ELDORADO, TX-- The Eldorado Eagles are looking to restore history and tradition in Schleicher County.
Eldorado was a playoff mainstay from 1994 to 2000 under Doug Kuhlman (‘94-’95) and Jim Fryar (‘96-’00). The Eagles never missed the playoffs during that seven year span and won a district title.
It was also the last time Eldorado won nine games in a season, thanks to a district championship and undefeated regular season in 1997 that ended in the first round of playoffs.
Since then, the Eagles have only appeared in the playoffs five times including four consecutive trips from 2012 to 2015.
Under second-year head coach Michael Johnson, the Eagles are hoping to add to that number in 2018.
To do that, they’ll need to play at a high level in District 8-2A DII. That’s why they scheduled Class 2A blue blood Iraan.
“This is a great opportunity for our kids,” Johnson said. “We talked about it all week. [Iraan] is a top-tier team and that’s who we want to play against week in and week out, especially trying to get prepared for district. There’s no better opponent than Iraan to get you prepared going into district.”
Iraan had a coaching change as Mark Kirchoff decided it was time to step away from the game. Corby Maurer was promoted to fill the vacancy, but that doesn’t mean Iraan will fall off at all. Eldorado’s offensive coordinator Zane Hernandez, a graduate of Iraan, knows that well.
“I just know they’re a bunch of kids who expect to win every week,” Hernandez said. “I know they’re going to be tough...I think if our kids match that intensity they’re going to bring, I think it gives us a good chance to go out there and play with those guys.”
For the second-year coordinator at Eldorado, this game has a sentimental meaning.
“Knowing the tradition they have over there, knowing that they have tough kids, it’s awesome to play those guys,” Hernandez said, “because I know how much football means to the town of Iraan. It’s exciting to get the opportunity to do that.”
The Eagles are off to their best start since 2015, the last time they made playoffs. They’re hoping a game like this will help them turn the corner.
“They know what’s coming,” Johnson said. “It’s no secret how good Iraan is. It’s not a secret, the tradition of that place, and our kids know that. They’ve begun to learn that it’s about preparing yourself to go into those kinds of enviornments and those kinds of games. They’re excited for the challenge.”
However, the Eagles are in a familiar situation with starting quarterback Kevan Covarrubiaz out this week. Stepping up is Kevan’s little brother, Korbin, a freshman at Eldorado.
“They’ve got some love for each other working hard together this week,” Johnson said.
Johnson said the Covarrubiaz brothers and Cesar Garcia had a “tight” competition for the starting quarterback role.
“Kevan ended up just edging them out,” Johnson said. “But we’ve got full confidence going into the game with Korbin. He’s got some tools that are pretty unique just like Kevan does and just like Cesar does. We’re going to play to those strengths and let him get after it.”
The Eagles are also staying grounded and focused on the process of getting better before district play.
“We’ve got to just get better than we were last week and continue to improve,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, in high school football, district is where it really matters most.”
Despite that down-to-earth outlook, Johnson remains confident in his team’s ability and feels they can put up a challenge against Iraan.
“I think we’re going to compete as hard as we possibly can,” Johnson said. “Any time your kids do that, you’re extremely excited. I think this team is capable of going out and competing with the best. I really do. We’ll see Friday night how that works out.”
Eldorado hosts Iraan Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Larry Mitchell Stadium.