After a back-and-forth game last year that resulted in a 35-27 win for Andress, Pebble Hills and Andress will square off in an early 5A matchup at the SAC on Thursday evening in El Paso, which could factor importantly into this 5A season.
Both teams enter Thursday’s game with a win in the first week, but each team has vastly different looks and storylines.
The Andress Eagles (1-0) enter Thursday’s game after a resounding 65-10 win over fellow 5A opponent Hanks.
Head coach Jeff Woodruff takes to mind the improvement his team needs to make from the first week to the second in order to win against Pebble Hills.
“We have to play very sound football,” Woodruff said. “We have to play better than week one as far as mechanics go. I don’t know a coach who’s satisfied with their first week of play.”
Standout quarterback Dominique Smith completed 16-of-21 passes and threw five touchdowns in the Eagles’ victory last week. He also led the team with 84 rushing yards.
Nonetheless, he will be a definite threat to Pebble Hills Spartan’s head coach Mark Torres’ defense.
“I appreciate their play at quarterback,” Torres said. “He’ll put them in a position for them to win. He likes to spread the ball and play through the air, and he also can tuck it in and hurt us on the ground.”
Smith was able to connect multiple times with his seemingly favorite target, junior wideout Diego Lewis. The quarterback-receiver duo resulted in 118 total receiving yards in the game for Lewis, including a long 78-yard touchdown.
“They connect well and we’re trying to keep that going,” Woodruff said.
The team finished week one with nine total touchdowns. They can be expected to try to score quick and fast against Pebble Hills.
On the other side, however, Torres says his team will not be relying on the explosive plays to beat Andress.
“We need to sustain drives and execute plays,” Torres said. “They have a talented defense. We aren’t going to rely on big plays to beat them.”
The Spartans (1-0) are coming into Thursday’s game in a similar situation as Andress. They rolled over Irvin last week 55-7, scoring eight touchdowns during the game.
“We saw exactly what we wanted to see,” Torres said. “We wanted to wear them out through the first half and we accomplished that. Our offensive starters showed some good things and our defense played all the way through.”
However, they are a completely different team than Andress.
While the Eagles got the most by Smith’s play at quarterback, the Spartans showed they can attack offensively both through the air and on the ground.
Last week, running back Caleb Gerber emerged for the Spartans as a definite threat, as he recorded 123 yards of rushing and tallied two touchdowns. While the 5-foot-7 back may look small to some, he brings an agile and elusive talent to the offense and return teams.
Quarterback Orlando Puig also showed some impressive play for the Spartans against Irvin. The senior completed 12-of-14 passes for 155 yards and three touchdowns.
This is a balanced offensive scheme similar to that of when Torres coached as an offensive coordinator at Franklin high school. There he tried to split the plays between passing and rushing in order to give the defense a plethora of different looks.
This attack is something Pebble Hills is trying to get at.
“We’re a better team now and more balanced,” Torres said. “You have to see what the defense shows you and adjust based off that. You have to do what it takes to win. Back at Franklin we had great quarterbacks and outstanding running backs. We’re trying to get to that point.”
Woodruff understands the Spartans ambitious rise since its existence and plans for a close matchup.
“They’ve been established for a few years now,” he said. “They’re becoming one of the biggest schools in El Paso. They have the numbers. Every kid wants to go out there. This team has talent and depth.”
Kickoff between the two is slated for 7 p.m. M.T. at the SAC.
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