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Story in Many Pics: El Dorado Survives Pebble Hills Comeback 49-44

In a battle between two of SISD’s – and the Borderland’s – top football teams, Pebble Hills and El Dorado, 4 quarters of football action was just enough to settle the newfound rivalry.

The game, which was a barn-burner for the second half featured a remarkable comeback by the Spartans that was cut short by the play of the Aztecs.

Our very own Andres Acosta was there, and brings you his view of the game in this ‘Story in Many Pics.’

Pebble Hills vs El Dorado

Spartans Continue to Roll with a 31-14 Victory Over No.2 Chapin

On a night featuring two unbeaten teams, the Pebble Hills Spartans took another positive step forward defeating the No. 2 Chapin Huskies 31-14 at Tony Shaw Field.

Chapin’s senior quarterback, Anthony Baird, who was expected to continue his stellar performance; leading his team in both rushing yards and passing yards, which were on average 93 yards more than Pebble Hills, was shut down.

The Spartan defense defied the statistics, holding the Huskies offense to zero points the entire first and fourth quarter.

The Spartans started the game off strong, gaining yards on every play of their first offensive drive. Orlando Puig came in clutch late in the drive, completing an 11-yard pass on a fourth down conversion to his favorite target of the season, Haredt Gonzalez, who helped put the team in the red zone.

The Spartans struck first via a 5-yard run by junior running back Caleb Gerber.

The defense for the Spartans showed their dominance early by forcing the Huskies to turn the ball over twice, and not allowing the Huskies to put points on the board.

Senior Juan Santiago made a big play on fourth down when he sacked Baird; causing a turnover on downs. The momentum was in favor of the road team, and they looked to capitalize early.

The Spartans continued to maintain control of the game, scoring a 9-yard field goal on their first offensive drive of the second quarter, making it 10-0.

The Huskies defense made their first statement of the game when they intercepted the ball during the second quarter. They would capitalize soon after by completing a 15-yard touchdown pass on the first play after the interception, bringing the score to 10-7.

After a series of questionable calls and penalties that were called on the Spartan defense, senior Kevin Esquivel turned the tide.

Esquivel recovered a fumble on the 20-yard line in Spartan territory and ran it all way back to the house, bringing the score to 17-7.

“It put us further up in the score and made us want to push harder,”  Esquivel said.

The crowd went wild and coach Cortez even mentioned that the Huskies messed with the wrong team.

But the momentum didn’t stop there, as corner Jailyn Spires made an impressive interception on the Huskies first offensive play after the fumble late in the first half.

“It gave everybody a lot of energy,” Spires said. “We have been working too hard for this. We came in thinking we were going to win, but keep it humble and let them do the talking.”

The Spartans kept the ball rolling in the second half, forcing the Huskies to punt on the first offensive drive of the half.  Puig then connected with Justin Wolfe via a 9-yard touchdown pass, making it 24-7.

The Huskies were able to score soon after on a 25 yard touchdown pass, making it a two possession game at 24-14.

However, the Huskies defense was not capable of stopping the motivated Spartans, allowing Christopher Beanes to score a 2-yard touchdown, making it 31-14. The Spartans then added a cherry on top of t when they recovered an onside kick, allowing them to run down the clock and defeat the Huskies, 31-14.

The Spartans (3-0) are on a hot streak and want to continue to improve on both sides of the ball as they enter their bye week.  That extra week of preparation comes ahead of a showdown with the Franklin Cougars to the SISD Student Activities Complex Sept. 29 at 4:00p. m.

By Matthew Thomas – Special to the Herald-Post

Spartans Make Bold Statement with Win Over Andress 34-13

The Spartans entered week two with extra motivation, after predictions of an eight point loss at quickly vanished as they dominated the Andress Eagles 34-13 at the SISD Student Activities Complex (SAC) Thursday night.

Additionally, for the first time in school history, the Pebble Hills Spartans won back-to-back games, both in convincing fashion.

In a defensive statement, the Spartans were able to ground the Eagles; only allowing them six points the entire second half.  Andress previously scored 65 points versus Hanks in week one.

The game opened in favor of the Eagles, when Jalen Jospeh scored on a 3-yard run in the first quarter. Pebble Hills then answered by scoring a miraculous touchdown via pass from Orlando Puig that was intended for Kevin Averette, but was tipped and caught by Haredt Gonzalez, tying the game at 7-7.

Junior running back Caleb Gerber gave the Spartans the first lead via a 2-yard run before the end of the first half.

After turning the ball over three consecutive times to start the second half, head coach Mark Torres assured his team that they would do better if they worked together.

“It was just a lack of focus or they were just trying to do too much,” Torres said. “We addressed that as coaches.” Torres mentioned to his players that they had to be better teammates.

Senior Anthony Sapien recovered a fumble and ran it all the way back to score his first touchdown of the year; extending the lead, 28-13.

“We just came together as a team,” Anthony Sapien said. “We learned we have the chemistry together, we counted on another and we never gave up.”

With the Spartan’s defense improving on each down, the Eagles failed put forth a successful drive. Senior Kevin Esquivel made a statement for the entire defense, when he recorded a sack on fourth down; putting the Spartans in scoring position.

Puig and Gonzalez then connected on touchdown to put the Spartans up, 34-13.

The Spartans (2-0) open up the road portion of their schedule in a non-conference game against the Chapin Huskies Friday September 15 at 7 p.m.

Authors:  Ariel Castillo and Matthew Thomas – Pebble Hills High Reporters/Special to the Herald-Post

Pebble Hills High Student Surprised by Army Dad’s Homecoming

When Sebastian Valdez, a freshman baseball player at Pebble Hills High School, took the head off of the school’s mascot at a student assembly, he received the surprise of his life: in the costume was his dad, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Arturo Valdez, who Sebastian hadn’t seen in three years.

The two were reunited at an elaborate surprise homecoming reunion in the gymnasium, planned by the Pebble Hills High School administration. Students were asked to go to the gym to kick off the school’s Importance of Character campaign.

A representative of every Sparta sport (Sebastian was the freshman baseball representative), was asked to come down to the floor. Each athlete took individual pictures with the Sparta mascot, Leonidas. Sebastian was last and was asked to help the overheated mascot take off the head of the costume.

“I didn’t have any idea,” Sebastian said. “When I took off his head, I still didn’t know who it was. But then he stood up straight and I just lost it. For him to surprise me like that, it seems like a dream.”

The two hugged each other and said “I love you” over and over again through tears. They were quickly surrounded by family — mom, siblings, grandparents and wife — who were all hiding until the surprise reunion.

“He was about shoulder height when I last saw him,” Arturo said. “But now he has passed me. I left when he was in elementary school in the fifth grade. He’s in high school now. Wow!”

Arturo Valdez was stationed in Naples, Italy for more than three years. Logistics and age made it difficult for Sebastian to visit his father.

“I wanted to surprise him,” Arturo said. “It was so heartwarming. He means the world to me. He has always been a big supporter of what I do.”

Both laughed when they talked about the minutes before the reunion. Arturo found it very difficult to not take the costume off and grab his son during the time he was performing. Sebastian wondered by the mascot kept wanting to touch his hair.

“I kept thinking this is weird,” Sebastian said. “Why is he picking on me?”

“When I was in the costume, I couldn’t leave his side,” Arturo said. “I wanted to hug him so bad. Here was my son and I had to wait.”

The Valdez family was lavished with many gifts thanks to radio station Power 102, KFOX (Channel 14), KDBC (Channel 4), the El Paso Chihuahuas and lawyer Michael Gopin. They were given gift cards, restaurant cards, Chihuahua shirts, caps, gloves and other memorabilia and a free night at the Chihuahuas baseball game, where Arturo will throw out the first ball.

Mark Torres, athletic director and head football coach, said he was close to tears. As a father, he couldn’t imagine not seeing his child for so long.

“How could I not cry,” he said. “Sometimes I am just gone for a few days and I miss my kids so much. What an incredible sacrifice this family, who is serving our country, has made. It makes what I do small potatoes.”

Melissa Parham, the principal of Pebble Hills, said it was the most emotional moment she has had as an educator. She is amazed at Sebastian’s strength.

“He didn’t have his dad for three years,” she said. “How blessed are we to have our family with us all the time. He’s an amazing young man. He has a real strong character, he is very smart and a great kid. It was a beautiful morning.”

For Sebastian and Arturo, a Ysleta High School graduate, the 15 days they will be together will be spent going to Chico’s Tacos, and a lot of baseball practice.

“We are going to go practice his arm,” Sebastian said. “This is a great feeling.”

After his leave, Arturo will be stationed at Fort Jackson, S.C, which will make it easier for Sebastian to visit him.

“We are going to make up for lost time,” Arturo said. “Now he can come visit me for Christmas, Father’s Day. Words cannot express what I feel. It has been an incredible morning.”

Pebble Hills High Spartans Relishing Newcomer Role

There’s a new team in town, their name is the Pebble Hills Spartans and they are more than ready to to take on all comers this fall.

The Spartans wrapped up their spring football camp with their first-ever varsity scrimmage on Wednesday, taking the field with the energy of a Texas Football Friday Night…even though the calendar reads May.

Pebble Hills was formerly El Dorado’s ninth grade academy and the Spartans have been patiently waiting to take on big brother.  Just like head coach Mark Torres will take on his brother Ruben Torres, who leads the Aztec’s program at El Dorado, but don’t call it a rivalry just yet.

13231174_1190278200996287_1415258375_n“We’re going to have to beat them before there’s any kind of rivalry.” Torres said. “We haven’t played any varsity games so there’s no rivalries whatsoever. Somebody happens to take care of us and we don’t return the favor, it’s not a rivalry… it is what it is, we’re the new kids on the block, we’re everybody’s homecoming, we know it and we have to do everything we can to compete at a high level.”

The program that is currently made up of only freshmen and sophomores, holds 110 student-athletes; but the school is expecting 800 incoming students next fall.

With the influx in enrollment, the coaching staff also received a boost in numbers, something Torres said has made an immediate impact.

“It was a big transition because we gained a lot of coaches so that has been the biggest help,” Mark Torres said. “There’s more eyes on the details, we have more kids that are getting coached up in positions that normally wouldn’t get coached in.”

Players have been responding to the coaching in anticipation of their first ever varsity season, calling it an amazing experience to know that13231060_1190315174325923_1014895124_n they’ll be the first.

“All the coaches want to see what we’re all about, not just the school, but the whole city,” Sophomore Defensive End Johnny Santiago said.
“I think we can shock the city.”

As Torres spoke about not getting ahead in calling any rivalries, he gives that same message to his players as the focus remains on what’s present.

“We talk about what’s ahead of us tomorrow, not what’s ahead of us in the season.” Torres said. “If we look at it as if we have to play this team in the fall, they get ahead of themselves and that’s not good for us.”

As the campus grows in enrollment, so has the expectation for their football program, and the challenges that face Torres will be focused on getting his players mentally prepared for what’s to come.

phhs“Leading it is not a big thing, when you’re coordinating, you’re leading,” Torres said. “It’s the other stuff, dealing with other people’s problems that’s the difference and the challenge for me. The football stuff is the fun and easy stuff. With these young guys, it’s the psychology part of it,
trying to make sure they are prepared and they believe they can compete when they get on the field.”

While the preparation for spring is over, the countdown continues for the Spartans as they patiently await their inaugural varsity football season.

“We want to prove them wrong, we have to work hard,” Sophomore Linebacker Kevin Esquivel said. “We have a clock in our locker room, that shows us what’s next. It’s a countdown clock, we’ll just have to work hard until then, but time doesn’t stop so we shouldn’t either.”

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