The Cowboy Nation invaded historic Jones Stadium at La High as players and coaches from America’s Team spent the day showing 300 EPISD athletes the successful techniques they use on the football field and in life.
The clinic gave 30 students from each of EPISD’s traditional high schools the chance to meet Cowboy coaching staff and defensive back Byron Jones while honing their skills and tackling new drills.
“Football is such a great game and opportunity and platform to teach the next generation about character development, discipline and teamwork,” said Hunter Harvin, Dallas Cowboys’ manager of corporate partnerships. “Byron wants to talk about his mentality and how he approached the game through high school, college and, then ultimately, now realizing a dream in the NFL.”
This is the second year the Cowboys make their way to EPISD for the camp, which is sponsored by the Texas Lottery.
“I think it’s a great opportunity to come out to Cowboys Country out here in El Paso and show a little bit of love to some of the students who are our fans and supporters,” Harvin said.
Last year, the clinic gave athletes a condensed training experience. This year, the clinic offered more comprehensive skill-building sessions that are specific to each player’s position.
“We got a lot of potential with kids that want to play football beyond the high school level,” said Maria Kennedy, EPISD athletic director. “They may not play D-1 (Division I) football, but you there’s somewhere, someplace for all of these kids to go if they really want to play football at the college level.”
Irvin High freshman and Cowboy fan Ivan Rosales stood on the sidelines watching his fellow teammates get some action on the field. The camp left him knowing how much faster and challenging the pros train.
“This is a great opportunity to get better and to learn new stuff,” he said. “I know I will get better. That’s for sure.”
El Paso High’s Santiago Candelaria already feels improvement in his game after only a short time on the field. He’s taken note about on keeping an eye on the hips and shoulders of opponents during plays instead of their eyes.
“Having the pros out here is really cool because they know everything about the game,” Candelaria said. “We get to learn from the pros and we get to learn from the managers and from everyone else that helps the team become a team.”
The Cowboy camp also has led Candelaria to start thinking about possibly playing college ball.
“It’s just been a great opportunity for everyone,” he said. “We get to make new friends and meet new and share ideas. I’ve learned a lot of things already.”
The El Paso High Tigers found themselves in an early deficit against the Hanks Knights falling short of a comeback, dropping their first home game of the season on Friday with a score of 36-28.
“We made way too many mistakes. Can’t point fingers, we all learn to correct those mistakes,” running back and defensive back, Shane Rodriguez said. We lost some guys to injury, but that can’t be an excuse, we have to bounce back.”
The visiting Knights got off to a fast start, scoring 16 unanswered points against the Tigers. Hanks quarterback Austin Guerrero, found Ever Chaves wide open for a 80-yard touchdown.
The Tigers answered with a score of their own, after Shane Rodriguez punched it in from 5-yards out. The Tigers added a 2-point conversion, cutting the Hanks lead by half.
It was then that the Knights went on to score 17 more points, extending their lead to a halftime score of 33-8.
“The first half I don’t think we were mentally ready, we had a lot of penalties in crucial situations and we’re turning the ball over,” head coach Robert Morales said. “We weren’t focused on defense and making tackles…second half, they played much better.”
The Tigers found the end zone once again late in the third quarter, when Shane Rodriguez scored on a 4-yard run to begin their comeback attempt.
After a Hanks field goal, the Tigers would again find the end zone early in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Anthony Escobedo ran it in from 23-yards out, cutting the Hanks lead to 14.
The Tigers failed to convert on a 4th down attempt late in the fourth quarter, giving the ball back to Hanks; but still managed to come within one possession of tying the game.
The Tigers dropped to 1-1 and will host San Eli next Friday in Jones Stadium.
“We didn’t capitalize on the opportunities, we had the ball like five times inside the red zone, that really kicked us in the butt,” Escobedo said. “We just have to have great practices and focus, no messing around, make sure everyone is on top of it and we’ll be fine.”