The El Paso Andress Eagles have rolled through their competition in recent weeks in District 1-5A play. The playoffs proved to be a different story, as the Eagles had to hold off a tough Bel Air squad last Thursday en route to their first playoff win in three seasons.
As the Eagles prepare for Friday night’s game against Lubbock Monterey in Midland, head coach Jeff Woodruff knows his team has to be better if they want to keep playing after Thanksgiving weekend.
“Every week has its new challenges but I felt like we didn’t come out with a lot of energy or emotion,” Woodruff said, “It’s hard to win when you don’t have those things and we’ll need to bring our A-game this week against a big, talented Monterey team.”
His players also share that same sentiment.
“We just came out flat,” said sophomore running back Dorian Lewis, “Props to Bel Air, they’re a great team. But we need to be better.”
The Eagles know they will have their toughest task to date against the Plainsmen, who enter Friday’s game that’s won six of their last seven games after a 1-3 start to the season. Part of that was the tough non-district schedule they played which included games against Stephenville, Abilene Wylie and Midland Lee.
That said, Monterey head coach Wayne Hutchinson says that his team has grown with more confidence over the last several weeks.
“We’ve played a lot of really good teams and we’ve played well, but we just couldn’t get over the hump early on in the season,” Hutchinson said, “Our kids have just kept getting better and I feel like we’ve peaked at the right time.”
A big key to their team’s success lies with their senior quarterback Brylon Lawson-Young. After splitting time with then-senior Jaron Jones a year ago, Lawson-Young has taken control of the team and has also become more of a dual-threat, compiling 2,490 total yards and 29 total touchdowns in 2017.
“He’s turned into a powerful runner and he’s developed as a thrower,” Hutchinson said of his quarterback, “Honestly, I think he’s improved all-around. He’s also a quiet leader by just doing things right.”
Lawson-Young also stands at 6-3, 215 pounds and the Eagles know that their success will be hinged on how well they can contain him.
“He’s as big and strong as any running back we’ve seen, maybe even bigger,” Woodruff said, “We’ll have our hands full with him and we’ve got to really be technically sound and play with a lot of energy.”
“They’re the best team we’ve played all year,” said wide receiver/cornerback Tre Maestas, “They’ve got size and it should be a fun matchup.”
The Eagles will counter with a strong running game that includes the aforementioned Lewis (1,313 yards, 15 TDs) and junior Jalen Joseph. The Plainsmen will counter with two sophomores of their own in Ty Williams (334 yards, 2 TDs) and Damontrareis Lacy (792 yards, 7 TDs).
On paper, it will be a tough, physical battle between the two sides. And after the near scare from last week, the Eagles are motivated to bounce back and focus on the task ahead.
“We just need to come out with fight and show that Northeast pride,” Lewis said, “Like Coach Woodruff said, they’re big but we have heart and we’re going to play hard for four quarters.”
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