-up against the Buena Vista Longhorns.

The Bears kick off the 2000 season at home Friday night against Buena Vista, starting at 7:30 p.m. The Bears and Longhorns have been long-time district rivals, but last February’s realignment by the University Interscholastic League moved Buena Vista and Grandfalls into a new District 7-A six man, which includes teams from the Big Spring, Lamesa and Seagraves areas.

The Bears had been picked to win the District 8-A six man title a year ago, but struggled to a 5-4 record, 3-3 in district play. But their best game of the season may have been against the Longhorns, who they beat at home under the 45-point rule, by a 56-6 final score.

Billy Lozano ran for three touchdowns, Adriel Ramon had a touchdown and a fumle recovery in the one-sided victory. Both players are back for Balmorhea this season, as are Isiah Rodriguez, who had a long punt return to set up one score, and Arturo Rodriguez, whose passes set up two other Balmorhea touchdowns last year.

Buena Vista has half their starters back from last year’s 3-7 team, with the Duckett brothers, John and Josh, being the key players for the Bears to stop.

John Duckett finished with just under 1,000 yards rushing a year ago, and against Balmorhea got the Longhorns’ only score, a 70-yard run on Buena Vista’s first series of the night. Duckett is again expected to be the main offensive threat for the Longhorns, who are expected to battle Grady for the second playoff berth behind Grandfalls in District 7-A

Bears’ coach Ennis Erickson said his team “looked pretty good” against Dell City in scrimmage play, one of the three teams that finished ahead of the Bears in the District 8-A standings a year ago, though he wasn’t sure who his starters would be for Friday’s game. The Bears are picked second in their district this year, behind Sanderson, and are expected to battle with the Eagles and Dell City for the two available post-season berths.

Sub-varsity teams open play tonight

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The season starts in August for the first time ever for Pecos’ sub-varsity football teams, with four of the six teams staying at home to take on the Kermit Yellowjackets this evening.

Pecos’ freshman and junior varsity teams will be at Eagle Stadium to take on the Jackets, starting at 5:30 and 7 p.m., while Crockett’s eighth grade football team plays Kermit on their own field in `A’ and `B’ games, starting at 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Up in Kermit, Crockett’s seventh grade team will begin its season with a pair of games against the Jackets, also at 4 and 5:30 p.m. The Eagles’ varsity will be headed up to Kermit tomorrow, for their 2000 season opener at Walton Field, starting at 8 p.m.

For the junior high squads, it will be their first tests against another opponent since starting practice three weeks ago, while the freshman and JV teams got in scrimmage games along with the varsity back on Aug. 19. The ninth graders defeated Carlsbad in their scrimmage, 3-2, while the freshmen beat the Cavemen, 2-0, while dropping 2-0 and 3-1 decisions to the Loving and Jal, N.M. varsity squads.

The eighth graders’ games will be the first of seven home games this season on their eighth grade schedule, while the seventh graders will be playing most of their 2000 games on the road. Pecos’ JV will be at home for their first three games this year and have six out of 10 games overall at Eagles Stadium, while the ninth graders will be on the road for three straight games after tonight, then close out their season with five straight home games.

Eagles looking to increase offense for 2000 season

Staff Writer

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- There's no secret as to where the Pecos Eagles need to make  the greatest improvement going into the 2000 football season.


Pecos went through two scrimmages and 5½ quarters at the start of the 1999 season before getting their first points, and ended the year with back-to-back shutout losses.

This season, the Eagles already have improved on last year's record, though there were certainly a lot of things to work on after their 6-1 scrimmage loss to Carlsbad. But improved team speed should translate into more points for Pecos this time around.

The Eagles' defense held up well enough last year to post three regular season shutouts and earn the team its second trip to the playoffs. Pecos finished with a 3-2 record in District 2-4A and 5-6 overall after falling in bi-district to El Paso Ysleta.

Against Carlsbad, the defense had its problems, though coach Gary Grubbs said, "We just played a basic defense. We didn't know what Carlsbad was going to run, and there were a lot of things we could have done in the scrimmage that would have made a difference."

Carlsbad opened its regular season last Friday by blowing out Alamogordo, 35-0, so the Cavemen themselves may have had a lot to do with the Eagles' defensive troubles. Grubbs said Pecos has been looking more aggressive in practice the past two weeks than they did in their Aug. 19 scrimmage.

"They're ready to play and ready to hit somebody else. I think practice has gotten a little tedious for them," he said.

Pecos returns four first-team all-district players on defense, led by last year's 2-4A MVP Daniel Terrazas at weakside linebacker. Middle linebacker Omar Luna and strongside linebacker Trent Riley were also first-team selections, as was defensive tackle Gilbert Rodriguez.

The Eagles did lose one other second team all-district pick when safety Mason Abila opted not to play this season, but do return cornerback Richard Rodriguez, who missed t he second half of last season with an injury. Peter Juarez takes over the other cornerback spot for Pecos, while Alex Garcia will play free safety and Matthew Levario will be at strong safety for the Eagles.

Aside from Gilbert Rodriguez on the line, Jose Loa started part of last season at defensive end, while Cesar Coria will move over to the other end position, after spending last season on the offensive line and at tight end.

Garcia spend almost all of last season on offense at quarterback, though as of now, Grubbs said Richard Rodriguez would be the Eagles' starter.

"Richard's going to start, but Alex will probably play quite a bit, too," he said. Garcia threw for 564 yards last season, completing about a third of his attempts with four touchdowns and eight interceptions. Rodriguez completed exactly a third of his passes _ he was 1-for-3 in 1999, the completion a 75-yard pass against Alpine. In the scrimmage against Carlsbad, he hooked up with Jason Gonzales on a 71-yard touchdown.

Gonzales is listed as the starting split end this season, while Juarez, who is the Eagles' No. 3 quarterback, will start at wingback and Pifi Montoya will take Coria's place at tight end. Gonzales was on the varsity last year, but did not catch a pass, while Juarez played on the junior varsity and Montoya did not play football the past two seasons.

The backfield will be a little more experienced. Jason Carrillo saw late-season action on the varsity, running for about 90 yards in the Eagles' final three games. He'll start at tailback, while Luna will be Pecos' starting fullback.

"Those two will get the most action, but we've had four who've been working real hard," said Grubbs. Terrazas will back up Luna and Levario will be Carrillo's replacement.

Terrazas spent last season at tight end on offense. His five catches for 130 yards and a touchdown are the best among returning Pecos players. Coria had one catch a year ago, while Gonzales' back up, Ricky Plummer, had two late-season receptions in 1999, for 39 yards.

On the line, the Eagles are minus two starters from a year ago right now, in Chris Deishler and Micah Huffman, due to injuries. Going into Friday's opener, Loa will replace Deishler at center, while Sebero Jaquez will take Huffman's spot at right tackle.

At left tackle, Pecos gets back Joel Matta, a second team all-district selection a year ago. Riley returns as well, at the right guard position, while Tony Trujillo will take over at left guard for Pecos.

Terrazas will return as punter for the Eagles this season. He averaged 33.6 yards per kick in 1999, but improved on that number during district play and was named to the first-team 2-4A squad. Grubbs said Levario would handle the extra-point kicking this season, while Frankie Alvarez will do kickoffs for the Eagles.

The schedule will be a little kinder to the Eagles this season. Last year, they played their two scrimmages and their first three regular season games out of town, then had to make four trips after that to the El Paso area, including for the playoff game against Ysleta.

This time around, the Eagles will again open on the road, going to Kermit and Fort Stockton the first two weeks of the season, and will end their regular season at San Elizario for the second year in a row. But in-between, Pecos will get to play five out of seven games at Eagle Stadium and will have three of their five district games at home this fall, against Clint, Canutillo and El Paso Mountain View.

Young Bears look to rebound from sub-par season

Staff Writer

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The road to the playoffs may be a little easier for the Balmorhea  Bears in 2000, but most of the players taking the trip will be new to the  Bears' starting lineup, when regular season play gets underway against  Buena Vista on Friday.

The Longhorns and Grandfalls-Royalty Cowboys are still on the Bears' schedule _ Grandfalls and Balmorhea will play the last week of September, the same way they have the past four years _ but this time, those games will only by warm-ups for the start of District 8-A six-man play in October.

The game with Grandfalls, ranked No. 6 in the preseason six-man football poll, will complete a rough pre-district stretch for the Bears, including trips to No. 2-ranked Whitharral and Sands in September.

Balmorhea was a surprise state semifinalist in 1998, and then pulled out a miracle finish to beat Whitharral in the teams' season opener last September. But things went downhill after that, as the pre-district favorite suffered through a disappointing 1999 season, going 5-4 overall, and 3-3 in District 8-A six man play.

This time around, the Bears will not have to worry about Grandfalls _ the Cowboys have been moved along with Buena Vista into District 7-A six-man with Sands, Grady, Klondike and Loop. But the Bears will still have to face the other two teams they finished behind, Sanderson and Dell City, once their district games get underway in October.

Sanderson ended Grandfalls' run of three straight district titles a year ago, while Buena Vista defeated Balmorhea to finish third in the seven-team District 8-A standings. This year's 8-A lineup will also continue to feature Sierra Blanca and Marathon, though the playoff race is expected to come down to the Bears, Eagles and Cougars.

"It's still going to be one of those things where we're going to have to go out there and play well," said Bears' coach Ennis Erickson. "We're going to have to work to get things done without making mistakes."

Balmorhea has a couple of players back who saw action last season, though Erickson said his team only has two starters back on defense and none on offense. "As far as people who played a lot, we had three who played a lot of defense and three or four who played a lot on offense.

On offense, that includes running backs Billy Lozano, Adriel Roman and Isaiah Rodriguez. Lozano and Rodriguez saw the most action last season, with the latter two doing some passing as well as running for the Bears. Rodriguez had the game-winning TD and two-point conversion passes against Whitharral and two other TD throws against Sanderson, while Lozano had a pair of scoring passes against Grandfalls.

Roman did the most running of the three overall, and was on the receiving end of the game-winning points from Rodriguez against Whitharral and had a couple of long scoring receptions during the year versus Dell City and Marathon.

Rodriguez also started last season at linebacker, while the other returning starter for the Bears is lineman Rudy Guebara, who also had one touchdown reception from Lozano during the 1999 season.

Erickson the team looked "pretty good overall," in their opening scrimmage against Dell City. "There were not too many mistakes," though he said he still doesn't know who is season-opening starters will be.

"I'm still looking around right now," he said prior to the Bears' scrimmage against Lake Arthur. "In reality, whoever starts the first game, it may be the only game they start.

"I've got some ideas from practice and the scrimmage where they will all go, but there's nothing set in stone yet," Erickson said.

Lozano and Guebara are two of only three seniors on the 2000 Bears team. Overall, Erickson said the team's speed is about the same as last year, while adding, "There's not a whole lot size-wise. Really at truly, we're probably smaller than last year."

The Bears were almost exclusively a running team in 1998 when they went to the semifinals. They threw the ball more last year in games where they fell behind early, though for 2000, Erickson said," We're going to try to open it up a little more this year. We're going to look at doing a little more passing, though that doesn't mean we will," depending on the success of the running game.

Other returning players who saw some action a year ago include Jerry Mendoza, Liberty Wofford, Joe Luis Lopez, Logan Humphries and Chance Cook. Wofford is a center/defensive end, Cook was a lineman, Humphries and Lopez were ends and Mendoza played some at quarterback and safety.

The Bears' key dates in district appear to be their season-ending game at home versus Sanderson and their 8-A six-man opener at Dell City. The Bears lost to the Cougars last season, 42-18 and were beaten by Sanderson, 68-36, though in both cases, the key players that did Balmorhea in have graduated.

Sanderson will be looking to replace the pass-and-catch combination of Alex Escamilla and Roland Rodriguez, who hooked up for five TDs in their win over the Bears, while Dell City will be trying to replace running back Jonathan Barker, who scored five times and ran for nearly 300 yards in the Cougars' win over Balmorhea.

Sanderson does get back its other four starters both on offense and defense, including senior Chris Duarte at running back, quarterback Richard Montalavo, who ran for over 1,100 yards out of that position and earned all-district honors. On defense, all-district linebacker John Kelly and end Eduardo Salmon are among those returning.

Dell City gets back receiver Homer Slaughter and quarterback Mason Templeton from a year ago, while Marathon returns two-way starter Johnny Samudio and Sierra Blanca has its quarterback, T.J. Bustamante returning. However, both those teams will try to avoid the numbers problems that plagued them a year ago _ Marathon always has depth problems, as one of the smallest six-man schools in the state, while Sierra Blanca lost enough players to grades and injuries a year ago they had to forfeit their final few games, including their season-ending match-up against Balmorhea.

In wide-open district, `Cats have worst-to-first goal

Staff Writer

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The District 2-4A air show will live on this fall, even though its  main architects the past two seasons are gone. So is the key player on  last year's district championship team. 

Put that, and a lot of question marks surrounding all six teams, and you get a two-year-old district where a team that has never won a game has as good a chance as anyone to come out on top by the end of the 2000 season, which starts Friday for five of the six 2-4A schools.

Two teams _ Clint and Pecos _ have made the playoffs in both seasons since the district was formed in 1998, while two others _ Mountain View and Fabens _ have missed the playoffs both years. In fact, thanks to a forfeit in 1998, Fabens has yet to officially win a district game in 10 tries.

But with the district's leading rusher, the No. 3 passer and several other key players returning, the Wildcats could go from worst to first when the 2-4A schedule kicks off on Oct. 13.

Vincente Macias and Rigo Estrada combined for over 2,600 yards rushing and passing a year ago, while Fabens' defense was ranked No. 1 out of the six district schools. But the Wildcats were minus-7 in turnovers last season, and came up short in the closing minutes of their first four district games, failing to score in close losses to Pecos, San Elizario and Mountain View, while coming up short on defense in their loss to Clint.

Fabens will try to reverse those results in their new stadium this season, and will get a key early test four weeks from now, when they take on defending District 1-4A champion El Paso Parkland.

Shutouts were the norm for the winning team in most of Pecos' games a year ago. The Eagles won three of their five games by shutout, and were blanked in three of their six losses in 1999.

Improving the offense will be the main thing for the Eagles to do this season _ they averaged just 205 yards per game a year ago and 2.5 turnovers a game, but were bailed out by the defense, which surrendered just 223 yards and also had 2.5 takeaways per game. More team speed should help the Eagles' attack this fall, though injuries on the line did hurt Pecos in their scrimmage loss to Carlsbad.

San Elizario will be trying to cope with the loss of district MVP Mike Perez both at quarterback and in the defensive secondary, and will be counting on their defense to get them back into the playoffs. The Eagles won their first-ever district title and earned their first-ever post-season berth in 1999 behind Perez and a defense that allowed about 20 more yards per game than Pecos or Fabens, but surrendered just 135 points during the regular season.

El Paso Mountain View, in contrast, has been an offensive-minded team the past two years, getting their yards mainly through the air in 1999. In each of the past two seasons, the Lobos have been impressive during the pre-district portion of the schedule, only to falter and lose out on a playoff spot the final week of regular season play.

This time, Mountain View is given a slight nod as the favorites in the 2-4A race, due mainly to having the most returning starters back of any district team. The Lobos get all-district quarterback Arturo Muniz, all-district tight end/safety Abe Mendoza and most of their other starters back from a year ago, and will try and maintain their offensive numbers while improving on their defensive results for each of the past two years.

Canutillo also will be trying to shore up a defense that allowed over 310 yards and 25 points per game last season. The Golden Eagles struggled to a 2-8 mark in 1999, but did get both their wins in district play and will have the biggest front line in 2-4A to work with on both offense and defense. A tough pre-district schedule should give some of the team's new faces on offense a good early test.

Clint will have more new faces than anyone, after losing all but three of their 22 starters and their head coach during the off-season. The Lions will try and run the ball more out of an I-back set this season under new coach Lloyd Smith, who moves over from his previous job as Mountain View's offensive coordinator. The Lions will get an extra week of pre-season workouts to find their starters, and quarterback Tony Alvarado will try to get more comfortable in a role he filled only in an emergency situation against El Paso Burges last season.

Returning starters help put Lobos in favorites' role

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The El Paso Mountain View Loboes have been literally one  step removed from the playoffs each of the past two seasons. 

Both times, Mountain View needed a season-ending win over Clint to advance to post-season play, and both times the Lions were able to pull out the win in a high-scoring battle and end the Lobos' season.

This year, Mountain View finds itself in the favorites' role in District 2-4A, as coach Mike Jackson has most of his starters on offense and defense back from last year's team that went 2-3 in district and 5-4 overall, including a pre-district victory over 1-4A champ El Paso Parkland.

"We've got our whole offensive line, our quarterback (Arturo Muniz) and two of our running backs back," said Jackson, in his second year as the Lobos' coach. "We lost our main receiver (Albert Jarruieta) and one running back (Ricky Lopez)."

Jarruieta and Lopez were both big parts of Mountain View's attack. Jarruieta caught 45 passes for 767 yards and 12 touchdowns last season, while Lopez ran for 581 yards and seven TDs. But Jackson said Lopez' replacement Jose Garcia, saw some action last year, gaining 181 yards on 33 carries. "He's one of those hard-nosed kids who will run over you," said Jackson.

Muniz moved from wide receiver to quarterback a year ago and threw for 1,847 yards and 20 touchdowns, with 14 interceptions in 246 attempts. He also ran for another 127 yards and earned second team all-district honors.

"I lost my offensive coordinator, coach (Lloyd) Smith," said Jackson. "He took the head coaching job at Clint, so with a new coordinator Muniz has a little adjusting to do. We're going to try a few new things he'll have to get used to."

His top returning receivers will be split end Isaac Andizola and Ebert Munoz, who was the Lobos' `A' back last season. "I feel like he'll probably see a little more action this year getting the ball," said Jackson.

Munoz had 11 carries for 46 yards in 1999 and caught 29 passes for 348 yards and four touchdowns. Andizola had 21 receptions for 424 yards and two TDs a year ago and was a second team all-district pick.

Tight end Abe Mendoza didn't have as many catches, snaring seven passes for 52 yards. But the junior still was a second team 2-4A pick at his position and earned the same honor on defense, at free safety.

He's also scheduled to be the Lobos' lone two-way starter this season and is one of three all-district picks up front on offense for Mountain View. Gladys Rodriguez was a first-teamer a year ago, while Jesus Hurtado was a second team pick as a sophomore. Ramon Morales and Alex Gandera are the Lobos' other returning starters.

Defensively, Mountain View was the only 2-4A squad not to have a first-team all-district selection last season, as they allowed opponents nearly 300 yards per game. But along with Mendoza, they do have two other second team selections back this season, in defensive end Zeek Machuca and linebacker Carlos Gonzales.

Pedro Estrada is being looked at as the other starting end, while Aaron Garcia, Rudy Mejia and either Albert Armalie or Cesar Gonzales will fill the three other spots in the secondary with Mendoza. "Garcia is a good athlete. He played basketball last year, but he's still got a lot of learning to do," said Jackson.

The Lobos' coach said Mountain View did have their problems scrimmaging El Paso Del Valle, which is rated the top Class 5A team in the El Paso area this season, and in regular season match-ups against the tougher teams, or if injuries hit, the Lobos may have to rely on more two-way starters than just Mendoza.

"We need to cross train a lot of people just for those cases. If we don't have a backup or two we'll be in trouble," he said.

On special teams, first team 2-4A kicker Jesus Villanueva returns He had 18 extra points and four field goals in 1999, though Jackson would like to see the senior improve on his 33.7 yard punting average.

Mountain View's pre-district schedule will again be among the tougher ones for any 2-4A team. Aside from a rematch with Parkland, whose only regular season loss in 1999 was to the Lobos, they'll also face El Paso Ysleta and El Paso Burges, who are supposed to battle with El Paso Riverside for the two other playoff berths behind Parkland in District 1-4A.

Fabens seeks to avenge 1999's narrow 2-4A losses

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- Motivation shouldn't be a problem with the Fabens Wildcats this season, not after the way their District 2-4A games went a year ago.

The Wildcats could have just as easily been the district co-champions in 1999 as they were the eventual cellar-dwellers, finishing with an 0-5 record. Fabens opened district with a 6-0 loss in overtime to Pecos and saw Clint rally to win in the final two minutes of their next game, 48-42.

And then things got even more frustrating, coach Ronnie Hernandez said.

"Against Mountain View, we got the ball down to the two yard line where we were tackled. He was down by contact, but they ruled it a fumble and Mountain View picked it up and that was it," Hernandez said of what turned out to be a 36-33 loss. The following week, it was a missed extra point that cost the Wildcats in a 14-13 loss to eventual 2-4A champion San Elizario.

The Wildcats did let down in the last game, losing to Canutillo to end up fifth in the standings, but it's those first four games the players will have in their minds when district play starts in October.

"Let me tell you, they remember that. They could have quit a couple of times but they kept playing hard," said Hernandez, who has most of his key players back from 1999's team, which finished with a 3-7 record.

"We've got about eight coming back on offense and six on defense," the Wildcats' coach said, with the group on offense led by junior running back Vincente Macias and quarterback Rigo Estrada.

Macias played only nine games last season but led the district in rushing with 1,568 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning first-team all-district honors. Estrada, meanwhile, was third among 2-4A passers with 1,088 yards as a junior a year ago.

"We also have (wingback) Beto Nunez back, and I think we'll be a little more solid at fullback with Eric Palacio back," Hernandez said. "The kid can run. He has good speed and looked pretty decent so far."

He said Macias "is the best back in our district, bar none. He finished barely behind a kid from Montwood (among all El Paso running backs) by about 60 yards, and that's because I sat him down for one game last year because he didn't want to come to practice.

"He's a lot stronger this year. He bench presses about 290 pounds, and I think if he gets out in the open he's going to be able to run away from some people," Hernandez said.

He added that Estrada is also stronger this season, and will have a better idea what he's looking at in his second full year as a starter. Estrada had only eight touchdown passes with 13 interceptions last season, despite throwing for nearly 1,100 yards.

"After starting 10 games at quarterback he's able to read the defense better in the secondary. Last year he'd pick on one receiver and then throw it. This year he should be able to look off the receivers better," said Hernandez.

Estrada will be looking at a young receivers corps in 2000, but the Wildcats will move their 6-4 tight end from a year ago, Alonzo Favela, out to the wide receiver position to help things out.

Up front, Fabens has two all-district starters back, in tackle Josh Rosas and center Ray Garcia. "All our linemen are back except for one," said Hernandez, and with Rosas at 6-4 and 290 pounds and Garcia at 5-11, 250, Fabens will have a sizable front five for Estrada and Macias.

Defensively, Fabens led the district in fewest yards allowed last season, at 220 per game, but did lose all three of their first team all-district players to graduation. They get back Rosas, a second-teamer at defensive tackle, and at linebacker, Hernandez said he has linebackers Juan Trevizo, Javier Pedilla and Bernie Fernandez back, though from his outside linebacker spot, "he's really a defensive end," the Wildcats' coach said.

"Right now we're missing a lot of tackles We're over-pursuing and don't have enough kids going to the football, but that's going to get better," said Hernandez, who figures to have some of his offensive backfield starters doing double-duty in the defensive secondary, which was hardest hit by graduation.

Fabens also will be looking at a new punter and kicker for 2000. Hernandez said Macias and Moses Escovar would handle the kicking duties, while John Ontiveros "punts it real well," the Wildcats' coach said.

San Eli counting on defense to remain atop district

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The 1999 football season for the San Elizario Eagles was about like the 1995 season in for Northwestern University.

Long the doormat of the Big 10, Northwestern made it all the way to the Rose Bowl that year, but then started slipping back towards the bottom over the next few seasons.

San Elizario had long been the football equivalent of Northwestern in El Paso-area football. Three years ago, the Eagles could barely eek out a victory over an eventual 0-10 Presidio team, but last fall, they used a strong defense and the running and passing of quarterback Mike Perez to capture their first-ever district football title, going 5-0 in 2-4A play and then throwing a scare into El Paso Riverside in the playoffs, before losing by a 33-28 final score.

This year, Coach Joe M. Carrillo will be looking to avoid Northwestern's fate by keeping the Eagles up at the top of the standings while finding a new quarterback to replace Perez, the district MVP on offense in 1999.

"We're looking good overall. The one area we have to decide it who is going to be the quarterback for us," he said. Last year's 8-3 team has helped as far as players to work with is concerned.

"We have a lot more numbers, and the excitement is high right now, though we've never had to defend a district title before," Carrillo said.

San Eli scrimmaged El Paso Ysleta to a 0-0 tie two weeks ago, so the defense, which allowed just 135 points during regular season play, looks strong again in 2000. The Eagles also get back running backs Mike Tapia and Andy Arellano, who were the second- and third-leading rushers behind Perez last year.

Tapia was fifth among 2-4A rushers overall with 660 yards and four touchdowns, while Arrellano ran for 388 yards and three scores. "We're going to try and play a lot of kids there, because they both went both ways last year," Carrillo said, both in the defensive secondary, with Tapia earning first team all-district honors both on offense and defense.

Also starting both ways was tight end and defensive end was Albert Jacobo. He earned first-team honors on the defensive side as a junior, and also caught 15 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns on the offensive side to earn a second-team selection.

"Mike, Andy and Albert are the three that we've got to get the ball to," said Carrillo, and at quarterback, he is looking at a trio of underclassmen to take over for Perez.

Bo Solis got in for a few plays last season, and is competing against James O'Neal, the team's fastest player, and Brian Rollagalles.

"Right now they're even. One does one series good, and the other will look good on another series. I probably won't be able to tell until the first game," who the starter will be, Carrillo said. "They all run pretty good, but the deep ball is a problem. We won't be able to throw it down the field as much."

Whoever does throw it will be looking for Jacobo and wide receiver Gilbert Acosta, who caught 12 passes for 148 yards and a touchdown last year. Tapia and Arrellano also had three catches apiece for the Eagles in 1999.

On the line, San Eli gets back second-team all-district center Sergio Jasso, and will also get back tackle Danny Martinez, who missed four games last season due to injury. At guard, San Elizario has Robert Quinones returning from a year ago.

Defensively, Carrillo was happy with his team's scrimmage effort against Ysleta. "They were pretty much the same as against Pecos last year. They just lined up and tried to cram the ball down our throats, but they couldn't do it," he said. "We've always started a 4-3 since before I got here and we've never touched it, and my defensive coaches do a great job."

Aside from Tapia and Jacobo, Jasso was a first-teamer at defensive tackle last season and the Eagles also return linebacker Santiago Elizalole. Martinez will also see action on the line, though Carrillo said he'd try and get all those two-way players as much rest as possible.

"We're going to try and go with an eight-man rotation with our front six," he said. "Jacobo, Martinez and Jasso may start, but they're not going to be in there for more than three plays at a time."

Perez' spot at punter is still open as of now _ "I had a good one, but he quit, so right now that's in influx," Carrillo said _ while Solis is going to take Mike Gasca's place as the Eagles' starting kicker.

How 2000 looks for San Elizario shouldn't take long to find out _ they open on Sept. 1 by taking a trip to El Paso Parkland to face the District 1-4A favorite.

"That should tell us what we're made of, good or bad," Carrillo said. "We're going to try and run at them and see what they're made of. If they don't want to take it, fine, but we're going to try and do what Hereford did to them (in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs) instead of trying to go to the outside as much."

Golden Eagles add size, speed for 2000

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- In 1998, the Canutillo Golden Eagles were able to recover from a slow start in pre-district play to share the District 2-4A title with the Pecos Eagles.

Last season, Canutillo again started slowly, going winless during their pre-district schedule. But this time, the Golden Eagles couldn't turn it around when 2-4A play began and wound up fourth in the district standings.

Late-season injuries didn't help things, but coach Scott Brooks said this year's numbers are up for the Golden Eagles and they will be hoping that and some new faces in key positions will produce a return to post-season play.

Canutillo ended the season with Mark Dominguez starting at quarterback, but Brooks said going into the 2000 season, his backup, Julian Lopez, will be in the starting job. "He throws the ball real well. He's about 6-0½ and 170 pounds, and runs about a 4.6 40 (yards), so he's a pretty good athlete," the Golden Eagles' coach said.

Lopez was an all-district outfielder in baseball and spent most of last season on the junior varsity, though he did see late season action against Pecos and Fabens at quarterback.

At running back, Canutillo will be switching a defensive tackle from a year ago, Jesse Silvas, into the starting fullback spot. "He's about 6-1 and 230, but he's got good speed," said Brooks, who added Silvas would also play some at defensive end for the Golden Eagles, where he started a year ago.

Canutillo gets back its No. 3 rusher from a year ago, halfback Noel Rios, who ran for 464 yards and three touchdowns last season, and Brooks said Fermin Cazares would also see some action at running back and receiver.

Tackle Joseph Medina is the team's lone returning all-district play on offense, but he may see more action in 2000 on defense, at the tackle position.

"Angel Ulloa started at guard last year, but got hurt and missed the last five games of the season," Brooks said. Ulloa is coming back off a knee injury, and "is looking real good right now," as is 230-pound junior guard Arthur Hernandez.

Canutillo will average over 225 pounds across the line this season, including 252-pound tight end Eddie Hita, who had two catches for 27 yards last season. Alfredo Garcia will be the Golden Eagles' center.

Aside from Hita, wide receiver Octavio Ramirez is the other receiver back for Canutillo from a year ago, when he caught two passes for 79 yards, both for touchdowns.

On defense, Hita will join Silvas at the defensive end spot for the Golden Eagles. "We got him from basketball and he's turned into a really good defensive end," said Brooks.

Tackle Rocky Melendez was a second-team all-district selection as a junior last year, while linebacker Jesse Ramirez was a first team pick in 1999. "We've also got Chris Fernandez back at corner," where he was an honorable mention pick last year, Brooks said.

Joining Ramirez will be Jacob Gaytan and Hector Saldivar at linebacker, while Brooks is also looking at Joey Paz, a senior who did not play last season.

Aside from Fernandez in the secondary, Brooks said Dominguez would be one of the starters. "He'll also play some at wide receiver. He's too good an athlete to keep off the field."

Dominguez will also handle the punting for the Golden Eagles, where he averaged 33.6 yards per kick last season, while Hita will take over as Canutillo's kicker.

Brooks said Canutillo did well against Cobre, N.M. in their scrimmage, but would get a better test versus El Paso Del Valle, which is ranked No. 1 among the Class 5A schools in the El Paso area this year. More tests should come in pre-district, when the Golden Eagles will face El Paso High, El Paso Burges and El Paso Bowie out of District 1-4A and El Paso Austin out of District 1-5A.

New coach, lots of new faces in Lions' lineup

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- You can't say Lloyd Smith didn't know what he was getting into.

The new Clint Lions' coach came to his new job from within the Clint Independent School District, moving over from offensive co-coordinator at Mountain View High School to replace Bill Culpepper. And the offense he'll be bringing with him to Clint isn't much different from what the Lions have been running for the past several years.

But there will be a big difference in personnel, not only for Lloyd but also for the Lions themselves, as no team in District 2-4A was hit more by graduation than Clint going into the 2000 season.

The Lions averaged 386 yards per game on offense while earning their second straight trip to the playoffs as the runner-up team behind San Elizario last season. This year though, Lloyd will have only one of his 11 starters back on offense and just two returning on defense, meaning Clint will have a lot of new faces on the field when they play their season opener against Anthony.

"We've got lots of youth and lots of inexperience, but they're doing real well," said Smith, an All-American safety with the University of Oklahoma in the 1980s. "I'm pleased after our first scrimmage against Santa Teresa."

One thing Smith will have a little extra time to do is evaluate his personnel. Clint is the only District 2-4A team not opening its season on the `zero week' this year, meaning the Lions will be scrimmaging El Paso Jefferson today, while the other five schools are playing their regular season openers on Friday.

"I think not opening up now will be beneficial to us. We've been working out three weeks, and I'm pleased with the progress on both offense and defense, and we'll get another chance to look at them Thursday," he said.

Smith served for two years as Mountain View's offensive co-coordinator, under Howard Wells and then Mike Jackson. He said this season, "We'll do the same thing we did at Mountain View. We ran the I-back a lot and we'll look to be balanced running and throwing the ball."

Clint mostly used a two-back offense a year ago, Lloyd said, but they ended up running an I-back some last season, after running back D.J. Shepard quit the team four games into the season. Jeremy Arnold ended up carrying the ball more in the latter part of the season — gaining over 200 yards against Pecos _ but overall the Lions still threw for nearly twice as many yards as they ran for a year ago.

D.J. Check had all but 16 of Clint's 2,564 yards passing in 1999. His backup, Tony Alvarado, saw significant action only when Check hurt his knee in a pre-district game against El Paso Burges. It wasn't a good situation for the freshman to be in but this year as a sophomore, Alvarado will take over the No. 1 spot.

"He's got pretty good arm strength. He played catcher last year for the varsity baseball team," Smith said.

The Lions had hoped Shepard, a senior, might return to the team this year, but as of now that hasn't happened and Manny Estrada will be the team's No. 1 runner. He played on the junior varsity last year. At receiver, Domingo Lozano and Kenyon Mullis also are new starters. Mullis, a junior, also was a JV player last year while Lozano, a senior, caught two passes for 11 yards.

On the line, Lloyd said he's still looking for a tight end to replace Patrick Tullius and all of his starters from a year ago. Lineman George Munoz did make the second team, but he'll be used more on defense this time around.

"Our entire offensive line will be underclassmen," Lloyd said, which includes a trio of Adrians _ Chavez at center and Soto and Marin at the guards _ and Fernie Rodriguez and Frank Varela at tackle.

On the other side of the ball, Lloyd said Clint would run the `46' defense and will try to improve on last year's numbers, when they surrendered over 350 yards per game.

"I think we've got some quickness, but that's about it. Overall our team speed is lacking, but hopefully we'll make up for it with our quickness," the Lions' coach said. "The kids did a pretty good job (against Santa Teresa). I was pleased with their aggressiveness and their willingness to come up and hit somebody."

Lineman Danny Villanueva and linebacker Carlos Murillo are the only two returning starters from last season. Lloyd said, like his search for a tight end, he'd wait until after the El Paso Jefferson scrimmage before deciding on his defensive starters for this season.

By opting not to play the zero week, Clint will be the only 2-4A team to play 10 straight weeks during the regular season. They'll open their district schedule on Oct. 13 in Pecos, a week after hosting Burges, one of three District 1-4A schools the Lions will face in pre-district.

"After Anthony we open at home with Bowie and then we go to (El Paso) Cathedral and El Paso High, so we'll get a good test before district starts," Lloyd said.

Eagles look to tame Lions' hitters, claim volleyball title

PECOS,  Aug. 31, 2000 -- The Clint Lions outgunned the Pecos Eagles in 1999, and that figures to be the Lions' goal again this season in the District 2-4A volleyball race, which looks to be a two-team battle for the top spot, while the other four teams compete for the third and final post-season playoff berth.

Pecos had the district's outstanding hitter in 1999, as selected by the 2-4A coaches, in junior Philly Fobbs. But Clint had far more good hitters than the Eagles last season, and led by the district's Most Valuable Player, Polly Wager, went undefeated in capturing the 2-4A title.

This year, both Wagner and Daisy Nieto, voted the district's top setter last season, have graduated, while the Eagles return Fobbs and all their other hitters from a year ago. But in terms of power, the Lions may still have the overall advantage in front-line hitters, though nowhere near as much as in 1999.

Aside from Fobbs, Pecos has back its No. 2 and 3 hitters from a year ago, in outside hitters Ashley Salcido and Alex Marquez, along with their other middle hitter, D'Andra Ortega, and outside hitters Kalyn Lara and Dee Dee Molinar. Fobbs earned top hitter honors in each of Pecos' first two tournaments this season, and she and Salcido were first-team all-district selections a year ago, while Ortega and Marquez have been more effective in their hitting through the first 2½ weeks of play.

Molinar has been doing more setting than hitting this year. After splitting time with Amy Chabarria in 1999 she was supposed to share duties with Jessica Rodriguez this season, but has handled that job alone for the past week, after Rodriguez' nose was broken during a game against El Paso Riverside.

On defense, the Eagles have also done a better job picking up spikes on the back line, something they struggled with all of last season. Becky Dominguez earned outstanding defensive player honors in both the Sandhills and the Cantaloupe Classic Tournaments.

Pecos defeated Clint in three games at the Sandhills Tournament, but that may not mean much _ they swept the Lions in Monahans last year and then were swept twice by Clint in District 2-4A play.

Clint returns their No. 2 hitter from last season, in Collane Bramblett, along with hitter Michelle Tullius who is the No. 2 spiker this season. Outside hitter Marissa Arnold is also back for the Lions, who are looking at Tullius' sister, Jenny, and Janeth Sanchez to take over Nieto's role as setter.

If any team can come up and surprise Clint or Pecos, it would figure to be El Paso Mountain View. After a slow start last season and a three-win year in 1998, the Lobos almost made the playoffs, losing out to San Elizario for third place. They get back their top hitter, Diana Cineseros and their top setter, Diana Gonzales, who were second- and first-team all-district picks respectively last season. Laura Torres and Marlee Garcia were also honorable mention picks for Mountain View, as freshman and sophomore starters in 1999.

San Elizario, meanwhile, gets back second-team all-district hitter Fran Martinez, but lost four of their five other starters to graduation, and struggled through this past weekend's Cantaloupe Classic Tournament. Fabens, which battled Pecos for the district title in 1998 before slumping to fifth place last season, fared a little better in the tournament, but lost their top hitter of a year ago, Cynthia Arrieta, to graduation and are lacking in size up front this season.

The Wildcats did have Newcomer of the Year, setter Jessica Antuenz, last season and get back hitter Rebecca Garcia. Fabens lost in the consolation semifinals on Saturday to Presidio and in the opening round of the Sandhills Tournament to them, and were beaten again by the Blue Devils, as was San Elizario, in a dual meet on Tuesday.

Canutillo has been at the bottom of the 2-4A standings the past two years, going 3-22 in 1999 and have lost their top hitter, Ali Pineda, to graduation. The Golden Eagles' top returning player is senior hitter Gracie Borjas, a second-team all-district pick a year ago.

Canutillo should do better this season -- the Golden Eagles did  defeat Presidio in play at Monahans before falling to Alpine.

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