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Thursday, September 23, 1999

Cranes to test Eagles’ home streak

Staff Writer
PECOS, Sept. 23, 1999 -- After five straight weeks on the road, the Pecos Eagles finally get to play a much-needed home game Friday night, when they host the Crane Golden Cranes in an 8 p.m. start.

“I know the kids are excited about playing at home. We’ve been playing on the road for the last five weeks,” said Eagles’ coach Gary Grubbs. Pecos played both of its scrimmage games and its first three regular season games out of town, closing with last week’s disappointing 17-14 loss at Fort Stockton.

The Eagles won just once on the road a year ago, while sweeping all of their home games in 1999. But they’ll face a tough challenge to extend that streak against Crane, which is 3-0 and ranked 10th in this week’s Class 3A high school football poll. Crane was also ranked in the Top 10 a year ago, when they beat Pecos by a 29-0 final score.

“I don’t think they’re as big as last year, but I think they’ve got better overall team speed and they look pretty deep in the backfield,” said Grubbs. “They’ve got several kids they put in the backfield and of course they’ve got (Clay) McGuire.”

“I feel like he’s a better player than last year, and I would expect him to do so” coach Alan Cherry said of McGuire. “He runs the ball real well and he throws the ball real well.”

The Cranes’ quarterback broke seven Pecos tackles to score from seven yards out just before halftime of last year’s game, after Pecos had stayed within 7-0 up to that point. Crane then dominated the second half, and ended up limiting Pecos to 106 yards total offense.

After beating Fort Stockton in their first game by a 50-0 score, and seeing the Panthers outplay the Eagles last Friday, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Cranes were looking past Pecos to their matchup next week with Denver City – except for the fact that Crane had to rally last Friday to score a 16-7 win over Seminole, a team that had lost  28-0 in their first two games to Crane’s District 4-3A rivals, Monahans and Greenwood.

“Seminole played real good against us. They did a good job and our kids played well,” Cherry said, while adding, “We played pretty solid, but we still need to get better in a lot of areas.”

Luther Davenport, Harold Jeffrey and Willie Morris are Crane’s trio of backs, who actually see more time on the field on defense. “We’ve got three guys we rotate in and out, but all three start on defense,” Cherry said.

McGuire also is starting at defensive end, something he didn’t do a year ago, though having several two-way starters hasn’t hurt the Cranes yet. Seminole’s touchdown is the only one Crane has allowed through 12 quarters this year.

 “I think that says a little bit about them when you’ve got a Division 1 (college) quarterback playing at defensive end they’re not as deep this year as they were,” Grubbs said. That didn’t matter for Crane much in their first two games, when they blew out Fort Stockton and McCamey early, but Cherry had to play McGuire and his other two-way starters more last week against Seminole, as the Indians led the Cranes until just prior to halftime.

“Some things we’re stronger in than last year, and some things we’re weaker. We lost 16, but we’ve got 16 back,” Cherry said.

The Eagles meanwhile have their own depth problems. Pecos should get back Len Carson, who missed last week’s game with a pulled groin muscle, but will be without Jacob Esparza, who hurt his neck in last week’s loss to Fort Stockton. Mason Abila will take his place at fullback, while continuing to play in the defensive backfield.

Grubbs is hoping they won’t have to play Sebero Jaquez at center again this week, after he was forced to move over from defensive end when Micha Huffman suffered a concussion in Pecos’ win at Alpine. “If he comes back and does a good job in practice he’ll be able to start and Sebero Jaquez can start on defense. If he can’t then we’ll have to start him at center.”

“We’re young and still learning. We only have really one returning starter on offense (Carson),” Grubbs said. “With Jason Payne we’ve got two, but we weren’t planning to play him as much on offense,” he added. The broken hand Payne suffered in Pecos’ opening loss to Denver City made that decision academic, at least until the end of the month.

“Defensively, I think we’re ahead of where we were last year, while offensively we’re a little bit behind,” Grubbs said. “But I think we’ve got a good opportunity to win if we play the way we can.”

Teams to be `off track’ on Friday

PECOS, Sept. 23, 1999 -- The one good thing about the Pecos Eagles’ five weeks on the road to start the football season was it gave workers more time to install the new track at Eagle Stadium.

But when the varsity takes the field Friday night for their home opener against Crane, the new surface still will not be ready for regular usage, Pecos-Barstow-Toyah athletic director Bubba Williams said.

“It should be ready next week for homecoming, but this week we want everybody to keep off of it,” Williams said.

 The track, a combined effort of the school district, Reeves County and the Town of Pecos City, will be open for the public’s use after the new surface has had time to set. All the gates to the stadium are currently locked, though head football coach Gary Grubbs still had to get one walker off the track earlier this week while workers were still applying the new surface.

 For Friday night, Williams said, “We’re going to have carpeting for both football teams and the band to walk over, so no one has to go on the track.” Assistant superintendent Gome Olibas previously said a new fence would be built at the south end of the stadium to keep cars parked at the field house off the track, which cost nearly $100,000 to rebuild.

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