This year I was approached to do my first season of Texas High School Football for Town Talk Sports El Paso. I had never done play by play before, so I didn’t know what to expect and what I got was amazing memories.
The year started out at the Socorro Student Activities Complex (SAC), a game between Americas High School and Eastwood. The Troopers got out to an early lead, but Americas’ Aaron Dumas had his welcome to the spot light that is Texas High School Football. With 34 carries for 377 yards and 4 TD’s, it was his last touchdown that lead to the game winner, a Hook-and-Ladder thrown as time was dwindling down and Americas was trailing by 5, giving them the big 39-37 win to start the season off right. Dumas, a sophomore, would finish the season with 2,332 yards and 17 total TD’s.
Week two saw the Eastlake Falcons take on the Montwood Rams at the SAC. A game that featured two schools with playoff hopes fighting for their life in the second week of the season. Montwood got the win over a more than game Eastlake team, but as the season wore on, The Rams would finish 4-6 and out of the playoffs, while the Falcons would finish with a record of 5-6, but squeezed into the playoffs with a big win over Bel Air, but ultimately losing in the Bi-District Round of the playoffs to Caprock.
The Spartans of Pebble Hills and the Chapin Huskies matched up in week three, the Spartans getting the win 34-14, on their way to a 5-6 season that ended in the Bi-District Round. Chapin had an up and down season, playing for a chance to make the post season at the end of the year finishing with a 4-7 record, more on the Huskies later.
Weeks Four and Five we were given the task of keeping up with the Del Valle Conquistadores as they took on Canutillo and Hanks respectfully. Del Valle out scored their opponents 95-28 in those two games, Raymond Montes piling up 12 total TD’s in those games. Those two games opened my eyes to the talents Montes has, we heard about his arm talent, but seeing his running ability showed how well he can make reads and how well he can lead a team. Hanks and Canutillo showed tenacity as well, fighting to the end, but ultimately losing the games, but making the playoffs. Canutillo would finish 4-7 on the season and fall to Austin High School in the Bi-District Round…
Meanwhile, in week six, The Hanks Knights took on the Parkland Matadors and El Paso’s All Time Leading Rusher, Deion Hankins on a rare rainy night in the borderland. The task was another monumental climb for Hanks, but the Knights took on the challenge once again, however, the Hankins lead Matadors imposed their will as the game wore on with a heavy dose of Deion and the Parkland running game. Hankins amassed 5 total TD’s and 295 yard on the ground as The Park was rocking when the final score showed their Matadors win, 56-28. Hanks gave up 113 points in back to back games, but were able to salvage the season by winning their final two games to get into the playoffs where they would lose to Andress 33-12.
Homecoming week in Week 7 for the Del Valle Conquistadores saw the home team take on Eastwood. The Troopers coming a long way from the 1-3 start to the season, entering the game at 3-3, Del Valle’s lone loss coming to a Tuscan Team in the first game of the season. Del Valle and Raymond Montes took a 21-10 lead in the half, but the long Homecoming festivities squelched the Conquistadores momentum and lead by Junior QB, Christian Castaneda, Eastwood was able to comeback and win the game 32-21. Senior RB, Noah Rios and Senior WR, Eddie Cruz put up over 100 yards each and Castaneda was responsible for 3 total TD’s, one on the ground, two through the air. Eastwood would go one to win the District with a 5-0 record, but lose to Abilene Cooper in the Bi-District Round.
Week 8 pitted the Horizon Scorpions and the Parkland Matadors, Deion Hankins continued his climb up the record books and Parkland continued their winning ways, remaining undefeated improving to 7-0-1. Parkland established their dominance over the scorpions early and Hankins 305 yards and 2 TD’s helped pace the way for the Matadors 62-20 win.
5-3 Brownfield traveled 6 hours west to face off vs 0-9 Tornillo in Coyote Stadium. A change from the norm, but a treat none the less. Witnessing the difference in styles, support and coaching was a real pleasure. The Brownfield Bears would win the game 54-0 over a very undermanned Tornillo team. However the heart showed by Tornillo play after play and none of the players hanging their heads spoke volumes to the coaching they received. The support from the home crowd was astounding too, and shows when the entire community is invested, wins and losses don’t matter.
The final week of the regular season was a treat to watch. The Franklin Cougars faced off vs the Socorro Bulldogs in the SAC, and Del Valle and Chapin were fighting for 2nd place and a home game in the Bi-District Round. Franklin handled Socorro 70-33, proving to be a well oiled machine as the playoffs approached. An impressive game all around by the Cougs and a dominating performance. However, the Bulldogs undermanned, brought up players from JV to make a roster, showed fight. Coach Graham and company did an amazing job coaching a winless team, but the promise they showed not only in that game, but throughout the season, will pay dividends for the Bulldogs in the end. Yet, this night was all about Franklin and their win propelled them into the playoffs as District Champs.
Del Valle and Chapin, 2nd place on the line, home-field in the Bi-District Round… another big win for Raymond Montes and crew. defeated the Huskies 48-13. Both teams made the playoffs, but the Huskies lost their Bi-District round game to Lubbock Coronado 35-17 on the road. Chapin finished the season 4-7.
However, Del Valle was rewarded from their big win with a home playoff game vs. the Amarillo Sandies. Amarillo went into Conquest Stadium and the Conquistadores held their home field to a 21-10 win. Raymond Montes responsible for all three TD’s 1 on the ground, two through the air. Both passing TD’s landing in the hands not of stud WR, Karch Gardiner or Cauy Oropeza, but in the hands of Danny Cortez who had a huge game, 6 receptions for 104 yards and 2 TDs.
This week I was front and center in Fort Stockton’s beautiful Panther Stadium, along with my broadcast partner, Mark Mens for our final game of the year, a 45-0 loss as Lubbock Cooper took down the Austin Panthers (El Paso). Cooper was the better team this day, however inspiring was the performance and never give up attitude of the Austin Panthers. Even down big, the sideline was supportive, clapping communicating, hugging and even keeping every single helmet on. A sign of respect to the other team and themselves. Austin finished the season 9-3, a far cry from the 25 game losing streak of a few years ago.
From close games to blowouts, or watching Rivals work together to make a dream come true for one player who stole the hearts of El Paso, it didn’t’t matter if it was Andress High School or the SAC, Del Valle or Hanks or even Tornillo or Fort Stockton, El Paso teams not only represented the city well, but set records. From Montes to Hankins, the city was the talk of Texas, watching carefully as El Paso High School Football continues to evolve. The Coaching staffs of each team in the city should be congratulated no matter the record, because they are setting these kids up for a game much bigger than football, the game of life. With what they learn, with the way they conduct themselves on and off the field, these young people have nothing to be ashamed of, yet should be proud of their accomplishments. Winless or undefeated, they have once again won the hearts of their alumni and will etch their names in the history of El Paso High School Football as we continue to fight our geographic and economic disadvantages. Thank you El Paso High School Football, You made this season simply Phenomenal.