Some would consider last year one of the tightest races for the playoffs between 5A and 6A schools in El Paso. However, after two weeks, this year looks to be as much, and possibly even more competitive. Here are some of the top five things we learned in El Paso football last week going into week three:
1. Montwood is for real
With a notable roster coming into the season, there wasn’t too much debate on whether or not Montwood should be ranked atop the El Paso 6A class. That said, there weren’t as many predicting a 2-0 start for the Rams after facing out-of-town competition.
They soared past a Wolfforth Frenship team at home, 70-14 and then went out and beat Midland High 58-53 in a shootout on the road.This team seems to be flying on all cylinders.
Quarterback Andrew Fernandez looks sharp, already ranking No. 1 and No. 10 among all Texas 6A quarterbacks in touchdowns and passing yards, respectively, per Max Preps. He’s totaled 11 touchdowns, eight of which came against Midland, and accumulated 543 passing yards.
It might not be too early for the Rams to start thinking down the line for their schedule. They have back-to-back easier games—Burges and Socorro—to close out September. October presents a challenging slate of district opponents including El Dorado on Oct. 6, Franklin the following week and Americas on Oct. 27. If the Rams can end that stretch 8-0 by the end, the Rams could certainly be thinking higher in 2017.
2. Eastwood has guns loaded
The Eastwood Troopers have five players who have totalled 120 all-purpose yards or better this year. Moreover, they have eight players who have scored a touchdown through two games.This is a team who likes to score and likes to score quick.
They came from behind and nearly pulled off a comeback win over Midland Christian, who led 21-0 early in Week 1 before falling 41-31. The Troopers bounced back the following week and stomped on Bel Air 67-21.
The jump from week one to week two was impressive, but it’s also obvious head coach Julio Lopez won’t stop there.
The Troopers take on Odessa Permian—who rolled over Franklin last week 42-14—before taking on El Dorado in the district opener at the end of the month. These games could be an early indicator to see where Eastwood stands. If they can end the month of September 3-1, the Troopers might be a defiant force in 6A.
3. Hankins needs a back brace
New season, same Deion Hankins. The workhorse running back from Parkland has already been running all over defenses.This is the same running back who, as a sophomore, rushed for 2,812 yards and had 28 touchdowns. He’s already received offers from the likes of Utah, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and UTEP.
Against two lower tier teams this season, Hankins showcased his ability to run and take over the game. He rushed for three touchdowns and racked up 236 rushing yards in the Matadors’ 55-14 win over Jefferson in the first week. Hankins kept it consistent during the following week as he rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns in a win over Socorro.
The Matadors are off to a solid 2-0 start this season. However, the team will be heavily tested this week, taking on Eastlake.Regardless of wins and losses, Hankins’ junior year seems promising and he will easily rise among the best of the city.
4. Watch out for Pebble Hills
Nearly every media outlet in El Paso had the Andress Eagles upending the Pebble Hills Spartans last week. However, this team came out and dazzled on both sides.
Pebble Hill’s Michael Christmas took a wild 70-yard interception off the Andress quarterback for a touchdown to spark the game at the beginning. Then, running back Caleb Gerber rushed for a touchdown right before the half ended. It was close at the half, but then the Spartans would take over.
The second half featured a clutch fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Spartans and an onside kick recovered off the next kickoff. It was over, Pebble Hills had completely taken over and dominated Andress 34-13.
This week Pebble Hills will face another interesting test against top 5A team Chapin. Last week the Huskies beat Eastlake 28-14, and Chapin’s offensive attack through the air looks sharp. With a win over Chapin this week, the Pebble Hills-Franklin game will be one to look out for.
5. The two Class 5A Districts are truly up for grabs
Even though it’s only the third week, there has been definitely a lot of similarities between the 5A teams, which shows that the race to not just the playoffs, but the division title will be intense.
Parkland, Chapin and Canutillo have all emerged undefeated at 2-0 in the division so far, but Eastlake, Andress and Del Valle shouldn’t be judged lightly with a 1-1 record. Also, Burges and Bowie are both 2-0 as well and could be who might be in the mix later in the season. Even though Bel Air is 0-2, they show some great glimpses of improvement, and could even be the dark horse team of the division.
Eastlake-Parkland this week, Canutillo-El Paso Del Valle on Sept. 29, Del Valle-Parkland Oct. 7 Eastlake-Del Valle on Oct. 20 and Chapin-Andress Nov. 10 are all games that could decide the fate of these teams in Districts 1-5A and 2-5A.
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