First on the preview list for the Greater El Paso Football showcase is the Thunder squad, comprised of a plethora of talent throughout the city. From speed-driven quarterbacks, to talented and explosive wideouts, this team can score points and likes to do so in fashion.
Here are the players to look out for on the Thunder
Cedarious Barfield – El Dorado
What else is there to say about standout dual-threat quarterback Cedarious Barfield? He led the El Dorado Aztecs to a mid-season resurgence, won six of their last seven games and helped his team earn a share of the district title. Although the team earned home field advantage for the first round of the playoffs, Barfield left the game early against Midland Lee with an injury. Without Barfield, El Dorado fell 63-0.
He threw for 2,220 yards, had 1,668 rushing yards and 51 total touchdowns. This will be his final outing in El Paso as he will venture to San Diego State to play defensive back at the Division I level.
Anthony Baird – Chapin
Leading his troops to an 8-3 overall record and a second-place finish in District 1-5A, Anthony Baird was a threat that the Chapin Huskies will miss at the quarterback spot. He put up impressive numbers, throwing for 2,640 yards, rushing for 542 and accumulating 33 passing touchdowns.
What is one of the most impressive things about Baird is his passing efficiency. He completed 150-of-207 pass attempts, which put him at a 73 percent completion rating. This man also was minimal in mistakes, throwing just three interceptions during the regular season.
Ezekiel Jones – Eastlake
Being a spread offense type of team is always hard to incorporate a running back into the system. However, Eastlake was able to give looks to standout running back Ezekiel Jones not only on the ground, but also through the air. Jones rushed for 973 yards on the year with 14 rushing touchdowns, and caught passes for 558 yards and contributed with six touchdowns through the air.
Currently, no team has offered Jones, but any DII or DIII school would gain an explosive player if they chose to invest in him.
Alejandro Cabral – Austin
Helping his Austin Panthers in its rebuilding phase under new head coach Eric Pichardo, Alejandro Cabral was a big help for the team, as they went 4-6 this season and looked sharper than years past.
Cabral led the team with 1,123 total rushing yards this season, averaging 9.6 yards a carry. He has paved the way for Pichardo’s new offense with the Panthers. In a couple years, this could be a program to watch out for.
Tyreese Andrus – Montwood
Year after year El Paso sees some really impressive talents at the receiver position who go on to lead successful college tenures. We’ve seen the likes of Rashad Still from Andress (Minnasota), Warren Redix from Montwood (UTEP), Eddie Sinegal from Andress (UTEP) and Tyquez Hampton of El Dorado (Utah) come through the city and make a name for themselves at the high school level, which then translates to the college level.
Down the line, we may talk about Tyreese Andrus, the Montwood standout receiver, in the same category as these past receivers. Along with his quarterback Andrew Fernandez, Andrus was able to help his team earn a share of the district championship and took the bi-district championship, with a win over Midland High in the first round of the playoffs.
Andrus totaled 1,590 receiving yards off 66 catches this season with 22 receiving touchdowns.
Jose Luis Herrera – Coronado
Jose Luis Herrera is a complete all-around athlete, and he truly embodied it in his time with the Thunderbirds. He might be one of the few in Texas with over 100 yards of passing, 100 yards of rushing, 100 yards of receiving, 100 yards of punt returns and 100 yards of kickoff returns—not to mention having a touchdown in each of those categories.
This man played just about any position that needed him. When he was a running back, he rushed for 319 total yards with nine touchdowns. As a receiver he had 766 total yards and four touchdowns. When he was called to fill in at quarterback, he threw for 190 yards and a touchdown. And, when he was asked to be a punt and kick returners, he totaled 1,082 yards. Herrera finished the season with 2,113 total yards of offense.
No doubt we’ll see him in the end zone come Saturday.
X-Factor to watch
Emilio Rios – Eastlake (Slot/TE/WR)
Emilio Rios was Eastlake’s dark horse candidate at receiver, catching 29 passes for 702 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. He can kill you when you least expect it with his speed and agility.
If this guy is coming down the middle, expect Barfield to take a shot deep with him and maybe connect for a big touchdown.
Alvaro Hernandez – Del Valle
Towering as one of the tallest tackles on Del Valle at 6-foot-2, Alvaro Hernandez packs both speed and strength into his play at the tackle spot. He played each game this year and helped his running back core earn 193.4 yards per game on the ground.
Juan Ruvalcaba – Franklin
Not many teams get to see a defensive lineman that can run as fast as Juan Ruvalcaba, as well as pack the strength to go along with it. Ruvalcaba was second on Franklin’s team with 81 total tackles, had three sacks this season, three hurries and four tackles for losses.
Jamari Bullock – Eastwood
If there is one defensive lineman that likes to swarm wherever the ball may be, it’s Jamari Bullock. He led the Troopers with an exceptional 18.0 tackles for losses this season with 71 total tackles. He also added six sacks this season and 20 quarterback hurries. Quarterbacks Andrew Fernandez and AJ Briggs on the opposite team will have to keep an eye out for this guy.
Kevin Esquivel – Pebble Hills
Kevin Esquivel is one of the best commanding linebackers in the city, and on Saturday he will put to show his talents that he showed week after week this season. He finished the season with 110 total tackles, four sacks, an interception, three forced fumbles and 15 quarterback hurries.
Ricardo Valles – Bowie
Being apart of a team that was heavily injured as Bowie was throughout the season, an athlete like Ricardo Valles was called to play both ways for the Bears. On offense he took a significant amount of handoffs per game, and on defense he was asked to be the leader of the Bears.
He finished his senior season with 92 total tackles and 14 tackles for losses on the defensive side. He might be one of the few in town to have a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a field goal block.
Kaleb Gutierrez –Franklin
The Storm got a playmaker when they decided to draft linebacker Kaleb Gutierrez. This season, Gutierrez was sharp on the run-stop and made big plays when the team needed it. He finished his senior campaign with a team-high 87 total tackles and 64 solo stops. Gutierrez also likes to rush the quarterback, as he finished with seven quarterback hurries and two sacks. Biggest stat that Gutierrez brings to the turnover margin is the fact that he has caused six fumbles, taken two interceptions and deflected six passes this year.
Isaac Ybarra – Bel Air
The all-around man of Isaac Ybarra could not miss this all-star game no matter what. He was one of the top gunslingers in 2-5A, but he is also sharp at the defensive back position, due to his knowledge of quarterbacks.
He may not have all the numbers to back him up, but whenever he was put in the game, Ybarra was a pass breaker and a play maker.
William Croslen – El Dorado
The Aztecs finished the fall season as one of the most improved defenses in the city, and defensive back William Croslen was a main contributing factor to that. Croslen was all over the place defensively, swarming tackles that came off runs and passes. He led the Aztecs with 102 total tackles this year and chipped in with two pass deflections and an interception.
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