Season Recap: Tigers Miss Playoffs By One Game

Nathaniel Duran, Reporter

The El Paso High’s Tiger football team was determined to make their centennial season an unforgettable one. Battling through injuries, The Tigers managed to double their win total from last season, but fell short of a playoff birth.

After a 3-7 season last year, the Tigers finished the season 6-4 with district losses to Chapin, Andress, Bowie and Burges. They beat Cobre, Hanks and San Elizario to start the season while defeating Austin, Irvin and Jefferson in district play.

“The seniors mean a lot to me, I’m doing everything I can for them to go out with a season to remember,” sophomore cornerback, Marko Kennedy said. “For them to come back and think, ‘Wow, we had a great season’ with me playing with them.”

They opened the district play in loses against Andress and Chapin, losing 38-7 and 48-7 respectively. They had a big bounce back win against Austin the following week, 34-6, in which they attempted to break the Guinness World Record for biggest school reunion.

Quarterback Anthony Escobedo rolls out during the centennial football game on Oct. 8 (Photo by Michael Reese)

One week later, came a heart breaking loss to Bowie in a back to back battle that came down to the end. Bowie jumped out to a 20-13 lead at the half.

The Tigers would fight back though, scoring on their opening possession after the half to tie it up at 20. Bowie would recapture the lead at 26-20, only for the Tigers to take over at 27-26. Shortly the score would be 34-27 with a Bowie score to end the third quarter.

The fourth quarter came to the Bear’s defense at the end. El Paso high would march down the field, converting on a fourth and long on Anthony Escobedo pass to Bryant Brock that would get them closer to a winning touchdown.

After a few plays, the Tigers would be dealt with a fourth and goal from the 5-yard line with 2 minutes and 14 seconds left in the game. Bowie’s defense would prevail, picking off Escobedo’s pass as he was pressured.

After the tough loss, the following week the Tigers would travel to Irvin for a bounce back win, 47-24. Running back Jesus Avila ran for 220 yards on 11 carries and three touchdowns.

The next game would be the last time the Tigers would be playing at home for the final time this year, as the Tigers got a huge win senior night against Jefferson to keep their playoff hopes alive. The game was very close at half, but the Tigers pulled away, winning 38-17.

“We are determined, I mean we came out here, we showed up and played some good football,” Avila said.

Head coach, Robert Morales said he was proud of his team displaying good effort despite enduring setbacks due to injuries.

Tiger football team and cheerleaders take the field for the centennial game Oct. 8 against Austin High School. (Photo by Brian Reyes)

“Ever since they came in as freshman, I knew that they were going to be a great group and they’re proving that this year and I couldn’t be any prouder of them,” Morales said. “We’re excited, that’s the position we want to be in. The winner gets in the playoff, the loser stays home, we’re excited, the kids are excited.”

It would not come easy though, as Burges came off an upset win against Chapin who was undefeated at the time. Burges only losses came against Andress and Bowie.

After an hour weather delay, Burges jumped out to a 27-14 lead at half time, after Tigers’ Luis Villegas would haul in an acrobatic touchdown catch from quarterback, Alex Davila, on fourth and goal.

Burges would continue to move down the field throughout the third quarter to extend their lead, 41-14. El Paso High’s Javaughn Thomas would score early in the fourth quarter from inside the 5-yard line, but the Burges lead would remain.

Burges would win 41-21 to clinch the fourth and final seed in the playoff hunt. The Tigers would finish in fifth place in the district.

The Tigers seek to return to the playoffs next season, after a four-year absence. Many new faces will join the varsity squad next season as seniors move on and other players who will fill their role.

“It’s unfortunate that we missed the playoffs, but I’m excited yet curious to see how we’ll do,” sophomore full back, Fernando Villegas said. “We are going to be a young team, but the goal will remain the same.”