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Thursday, September 9, 1999

Eagles hunt offense, Cougar in Alpine

Staff Writer
PECOS, Sept. 09, 1999 -- The Pecos Eagles will have a slightly new look with familiar faces running the ball Friday night. The Alpine Bucks will have their same look, but with an old face in a new position, when they host the Eagles in their 1999 football home opener.

The Eagles, shut out in their two preseason scrimmages and in last Thursday's season opener against Denver City, will try to open things up more for running backs Len Carson and Jacob Esparza against the Bucks, who edged Alpine in their season opener by a 22-20 final score.

"We're running some plays out of the `I' (formation) to try and get Len the ball more when he can see the openings," coach Gary Grubbs said. "Len's vision is better back there, and he seems to like it."

Carson gained just 29 yards and Esparza had 16 in last week's 17-0 loss, as the Eagles had just 47 total yards on offense, and minus-1 rushing thanks to four quarterback sacks and a bad punt snap.

Alpine's plans on offense are pretty easy to figure out _ have Cougar McBride run the ball. The senior has switched from fullback to quarterback this season, and ran for 192 yards in the Bucks' season opener.

"He looked real good," said Bucks' coach Ronnie Stooksberry. "He's adjusted real well. We started working him at quarterback last spring, and it's helping since he gets the ball all the time."

McBride is about the only player in the backfield Stooksberry has left from last season, when Alpine finished a surprising second in the District 4-3A standings. "We had 21 seniors graduate, which is a lot for us," he said. "This is one of the youngest teams we've every had. Right now, we've got more sophomores on the varsity than juniors on the JV."

With McBride moving to quarterback, Stooksberry said lineman Miles Walker has taken his place at fullback. "He's got some quickness and good strength. That's why we moved him from the line back to fullback," the Bucks' coach said.

Alpine continues to run the option offense, with McBride keeping the ball much of the time in last week's opener. "Alpine's solid. What they do they do good," Grubbs said. "It's nothing fancy, but they're consistent."

"They only threw it once, but they ran three different pass formations where McBride ended up running it," he added. "I don't think he's quite as fast (as last year's quarterback, Justin Yarborough), but when he gets into the secondary, he rumbles."

Grubbs said the Bucks also continue to run the 5-0 defense, "Van Horn moved the football on them. They had a chance to take a 14-6 lead at halftime. They had the ball at the five and fumbled the snap. In the second half Alpine just leaned on them and pretty much controlled things."

The Bucks have one receiver back, in tight end Derek Rodriguez, who also starts at defensive end for the Bucks. Also returning on defense is Alpine's other end, Kasey McComb, while McBride and James Carrillo return at linebacker.

"Rodriguez is about 6-foot-4, 260, so he's got some pretty good size," Grubbs said. Overall, Stooksberry said Alpine's line "doesn't have much size different up front, just a lack of experience."

The Bucks' coach said he'll also get one player, Ramon Rodriguez, off the injury list this week, while the Eagles will be dealing with a couple of injuries suffered in last week's loss, the biggest a broken hand suffered by senior Jason Payne.

"He's got it in a cast right now. He can play defense, but he's out for a couple of weeks at least on offense," Grubbs said. Kevin Bates and Derek Zubledia are listed as the Eagles' starting receivers this week, while Payne is still scheduled to start at safety.

Tonight at 6 p.m., Pecos' junior varsity team will go to Alpine to face the Bucks, while the Eagles' other sub varsity squads face former district rival Andrews tonight. The seventh graders and freshmen go to Andrews for games, at 4, 5:30 and 7 p.m. Pecos' eighth graders will host Andrews today with `A' and `B' games at 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Rangers get sweep, Tribe clinches title

ARLINGTON, Texas, Sept. 9, 1999 (AP) Another loss didn't stop Cleveland from clinching another AL Central title.

The Indians left the Ballpark at Arlington and were in the air somewhere between Texas and Chicago when the division race ended Wednesday night. Hours after Texas beat Cleveland 3-0 Wednesday night, the second-place Chicago White Sox 23 1/2 games behind were eliminated with a 6-5, 10-inning loss at Anaheim.

"They're playing good baseball, and they're 22 games better than a lot of teams," Chicago manager Jerry Manuel said. "I guess you have to put your stamp on them after the playoffs and the World Series. That's a real test of how good a team is one that endures the playoffs and the World Series."

To get to the Series, the Indians might have to play Texas again. The AL West-leading Rangers won the season series 7-3.

"They can beat us all year long," Cleveland's Richie Sexson said. "But if they don't beat us in the playoffs, it doesn't matter."

John Burkett took the mound against the Indians willing to try the same formula of high strikes he successfully used against them three weeks ago.

After just a few pitches, he went to Plan B.

By keeping the ball down, moving it inside and out and changing speeds, Burkett once again found a way to silence the highest-scoring team in the majors.

"I tried to throw the ball up a couple of times, but I wasn't able to control it very well. It seemed like I had really good control down, which is safer anyway, so I stuck with it," Burkett said.

The Indians got a hit in each of the first five innings against Burkett (7-7), but they were all two-out singles. He needed only eight pitches for a 1-2-3 sixth, then got into a jam in the seventh.

Einar Diaz singled with one out and Omar Vizquel doubled an out later, putting runners on second and third. Texas manager Johnny Oates pulled Burkett, and the fans sent him to the dugout with a standing ovation.

"I felt it before he even left the mound," Oates said.

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