EL PASO- It’s a battle of brothers and rivals on Thursday night in El Paso as Pebble Hills faces (8-1, 5-1) off against El Dorado (6-3, 5-1) Thursday night at the Socorro ISD Student Activities Complex. The winner finishes in second place in District 1-6A and both teams are playoff bound. That said, there’s still a lot to play for on both sides. The head coaches, Mark (Pebble Hills) and Ruben (El Dorado) are brothers.
Pebble Hills is looking to bounce back after losing their first game of the season last Friday night to the Montwood Rams. Mark Torres is confident in his team’s ability to bounce back from adversity.
“Our kids have heart and character,” Mark Torres said,” The wheels could have easily fallen off in the third quarter after turning the ball over. I was really proud that that didn’t happen to us.”
The Spartans are already locked into their playoff matchup, as they will travel on the road to play San Angelo Central next Friday night. That said, Torres knows that they will be in for a big challenge on Thursday night.
He’s also looking forward to facing his brother on the sideline for the second time ever as a head coach. The two teams met at the end of the season last year with El Dorado winning 63-32. Even though they’ll be on opposite sidelines, both brothers are taking this as business as usual.
“We’ve gone up against each other as assistant coaches and coordinators, but I never thought we would do it as head coaches too,” the Pebble Hills coach said, “We’ve talked a little bit about each other’s teams and we don’t view it as going up against each other. We’re brothers first.”
“We talk to each other every day,” Ruben Torres said, “We even had dinner together on Sunday and watched the Cowboys game. But at the end of the day, we’re each other’s biggest fan and that’s what makes it hard about playing this game. It’s also about the kids and not us. I’m very proud of what he’s accomplished at Pebble Hills so far.”
Just down the road on the Far East Side of El Paso, El Dorado has rallied to win five of their last six games after a 1-2 start. The Aztecs have faced off with some tough competition early, but Ruben Torres believes its prepared them well for this season.
“I think the kids just got settled in,” Torres said, “After the Montwood game, we’ve treated every game as a playoff game and that mentality has made the kids coming out fighting. I think they felt like they were written off early in the year and got a chip on their shoulder based on that.”
The Aztecs will have dynamic playmaker in quarterback Cedarious Barfield, who has continued to put up strong numbers as he did a year ago. The San Diego State commit said that his team has settled in after the 1-2 start.
“At the beginning of the year, I feel like there were guys who didn’t know what their roles were,” Barfield said, “Now I feel like that we’re rolling ahead and getting ready to play strong in this last game heading into the postseason.”
Mark Torres knows the challenge of containing a player like Barfield.
“I don’t know how you stop a player like that,” Torres said of Barfield, “He is who he is and he’s making more plays than he did last year. Instead of taking off and running if his first read wasn’t there, he’s become a more complete playmaker. The offense is also different from last year for them so we have to focus on that before focusing on a player like Cedarious.”
There is also the extra motivation of being in familiar company. Before Pebble Hills opened, the current campus was the 9th grade center for El Dorado. Once Pebble Hills officially opened in 2014, students were given a choice to transfer to El Dorado or stay and become Spartans. Now in their second varsity season, it’s a game that has players like Barfield amped up to finish strong heading into the postseason.
“This game is for bragging rights,” Barfield said, “We’re all just very excited for this game and we’re ready to play and face off against each other.”
The two teams meet on the field on Thursday at 7 p.m. MST at the SAC.
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