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Thursday, August 5, 1999

Grubbs excited about Eagles' workout effort

Staff Writer
PECOS, Aug. 5, 1999 -- They didn't get in their midnight practice as planned, but the Pecos Eagles still managed to work out under the stars, if not under the lights on Wednesday, on the first day of preseason football drills.

A total of 39 varsity players showed up for the evening workouts, which began in the sunlight but ended with 30 yard sprints shortly before 10 p.m. at the Pecos High School practice field. Another 57 players worked out both on the junior varsity and freshman teams, with the ninth graders practicing at Crockett Middle School.

"Right now we've got about 100 kids out, and we're probably missing about 20 kids who'll be back in town," said new head coach Gary Grubbs, who spent last season as an assistant to Dan Swaim on the Eagles' staff.

Grubbs is Pecos' fourth head coach in the past five seasons, but compared to five years ago when only 54 varsity, JV and freshmen players showed up to begin workouts the football program is in much better shape. The Eagles come into 1999 off their first winning season since 1986 and their first district championship and playoff berth since 1975.

"The kids had a great attitude out there. I couldn't be more excited and the whole coaching staff is excited," Grubbs said. "Some of them could be in a little better condition, but as far as the effort they gave out there, it was awesome.

"I don't think some of them worked out as good as they should have, but the effort was there, so they'll be all right," he added.

Full contact workouts won't start for another week, so aside from conditioning work, Wednesday practice involved as much mental work as physical for the Eagles.

"Coach (Ron) Arnesen has them going over gap response alignments," said Grubbs. Instead of running plays, Arnesen, the Eagles' new defensive coordinator, checked to see if Pecos' defenders knew which spots to go to in their defensive alignments.

Pecos run off a few offensive plays near the end of the workout, and Grubbs said practice will get tougher as the week goes on.

"For conditioning we're going to add just a little bit each day, on offense we'll add a little bit each day and on defense we'll add a little each day," Grubbs said.

Aikman says he's still hungry for title

WICHITA FALLS, Aug. 5, 1999 (AP) Troy Aikman feels is helpless against the pull of perfection. No matter how much he tries to ease up, the Dallas Cowboys quarterback continues to demand it from himself.

"Sometimes I try to back off a little bit and not be quite be as competitive," Aikman said. "But that's just my makeup."

That makeup has helped the Dallas Cowboys win three Super Bowls this decade. It's also helped Aikman become the highest-paid player in NFL history.

And as he prepares for his 11th season, it keeps him from being satisfied with a career that will one day earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

"I want to win the Super Bowl as badly today as I did before I won the first one," Aikman said. "I'd be highly disappointed if I left the game and didn't win another."

Aikman, who turns 33 in November, said Wednesday he plans to play 3-5 more seasons. That's quite a change from earlier in his career when he talked about retiring by 30.

"I still feel like my best years are ahead of me," Aikman said. "I still feel like I can go out and play at a high level, compete and do the things I need to do."

Although the Cowboys have won only one playoff game in the three seasons since their last championship, Aikman said he believes they have the talent to win it all this year.

If they don't, it would be the longest championship drought of his career.

Loaiza tames Twins' hitters in 3-1 victory

ARLINGTON, Texas, Aug. 5, 1999 (AP) At the end of spring training, Esteban Loaiza lost his spot in the rotation to 39-year-old Mike Morgan. The Texas Rangers opened the season with Loaiza in the bullpen, and there were no guarantees he'd stay with the team.

But Loaiza found his way back into the rotation when others faltered, and he's made the most of his second chance.

On Wednesday night, he pitched six shutout innings, allowing just two hits, as the Rangers improved to 10-0 against Minnesota this season, beating the Twins 3-1.

"I'm just trying to do the best job possible," said Loaiza, who won his fourth straight decision. "I can't get a big head."

Loaiza (4-1) worked around five walks, sending the Twins to their fourth straight loss. He's pitching as well as he has in two seasons with the Rangers.

"Any time you get six shutout innings, I'll take it," manager Johnny Oates said. "Five walks are too many, but the defense bailed him out. I'd like him to throw more strikes. Sometimes he tries to be too fine."

Jeff Zimmerman pitched two innings and gave up Denny Hocking's home run in the eighth. John Wetteland pitched the ninth for his 33rd save, completing the combined four-hitter.

The AL West-leading Rangers (65-42) won their fourth in a row to tie Cleveland for best record in the majors. Texas is 17-3 since the All-Star break.

Oates said he'll be excited if his team still has the league's best mark in two months.

"Right now, what does it get me?" he asked.

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Pecos Enterprise
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