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Wednesday, September 2, 1998

Eagles trying to end DC's Ratliff success

Staff Writer
PECOS, Sept. 2 -- The Denver City Mustangs have always
enjoyed playing in Ratlif Stadium.

A number of the Pecos Eagles' coaches, including head coach
Dan Swaim, have enjoyed playing in Ratliff Stadium.

The Eagles? They've never played in Ratliff Stadium. But
that will change Thursday night, when they travel to Odessa
to face Denver City in the fifth annual Odessa Chamber of
Commerce Kickoff Classic, starting at 8 p.m.

The last time Pecos played in Odessa was 17 years ago, when
they beat the Ector Eagles, 24-0, in the final season for
both Ector High School and W.T. Barrett Stadium. However,
for Denver City, it will be their fifth opener in as many
years at Ratliff, after scoring easy wins the past four
years, twice over Fort Stockton, and the past two times
against Reagan County.

Actually, anywhere has been a good place for Denver City to
play a regular season game the past three years. The
Mustangs have gone 28-2 during that span, including a 10-0
record last Fall.

But the playoffs have been another story.

"We haven't won a playoff game in quite some time, so
that's a goal we're working towards," said head coach Mike
Royce, who took over for Steve Taylor this year, after
Denver City saw their perfect season ended in the
bi-district round by Perryton, 9-3, the third straight
season they've fallen in the opening round.

Falling in their opening game hasn't happened in recent
years, though the Mustangs will be putting a lot of new
faces into starting roles on Thursday. The Mustangs had
problems handling Seagraves' speed in their final pre-season
scrimmage, but Royce said, "We've got a great tradition
here. We had a hard scrimmage on Thursday, and they were
back out there on the practice field Friday, and we
practiced again on Saturday and had good focus all three

"Denver City's a good football team. The run the wing-T
offense and run the option out of it," said Swaim. "They're
pretty quick and aggressive and have a real good

Luis Villegas is one of the few returning regulars, but
last season he ran for nearly 1,000 yards out of the option,
and the Mustangs offense as a whole racked up nearly 400
yards per game.

"He's done pretty well so far," Royce said of his
quarterback. "He gets to carry the ball a lot on offense,
though we may try to pass some more this season."

Both Royce and Swaim Denver City said Denver City doesn't
have the size they did last year, but the Mustangs will
still have several players bigger than almost all of Pecos'
linemen. That includes 275-pound tight end/ defensive tackle
Patrick Boyd and 248 pound center Marcus Garcia.

"Our line is young, but they're coming along. They're a
bunch of smaller, quicker kids, and they really have good
intelligence," the Mustangs' coach said.

Royce said his team is healthy going into Thursday's game,
while Pecos will be without offensive lineman Jeffrey
Martinez for at least 6-8 weeks, as he undergoes surgery to
repair a seperated shoulder. Tight end Trevor Warren has
been moved into Martinez' spot.

Along with being a homecoming of sorts for Swaim and
assistant coaches Jay Ragland, Vance Washington and Gary
Grubbs, Thursday's game will also be the first the Eagles
have played on artificial turf.

Regular cleats would definitely be frowned upon by the
Ector County ISD, so Swaim said, "We'll borrow some shoes.
but it's just like playing on grass, except that it's
greener and harder."

Tailgate party to precede `late' Kickoff

Staff Writer
PECOS, Sept. 2 -- The "Kickoff Classic" actually doesn't
fully live up to its name this season. But Thursday night's
game does kick off the 1998 football season for the teams
involved and will be a new experience for the Pecos Eagles,
when they face the Denver City Mustangs at Odessa's Ratliff

A rule change for the 1998-99 seasons by the University
Interscholastic League allowed all Texas football teams to
play 10 games over 11 weeks for the first time this year,
with the extra date added on the final weekend of August. So
teams such as Odessa High, Andrews and Monahans have already
started their 1998 seasons, though it's still the first week
of play for most Texas teams.

The game is also the Eagles' first in Odessa since 1981, the
year before Ratliff Stadium opened. Pecos has played games
in recent years in Midland's Memorial Stadium, as well as in
Lubbock and El Paso, but not at the top facilities in those
towns, like Jones Stadium and the Sun Bowl.

"A lot of these kids won't play in a stadium this nice in
their careers," said Craig Morgan of the Odessa Chamber of
Commerce, which sponsors the annual event.

"We basically provide a service for the coaches," Morgan
said. "We do all the work for the teams. All the coaches
have to do is take care of the officials, play the game and
go home."

Thursday's game is an 8 p.m. start, and before then, Pecos
Eagle Booster Club members plan to hold a tailgate party in
the west parking lot of Ratliff Stadium, starting at about
5;30 p.m. Morgan said the stadium gates will open at 5 p.m.
for Thursday's game.

Tailgate parties are common outside stadiums before college
and pro football games, though Morgan reminded fans that
this one would have to be non-alcoholic to conform with
Ector County ISD rules. Booster club members are hoping to
hold the tailgate events prior to the start of the Eagles'
home games this season, and decided to test out support for
the plan at Thursday's game.

"My wife talked with Laura Quisenberry (wife of Odessa High
coach Randy Quisenberry), and she said they had one last
year before the Odessa Permian game," Eagles' coach Dan
Swaim said last month. "Everybody sets up at one end of the
field and brings something for before the game."

"We're excited about Pecos coming here," Morgan said. The
Eagles-Mustangs game is one of three neutral site games
scheduled for Ratliff Stadium in September, down one from
recent years, due to the early opening of the season.

The other games are on Saturdays, and Morgan added that, "We
also host a lot of playoff games. Seminole brought all their
fans down last year. They followed the team bus here, and we
ended up with about 10,000 people at the game."

Morgan said the teams that are invited are the "first set
matchup" of the first week of September. "That's been Denver
City the past several years, but next year may be their last
year, and coach Swaim has said he'd definitely like to put
his name in the hat about having the first Thursday game.

Eagle given break after dual losses

PECOS, Sept. 2 -- The Pecos Eagles are going to get a day
off after their matches Tuesday in Alpine. Not as a reward,
but because coach Becky Granado feels they need the rest
after a pair of two-game losses to the Bucks and Odessa High

"I think right now we're just worn down," Granado said after
Pecos lost to OHS, 15-5, 15-7, then fell to Alpine, 15-8,
15-12. "I'm going to give them the day off and let them get
back into the gym on Thursday, because they were just moving
so slow out there."

In all four games the Eagles struggled at the start and
finish. Odessa High jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the opener,
then scored the final seven points after Pecos narrowed the
lead to 8-5. In the second game, the Bronchos were up early
by an 8-3 count, and scored the final five points after the
Eagles closed to within 10-7.

"We just couldn't get anything going," Granado said. Odessa
High did have their top hitter, Shelby Fitzgerald, back in
the lineup, after she missed the Eagles, 15-12, 15-7 win two
weeks earlier with an injury. But Granado said she wasn't
the biggest problem.

"She didn't make that much of a difference. All they did was
serve to us, and we couldn't pass the ball," Granado said.

"We played a little bit better against Alpine," she added,
though the same problems remained. The Bucks went out to a
9-2 lead in the opener, and then scored the final six points
after the Eagles cut the lead to one, while in the second
game Pecos rallied from a 4-1 deficit to take an 11-6 lead,
but were outscored 9-1 the rest of the way.

"We got to within one (in the first game) and missed a serve
and they came back and finished it," Granado said. "We just
started making dumb mistakes like hitting the ball into the
net. I think we hit three into the net in their last six

The losses dropped Pecos to 4-7 on the season going into
pool round play on Friday at the Seminole Invitational. The
Eagles will again face Odessa High in their opener, at 10:30
a.m., then play the host Maidens at 1:30 p.m. and take on
Amarillo River Road in a 5:30 p.m. match.

Pecos' junior varsity team, which split with Alpine and OHS
to open the season, swept the Bucks and Bronchos in three
game matches on Tuesday, Granado said, while the freshmen
Eagles split for the second time in two weeks, beating
Alpine while losing to the Bronchos' sophomore squad.

NL's homer mark broken by McGwire

AP Sports Writer
MIAMI, Sept. 2 -- As Mark McGwire stepped to the plate in
the ninth inning, more than a dozen youngsters scrambled
onto a banked tarp beyond the center-field wall, eager to
catch some history.

It came their way moments later, a baseball launched an
estimated 472 feet, giving McGwire a National League record
with 57 home runs this season.

The homer was McGwire's second of the night Tuesday. He
broke Hack Wilson's record of 56 homers set in 1930, leading
the St. Louis Cardinals over the Florida Marlins 7-1.

``I've never seen anything like it,'' said Marlins manager
Jim Leyland, who has been in professional baseball since
1964. ``The guy is hitting balls out of Yellowstone Park.''

``It's a pretty awesome feat,'' McGwire agreed. ``I'm
totally excited.''

The Cardinals slugger pulled ahead of Sammy Sosa, who
remained at 55 homers. With 24 games remaining, McGwire is
on pace to hit 67 home runs. Roger Maris' major league
record is 61.

``Now it's getting a little bit exciting,'' Sosa said after
his Chicago Cubs beat Cincinnati 6-5. ``Mark has 57 and
that's a lot. Everybody knows that everybody is pulling for
Mark, and I'm pulling for Mark, too. And I want him to break
the record first.''

``This is a great thing happening in baseball,'' McGwire
said. ``We don't know if it'll ever happen again.''

McGwire's latest power surge came after he flied out in the
first inning, drew playful boos for hitting a mere single in
the third, and grounded out in the fifth.

Leading off the seventh, he homered on a 1-1 fastball from
Livan Hernandez, sending the pitch an estimated 450 feet
over the center-field wall. Even McGwire was impressed with
the trajectory.

``It hung up there so long, I wondered if it was ever going
to come down,'' he said.

Two innings later, he hit the first pitch from Donn Pall to
almost the same spot. Each homer prompted a standing ovation
from the crowd of 37,014 and a curtain call from McGwire.

``Two curtain calls is an unbelievable feeling for an
athlete,'' McGwire said. ``It means a lot.''

Both homers sailed over the head of center fielder Todd

``It looks like he hits with a golf club, he makes the ball
look so small,'' Dunwoody said.

The balls were recovered by a Little League outfielder and a
teen-age magician, who gave the souvenirs to McGwire in
exchange for autographed balls, bats, jerseys, photos and
tickets to tonight's game.

``The stuff is better than the money,'' said Jason Duncan,
11, who retrieved homer No. 56. ``It was a hard decision to
make, but I knew it meant a lot to him.''

Michael Pitt, a high-school senior and part-time magician,
recovered No. 57.

``I called off work tonight,'' he said. ``I said to my
friends, `I'm going to catch a Mark McGwire ball.' I don't
even think they believed that I was going to the game
because I'm the class clown, so nobody believes me.''

It was McGwire's seventh multihomer game this season and the
50th of his career.

``It's a magical moment, what's happening with him and
Sammy,'' said the Marlins' Hernandez (10-11). ``All you
could do was watch it and be part of the moment.''

Wilson's NL record of 56 homers was set in 1930 for the
Chicago Cubs. He also had 190 RBIs that season, still the
major league record. McGwire has driven in 121 runs.

Before his latest homers, McGwire was batting just .222 this
season against the Marlins, who have the worst pitching
staff in the league. But McGwire hit a 545-footer, his
longest of the season, against Hernandez in St. Louis on May

``Two home runs, one mile,'' Hernandez joked.

Almost forgotten was a fine performance by Matt Morris
(5-4), who allowed one run in seven innings. Ron Gant hit
his 22nd homer and Ray Lankford added his 25th for the

But it was the McGwire homers that dazzled everyone -- even
his manager.

``Mark continues to amaze,'' Tony La Russa said. ``What he's
doing is impossible to describe.''

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Pecos Enterprise
Mac McKinnon, Publisher
Division of Buckner News Alliance, Inc.

324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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