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Thursday, November 4, 1999

Eagles hope to spoil San Eli's finish

Staff Writer
PECOS, Nov. 4, 1999 -- The San Elizario Eagles have been one of the best stories in Texas high school football this season. And on Friday night, the Pecos Eagles will try to, if not ruin the ending, at least mess it up a little bit.

The two Eagle teams meet in San Elizario Friday at 8:30 p.m. in a game that could have a bearing on the opening round playoff picture. It definitely will have a bearing on the District 2-4A championship -- Pecos will be trying to earn a share of the title for the second year in a row with a victory in their final regular season game, while San Elizario will take the title outright, and complete a perfect season in 2-4A, if they win.

Pecos shared the district championship last season with Canutillo, and ended a string of 23 straight years without a playoff appearance. That's a long time, but was still better than San Eli, which had never made the playoffs in the school's history until beating Clint last Friday, 35-14, earning both themselves and Pecos post-season berths.

"It's been super," said coach Joe M. Carrillo, who said his team has been visited by both the El Paso Times and local TV stations this week. "It kind of caught me off-guard, with people coming at you in every direction."

San Elizario is the second oldest city in Texas, but their football history only goes back to 1973, when they began playing Class B football against teams like Balmorhea and Fort Hancock. Population growth in the El Paso area moved the team up from Class A in the early 1980s to Class 4A in 1996, and for most of those years the team found itself overmatched. It could barely beat Class 3A Presidio two years ago, and didn't get its first 4A win until last season, when it downed El Paso Bowie.

This year, after a 1-2 start, with losses to El Paso Americus and El Paso Parkland (more about them later), San Elizario has won six straight games, including a victory at Bowie and four straight district wins, including three-touchdown triumphs over Clint, Canutillo and El Paso Mountain View.

Carrillo's team will be trying to avenge a 48-0 loss at Pecos last season, and will do so with most of the same group, led by quarterback Mike Perez and running back Mike Tapia. "He (Perez) is the go-to guy, and Tapia is the second one," Carrillo said. "Now if teams stop one we can go to the second one."

"Offensively, they've got two explosive players," said Eagles' head coach Gary Grubbs. "I'd venture to say Perez is the best athlete in the district, and probably the Most Valuable Player on offense, and Tapia is a good little running back."

Perez has a shot at a 1,000 yard rushing season Friday night -- he's currently gained 836 yards and scored 14 touchdowns, while passing for 660 yards and six more TDs. Tapia has run for 564 yards and scored four touchdowns, most of that during the last six games. "They've got a dive option where he fakes it and takes it down the line. If he sees something he keeps it, if not he pitches it," the Eagles' coach said.

"I feel like playing Perez is the same as with (Alpine's) Cougar McBride. I'd much rather have him running sideways," Grubbs said, but added, "It's like playing Clint. If we let one player dominate the game, he'll beat us."

Perez, who also punts and plays a key role on defense for San Elizario at linebacker, has thrown just four interceptions in nine games. "I think he's more mature now. This is his third year in the system and he's finally at a place where he knows what to do and to make adjustments, not force things, and go to his second option."

Albert Jacobo has been their main threat, with 14 catches for 247 yards and three touchdowns, with Gilbert Acosta and Lorenzo Castaneda the next-leading receivers.

"When they throw it, they like to go downfield. We're playing a young secondary, but I feel good about it," said Grubbs. Pecos returned two interceptions for scores last week, and get back safety Mason Abila, who missed the game due to an ankle injury.

Both teams come into Friday's game having posted three shutouts this year, with Pecos' latest coming last week against Canutillo, 32-0, to given them a 5-4 season record, 3-1 in district play. The Eagles have allowed fewer yards overall in 1999, but San Elizario held Clint's Jeremy Arnold to just four yards a week ago, after he ran for 209 the previous Friday in the Lions' 41-18 win over the Eagles.

"I've always looked towards West Texas as the type of game I wanted us to play," Carrillo said, referring to the Permian Basin style of lower-scoring, defensive battles. "If you play great defense, the rest takes care of itself, and that's what tends to get lost in the whole thing."

"They look a lot like us. They're not very big, but they're quick and fast and do a good job getting to the football," Grubbs said. "Against Clint they played solid defense. They played just about everybody back in the secondary and just rushed four guys."

"We didn't want to give them the deep ball. We gave then the stuff underneath but we didn't let them beat us deep," Carrillo said. Defensive end Joe Chavez and tackle Sergio Jasso played well up front last week, he said, while in the secondary, "Overall we had a lot of different coverages and just blanketed those guys on the pass. We never broke containment."

While both teams are assured of a playoff game next week, both would like to avoid facing Parkland, which beat San Eli 33-7 and routed El Paso Riverside last week, 62-14 to go to 8-1 on the season. The winner will be assured of not facing the Matadors in the bi-district round, while Pecos can also avoid facing Parkland if Clint defeats Mountain View in the battle for third place in District 2-4A. That would put the Eagles into the Division I playoff, either against El Paso Ysleta or El Paso Riverside no matter what the outcome of Friday's game is.

Brewers tab Lopes as new manager

AP Sports Writer
MILWAUKEE The Milwaukee Brewers are finally giving Davey Lopes a chance to be a manager.

A team source speaking on condition of anonymity told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Lopes, the San Diego Padres' first-base coach, will be introduced as the Brewers' 12th manager.

Lopes, 53, replaces Phil Garner, who was fired in August after nearly eight seasons with Milwaukee. Garner was hired by the Detroit Tigers two weeks ago.

Jim Lefebvre was the Brewers' interim manager for the 1999 season's final seven weeks. The Brewers were 74-87 this year, finishing fifth in the NL Central.

Milwaukee has had seven straight losing seasons. Lopes, perennially a bridesmaid candidate for managerial openings, finally landed a job by impressing new Milwaukee general manager Dean Taylor and team president Wendy Selig-Prieb.

"I know this is a moment he's been waiting for quite a few years," Padres manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday. "I'm grateful for the job he did for us, with his expertise and his help to me. I know that he'll be a great manager for Milwaukee."

Lopes' no-nonsense reputation as a player and coach appealed to Taylor, who has said the Brewers lacked organizational direction.

San Diego general manager Kevin Towers spoke in glowing terms of Lopes' abilities.

"I think he was due (to get a managerial position) four or five years ago," Towers said. "Kudos to Dean Taylor. I think they hired a tremendous guy for their organization."

Lopes and New York Yankees third-base coach Willie Randolph, a former Brewers player, were the finalists for the job, the source said. Lopes, who did not return a phone message left at his home, was believed to be traveling to Milwaukee on Wednesday night from his home in San Diego.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which first reported the hiring on its Web site Wednesday, said Lopes is expected to get a three-year contract worth $1.5 million. Taylor didn't return a phone call seeking comment on Wednesday.

Selig-Prieb's father, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, has demanded teams consider minority candidates for their front-office and managerial vacancies. Lopes, who has Hispanic and African-American heritage, fits that bill.

Lopes has been outspoken about the lack of managerial opportunities for minority candidates.

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