Photo via Mark Lambie, El Paso Times

In El Paso, there are programs that are consistent winners and that always seem to be in the mix for district titles and more. One of those programs is located on the Northeast side of town and after winning a share of the District 1-5A title in 2016, the Andress Eagles are feeling confident that 2017 could have even bigger things in store given the time they have to prepare.

“We had a full year,” said head coach Jeff Woodruff, “We were able to have spring ball and a full offseason and we as coaches also had an opportunity to expand the playbook with our team and they stepped up.”

Woodruff is entering his third season with Andress and is pleased with the progress his team has made, especially considering how young many of his key playmakers were. But, Woodruff isn’t as concerned with the overall record as opposed to making sure his team is ready to play.

“Winning is the outcome of what we do,” Woodruff said, “It doesn’t matter if you’re playing the Bowie Bears or the Dallas Cowboys.”

2016 got off to a tough start for the Eagles as they lost their projected starting quarterback who moved before the season started and lost their Game 1 starter in Will Frilot to a season-ending injury. By game two, the Eagles were down to their third quarterback in sophomore Dominique Smith. Thanks to Smith and contributions from other young talent, the Eagles didn’t miss a beat.

“Dominique was able to step in and wasn’t fazed by the pressure,” Woodruff said of his sophomore quarterback, “He just continued to get better and better.”

That momentum came to a halt when the Eagles hosted the Bowie Bears on the last day of September. It was an important game, but one that the Eagles were expected to win. Thanks to an interception at the end of the game, the Bears pulled out a 24-19 win that gave them their first win over Andress in 22 years. The loss was disappointing and it also marked a turning point in their season.

“I think we came out a little overconfident in that Bowie game,” said wide receiver Diego Lewis, “After the loss, the team was crushed and we just realized that we didn’t want to feel like this again.”

“After we lost that first game to Bowie, it actually brought us closer together as a team,” said offensive lineman Brett Wydra, “We started seeing more teamwork and guys coming together to do well.”

The team stepping up was evident by how they played as the Eagles won their last five games of the regular season. That streak was capped off with a victory over their fellow Northeast rival Chapin to give them a share of the district title. It capped off a shift in the team that saw everyone put in the work they needed to get the job done.

“That game really meant a lot,” said offensive lineman Solomon Polk, “We’re both two really good teams and for us to beat them meant a lot especially winning a share of district.”

The Eagles’ season ended the following week with a loss to El Paso Eastlake in the bi-district round, but there was enough there to show that they’re not slowing down anytime soon. The Eagles bring back six starters on defense and seven on offense, including a couple players on the team who started as freshman.

“We’re trying to get faster from where we were a year ago,” Woodruff said, “I think we’re going to have more kids out for football which helps and we’ll be stronger. We’ll just have to see how we gel as a football team.”

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