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Friday, October 22, 1999

Eagles to play San Elizario first, talk later

PECOS, Oct. 22, 1999 -- First comes the volleyball match, then comes the chess match -- or poker game, if you prefer -- over the likely site of the Pecos Eagles' next game.

The Eagles were supposed to close out their 1999 regular season schedule on Saturday in San Elizario, starting at about 3:15 p.m. CDT. But unless everything works out just right, Pecos will be playing another game on Monday against the El Paso Mountain View Lobos, to make up for their canceled game on Sept. 25.

That's because the Lobos (4-4) and San Elizario (4-5) are still battling for the third and final post-season berth, with Mountain View holding a half-game lead going into their match on Saturday with Clint. The Lobos can also still beat out the Eagles (6-2) for second place if Pecos loses on Saturday, though that would take another match on Tuesday to accomplish.

Wins by both teams Saturday would clinch second place for Pecos and third place for Mountain View, avoiding a Monday game. If not, the teams and athletic directors Bubba Williams and Rudy Avalos will meet in Clint after play ends Saturday to negotiate about the site for the match.

With a playoff game in El Paso already set for Oct. 30, Eagles' coach Becky Granado wants to avoid a 190-mile drive on Monday, if possible.

"We're going to start off by asking them to come here, because they're the ones who failed to have the officials show up," Granado said. "If not, then he (Williams) will see if we can meet halfway in Van Horn."

San Elizario, meanwhile, will be assured of remaining in the playoff picture if they can beat Pecos, a trick they almost pulled off earlier this month. The downed the host Eagles 15-13, then rallied from a 14-10 deficit in Game 2 to tie the score at 14-all. Pecos finally won 18-16, then got things together to close out the match with an 18-16 victory.

Granado brought hitter Melanie Franco up from the junior varsity a week ago, and gave her a lot of playing time in Tuesday's 15-3, 15-9 win over Canutillo. "She played against Clint (last Saturday), but not all the way around," Granado said. "She had some pretty passes. She was a little nervous at the start, since she had never played back line before, but she did a good job."

Franco's absence, and area band competition in Odessa on Saturday, will leave Pecos with barely enough players for a sub-varsity match. As a result, no freshman contest will be played, while the JV will start at 2 p.m. CDT.

Netters seek regional spot on Saturday

PECOS, Oct. 22, 1999 -- The Pecos Eagles tennis team will take just one win on Saturday, in the District 2-4A tennis tournament, as long as it's the match in the morning.

Pecos will face the Fabens Wildcats starting at 9:30 a.m. CDT in Fabens, in semifinal play of the four teams tournament. District schools San Elizario and Canutillo do not have tennis teams, although San Elizario is hosting Saturday's other semifinal match between Clint and Mountain View, and the finals later that afternoon.

With just four teams in the tournament, the semifinals winners will automatically advance to the Region I-4A Tournament next week in Wichita Falls.

The Eagles played in Fabens last Saturday, losing an 11-7 match to the Wildcats. But coach Bernadette Ornelas is hoping the addition of several players for the morning match only will be enough to advance to Saturday's finals. Those players will be staying in El Paso overnight after performing with the Pecos Eagle band at tonight's football game in Clint, then will drive 250 miles to Odessa after the morning match with Fabens to rejoin band members for the area marching contest at Ratliff Stadium.

Spread out Eagles drop sub-varsity games

Staff Writer
PECOS, Oct. 22, 1999 -- The Pecos Eagles may have had their freshmen spread a little to thin to win Thursday night, in sub varsity play against Kermit and Monahans.

The Eagles, who started the season with eight freshmen on the junior varsity, moved a couple up to the varsity this week, which meant a number of changes on offense for the JV, which fell in the closing minutes to Kermit by a 14-12 final score. The ninth graders, who've had a full squad for just two games this season, lost earlier in the evening to Monahans, by a 27-6 final score.

A blown coverage on a sideline receiver after a time-out allowed Kermit to score off a 61-yard touchdown pass with 2:57 to play, and the Jackets won on a two-point conversion run. Pecos had used a turnover to take a 12-6 lead in the third period on a one-yard run by Chris Lara, and scored first, on a four-yard run by Jason Gonzales in the second quarter. The JV went with freshmen Robbie Ontiveros at quarterback, after first and second team quarterbacks Peter Juarez and Matthew Levario were moved up to the varsity.

The ninth graders fell behind Monahans 21-0 in the first half, then cut that to 21-6 in the third period off a halfback option pass by Robert Natividad to Robert Carrasco from three yards out. The touchdown came after the Eagles recovered an onside kick, but Pecos couldn't recover two Loboes' fumbles on the next series, and Monahans ended up going in for their clinching touchdown.

Thursday's game was the first in two weeks for the JV, while Pecos' seventh and eighth grade teams had Thursday off.

Tonight at 8:30 p.m. CDT, Pecos' varsity takes on the Clint Lions in Clint, in what was supposed to be a battle for the District 2-4A title according to pre-season predictions. The Eagles have held up their end of the bargain narrowly, with an overtime victory at Fabens and last week's 28-20 comeback victory over El Paso Mountain View, but Pecos will be looking for a win to stay at least tied with San Elizario in the district standings, while the game is even bigger for Clint.

The Lions bounced back last week to win by six at Fabens after an 2-4A opening loss to Canutillo, and have to play San Elizario a week from tonight.

San Elizario gets hard-luck Fabens in their game this evening, while Mountain View will hope to keep themselves in the playoff picture when they host Canutillo in the other district game.

Canutillo (1-1 district, 1-6 season) at EP Mountain View (0-2, 3-3): It's more of a must-win game for the Lobos than it is for the Golden Eagles, but with a trip to Pecos coming up next week Canutillo doesn't want to find themselves tied with Mountain View after tonght.

The Golden Eagles appeared to have things turned around after they held Clint to just 21 points two weeks ago, but last week the 21 they allowed San Eli was 21 more than they could manage, as five turnvovers, four of them Jesus Navarette interceptions, helped the visiting Eagles post their third shutout of the season.

Mountain View moved the ball well on Pecos in the first half and had one good drive late in the third period, but couldn't get anything going in the fourth quarter and were hurt by some costly late penalties. This should be a higher scoring game than last week for both teams.

Fabens (0-2, 3-4) at San Elizario (2-0, 5-2): As much as Pecos complained about the officials in Fabens two weeks ago, the Wildcats think if it wasn't for the refs, they'd be the ones playing for sole possession of first tonight. Vicente Macias' fourth down run against the Eagles ended with the officials say his shoulder hit the goal line pylon while the football stayed outside the end zone in overtime, while Johnny Torres was ruled to have caught a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:14 to play last week for Clint, though the film shows the ball hitting the turf at the two-yard line.

Macias ran for four touchdowns and 145 yards last week, while Beto Nunez added another 139 yards in the loss. Things will be a lot tougher this time against San Elizario, who could be the best story in El Paso this year. The Eagles, who could barely beat Presidio two seasons ago, can assure themselves of their first winning record in over a decade and all but wrap up their first playoff berth in nearly two decades with a win tonight.

Quarterback Mike Perez gives San Eli the district's most balanced offense, while Frank Tapia has also come on as a runner in recent weeks. Defensively, they limited Canutillo to 127 yards rushing and 4-for-20 passing a week ago in their first-ever victory over the Golden Eagles.

Braves hope changes since `96 can beat Yanks

AP Baseball Writer
ATLANTA, Oct. 22, 1999  Terry Mulholland can understand why a lot of people grew weary of watching the Atlanta Braves each October.

He felt the same way, too.

"When I played on other teams, I couldn't stand them," the Braves pitcher said Thursday. "I was tired of seeing them in the postseason."

Of course, that's all changed now. Traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Braves on July 31, he's now trying to help them beat one of his former clubs, the New York Yankees.

A lot has changed since the Yankees and Braves met in the World Series three years ago.

The old stadium in Atlanta is just a parking lot now, with painted lines where the basepaths used to be. Jimmy Key and Cecil Fielder are out of baseball. Mark Wohlers and Marquis Grissom are out of Atlanta.

"I don't think we're going to spend a lot of time figuring out what's the difference between now and 1996," Braves pitcher Tom Glavine said.

Glavine will start against Orlando "El Duque" Hernandez, MVP of the AL Championship Series, in Game 1 Saturday night at Turner Field.

The addresses have switched, and so have the attitudes going into a rematch of that World Series won by New York in six games.

"That team wasn't sure if it was good enough to beat the Braves," said pitcher David Cone, one of 12 Yankees left from that club. "We had never done it before. Now we have the experience to know what we can do."

First baseman Tino Martinez said: "That year we were the underdogs. We wanted to win, but this year we expect to win."

Chipper Jones is one of only eight Braves still remaining.

"We're a lot closer as a team, we're a lot tighter," the third baseman said. "We didn't have a lot of injuries in '96, we didn't have a lot of adversity."

The Braves' only setback came that season after they won the first two games of the World Series at New York. Back home, in the final three games ever at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, they lost three in a row to the Yankees.

In the pivotal play of the series, Jim Leyritz hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning on a hanging breaking ball from Wohlers in Game 4. The long drive sailed over the glove of left fielder Andruw Jones.

"That was a mistake that he hit it," Jones said after Thursday's workout. "But I don't remember that stuff. That was 1996 and this is 1999. I'm hoping things go differently."

The defending champion Yankees are trying to win their third championship in four years.

Atlanta, in the postseason for the eighth straight time, is hoping to win its second title in the '90s and avoid becoming the first team to lose four World Series in a decade since the New York Giants from 1910-19.

The Braves won two of three at Yankee Stadium in July during interleague play. But slugger Ryan Klesko, who homered twice in one of those games, said that won't have much effect on what happens in October.

Westbrook prepares to deal with Deion

WASHBURN, Va., Oct. 22, 1999 (AP) Michael Westbrook's self-proclaimed march to the Hall of Fame hits another glitch Sunday. The Washington Redskins receiver will face cornerback Deion Sanders of the Dallas Cowboys, which means fewer balls thrown his way.

"It's frustrating, because I know that I'm better than these defensive backs," Westbrook said. "But the coaches don't care. They figure if they got a weak DB on one side and a strong DB on the other side, then let's pick on the weak DB who is more than likely not going to be covering me."

Westbrook was stewing because he had only three catches for 25 yards against Aeneas Williams in last week's 24-10 victory at Arizona. The glory in that game went instead to Albert Connell, who had eight catches for 110 yards and moved ahead of Westbrook in receptions and receiving yards on the season.

"I want to go to the Hall of Fame because I know I have the ability to," said Westbrook, who has 24 catches for 467 yards and four touchdowns. "But it's going to be a long road for me if every week we get a decent defensive back and we go, `OK, we're not going to throw to Mike.' "

In his previous four years in the league, Westbrook's Hall of Fame dreams went nowhere because of injuries and off-the-field problems. This is his best season yet so far, and coach Norv Turner, who is used to hearing Westbrook's pine for the ball, shrugged off this latest complaint.

"I don't think anything about that game was intentional," Turner said. "There were a number of times the ball had an equal chance to go to Mike, and they actually rolled up on him and singled Albert.

"You know, Mike caught eight the week before, so over those two weeks he's averaging five. If he's in that five, six catches per game average, he's going to end up with a lot of catches and a lot of yards."

Meanwhile, Connell has not only caught up with Westbrook's statistics, he's matching Westbrook's bravado. Connell, for example, has no inhibitions about the prospect of drawing Sanders for a play or two or even more.

"I don't think Deion can cover me," Connell said. "He's been in the league 10 years. He's a good corner, All-Pro, but I feel right now I'm at the stage of my game where I can just get by anybody."

That's brave talk from a third-year player with just 11 NFL starts, but Connell has enjoyed a series of breakout performances this year. He's already had three 100-yard games, and his 26 catches for 485 yards puts him in top 10 in the NFC in both categories.

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