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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas

Thursday, August 28, 2003

Eagles debuting new look on offense in opener

Staff Writer

New coach. New offense. New opponent. Same results?

Well, the Pecos Eagles will be looking for the same results from Friday's season-opening football game against the Midland Christian Mustangs that they had in their season opener a year ago. But they'll be hoping everything else in 2003 is drastically different after that, when they play their first game under new head coach Patrick Willis, starting at 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Stadium.

Pecos started off 2002 in impressive fashion, with a 35-10 victory over next week's opponent, the Alpine Bucks. But that turned out to be the high point of the season for the Eagles, who proceeded to lose their final eight games, earning only a forfeit win over Presidio along the way.

The Blue Devils have dropped their football program, so in an effort to get a 10th game on the schedule, Pecos turned their scheduled scrimmage on Saturday against Midland Christian into their season opener. It's one of six home games for the Eagles, who'll be at home again next week to face Alpine.

Willis, who spent the past three seasons coaching under Randy Quisenberry at Abilene Cooper and played against Pecos for Monahans in the mid-1980s, has switched up the Eagles' offense, going to a one-back set-up and spread formations. In their only scrimmage of the pre-season, things didn't start that great - Rashad Terry fumbled away the first pitch from quarterback Saul Pina - but Terry went on to score on a 7-yard run and on a 70-yard screen pass reception against El Paso Riverside. Booker Fobbs added a 67-yard scoring run and Pina connected with John Parent on a 55-yard yard pass to set up Terry's first score against the Rangers, who had shut out Pecos in last year's scrimmage.

"I kind of wish we would have had another scrimmage with a game situation, since the kids haven't been in it yet" Willis said. "But it might be to our advantage. We might be a little more hyped up to hit someone besides ourselves."

Defensively in their scrimmage the Eagles had three fumble recoveries in their first series, but other than that had problems containing Riverside's offense in the 4-3 scrimmage loss. That's similar to the results Midland Christian had in their final scrimmage, when they allowed Coahoma four touchdowns, while scoring two and adding a field goal during the game situation portion of the contest.

The results may say more about Coahoma - which beat defending District 4-3A champ and state runner-up Greenwood in their first scrimmage - than it does about coach Greg McClendon's Mustangs, who are looking to bounce back from a 4-6 season after consecutive TAPPS Class 4A state championships in 2000 and 2001.

As a private school, Midland Christian has the freedom to play an 11-game regular season schedule, which allowed them to change Saturday's scrimmage to a game. The Mustangs already have scrimmaged twice - they faced the Eagles' District 4-3A rival Fort Stockton two weeks ago and McClendon said his team can use the extra work under game conditions against Pecos.

"It's no different from playing a 10 straight weeks," McClendon said. "I would have liked to have scheduled a game against Pecos last year, and when coach Willis came in with only nine games, he asked "why isn't this a regular season game," and we made the change."

McClendon said his young team can also use the extra work under game conditions. "We don't have too many people who started last year who are back," he said, and the Mustangs lost starters Josh and J.W. Wilson, when they transferred to Midland High during the offseason.

Still, the Mustangs also had a good scrimmage on offense against Fort Stockton. "That's been a little bit surprising because we're so young, but we're still a ways from where we need to be," McClendon said.

"Midland Christian has got a real good receiver-type tight end, and their quarterback, (Corey Culp) throws real good," Willis said. "They have a pretty good hard-nosed fullback (Blake Morphew). He's got a squatty build and runs hard, and their other running back is pretty shifty. They love to run the draw - it's a real big play for them last year and this year."

Culp, a junior, had a 54-yard TD pass to Clay Hantz in the scrimmage with Coahoma. "He's getting better every day. I'm awfully proud of him," McClendon said.

Running back Thomas Minihan had the Mustangs' other touchdown. He gained 170 yards in the Mustangs' scrimmage with Fort Stockton. "He's a senior for us this year, and it's his turn to shine," McClendon said, though he was the team's No. 2 rusher a year ago.

"Defensively, they've got good size up front. Their nose guard (Justin Cannon) is a player. He's a big boy who's going to be tough to handle," Willis said.

"He's the anchor of our defense," McClendon said of Cannon, while Hantz, at free safety, is the top player for Midland Christian in their secondary.

The Eagles only suited up 27 players for their scrimmage with Riverside, with four linemen sitting out the scrimmage due to injuries. Those four are back, and Pecos has added seven other players to their roster, most of those on the line, which should at least give Willis and his staff more depth to work with on Friday.

"Those big boys should be able to help us, but we have to work them into shape mentally and physically," Willis said.

Pecos gridders go to Midland for JV opener

The Pecos Eagles' varsity football team isn't the only one starting their 2003 season a week earlier than scheduled. Pecos' junior varsity will kick off its season this evening at 6 p.m. in Midland, with a game against the Midland Christian Mustangs.

The JV teams, like the varsity squads, were supposed to scrimmage at Grande Communications Stadium on Saturday, but changed them into their regular season openers. Tonight's game will be played at Midland Christian's field, located on Culver Street, west of Midkiff and north of Golf Course Road.

Pecos' freshmen were not scheduled to scrimmage Midland, and they also won't be playing this week. The ninth graders' regular season opener will be next Thursday afternoon, when they travel to Alpine to face the Bucks.

The Eagles' seventh and eighth grade teams also will start their seasons a week from today against Alpine, with the purple squads hosting the Bucks. The seventh and eighth grade gold teams will start their seasons on Sept. 11, with a pair of games in Monahans.

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Pecos Enterprise
York M. "Smokey" Briggs, Publisher
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