The Eldorado Eagles defeated the Christoval Cougars 14-7 Friday, November 8th to claim the District 8-2A Championship.

The Eagles have relied on their high-octane offense all season long, but Friday night it was the team’s swarming defense that won the day. Cougar quarterback Brayden Wilcox found himself having to scramble and throw on the run all night, resulting in four interceptions.

Despite the Cougars ability to move the ball, Eldorado kept them on their heels most of the night. Cesar Garcia flipped the field on several occasions booming punts deep into Christoval territory.

“Cesar punted lights out this last Friday. He has done a great job all year, but he really amped it up in the most crucial game of the year,” Eagles Head Coach Michael Johnson said. “Kayden Rodriguez, I thought, had one of the biggest tackles of the game on that second to last punt. He covered down all night like a man on a mission, which made the punts that much better.”

Eldorado’s secondary got into the act, too, intercepting Wilcox four times. Cooper Meador snagged three of those interceptions.

“Cooper was everywhere in all three phases of the game,” Coach Johnson said. “It would be hard to single out a defensive player of the game, but Cooper’s hat trick of picks kind of gives him the edge.”

Christoval targeted Cesar Garcia on a couple of throws, and he made them pay late in the game, knocking the ball away and into the arms of his teammate, Elias Luna.

“They wanted to pick on Cesar and he came up big with that pass break up.”Coach Johnson said after the game. “Elias was right where he was supposed to the be, and the ball fell our way.”

Coach Johnson said he knew the Cougars would be focused on taking away the Eagles passing game.

“Part of our plan was to take some shots early to see how that would play out and to keep an aggressive mentality,” Johnson said. “As the game went on, Kevan made the throws and Korbin and Jaakan converted in the crucial down and distance situations.”

After a scoreless first quarter and a second quarter that saw the ball go back and forth, Eagles quarterback Kevan Covarrubiaz put the Eagles on top when he ran the ball in from 21 yards out. Jonathan McGee added the extra-point to give the Eagles a 7-0 lead with 56 seconds remaining in the first half.

“Those guys running the ball the way they did was big. We have a physical and tough culture and we knew that going into this game we wanted to get after it down in the trenches,” Johnson said after the game. “Kevan, Santiago, and Eric all did a great job pounding the rock which was big because it kept the clock rolling and helped us move the chains when we needed it most.”

The third quarter was much the same as first two, with neither team having much of an advantage. But, The Eagles defense and special teams kept giving the ball back to the offensive unit and it paid off late in the third stanza when Edgar Muniz pounded the ball into the end zone on a fullback dive. McGee added the extra-point to give the Eagles a 14-0 lead with 4:38 remaining in the quarter.

Christoval got on the board with 50 seconds left in the third quarter when Wilcox connected with Beau Jolly.

Still, the Eagles held a 14-7 lead heading into the final stanza that turned out to be even more of a defensive battle. Kayden Rodriguez delivered an devastating tackle on a Cougar punt returner. Cesar Garcia broke up a pass deep in Eagles territory and the deflected ball was hauled in by Elias Luna for Eldorado’s fourth interception of the night.

With time winding down, Wilcox scrambled to his left in hopes of heaving a desperation pass toward Eldorado’s end zone, but Eagles defenders converged and he was forced to run. Jaakan Jurecek, Elias Luna, David Barajas and James Kimble cornered Wilcox and brought him down near midfield to end the game.

Kevan Covarrubiaz was the leading rusher for the Eagles with 107 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries. He also completed four of nine passes for 51 yards.

Santiago Hernandez gained 26 yards on six carries, while Eric Reyes gained 11 yards on two carries. Elias Luna carried the ball three times for three yards and Edgar Muniz had only one carry for one yard, but that was the yard that gave the Eagles their second TD and the margin of victory.

Korbin Covarrubiaz caught two passes for 40 yards, including a 31-yarder that sparked the Eagles offense. Jaakan Jurecek and Santiago Hernandez each had a catch for six yards and five yards respectively.

Jurecek was the Eldorado’s leading tackler with three solo tackles and six assists, including a tackle for loss. Other big hitters for the Eagles defense were Korbin Covarrubiaz, David Barajas, Eric Reyes, EmilIano Hernandez, Cesar Garcia, Edgar Muniz, Frankie Villanueva, Elias Luna, Garrett Hariman, James Kimble, Reese Faull, Cooper Meador, Kayden Rodriguez, Phillip Garcia and Marco Martinez.

Christoval tallied 18 first downs to Eldorado’s 10. The Cougars had 342 yards of total offense compared to 199 for the Eagles. Christoval also led in penalties, with several personal foul penalties that helped to derail some of the Cougars scoring threats.

Eldorado led on the scoreboard, however, to claimed the 14-7 win, and their first outright District Championship since 2012, and only their second since 1997. The team finished the regular season with a 9-1 record and a 4-0 record in district play.

“It was a total team effort for us,” Coach Michael Johnson said after the game. “Our fans were awesome! The atmosphere was electric and fans of the City of Gold had Larry Mitchel Stadium rocking, That was another big edge. It was hard for the Cougars to hear down there as they were operating on offense. It’s the beauty of the game. Every single person, even the fans, play a big role in winning championships.”

The Warbirds now head into the State 2A Playoffs and turn their attention to the Haskell Indians in the upcoming Bi-District game. Haskell finished 4th in District 7-2A with a 3-7 season record.

The Eagles will square off with the Indians at San Angelo Stadium at 7 pm on Friday, November 15, 2019.