EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The high school football season will kickoff in Texas on Thursday night and El Paso will have a full slate of games. But there was one game that stood out most on the Week 1 schedule: Canutillo vs. Burges.
The Eagles and Mustangs will be featured in the 9 Overtime Game of the Week on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. and the season premiere of 9 Overtime is at 10:15 p.m. on Friday.
Canutillo season preview
Canutillo has made the playoffs in four of the past five years, including last year’s 5-2 (3-1 in District 1-5A, Division II) team. With 12 starters returning, The Eagles are once again poised for another playoff run this season.
The game plan for head coach Scott Brooks is the same as it has been every year, even in 2014 when the Eagles advanced to the State Semifinals.
“Hopefully defense and us running the football,” Brooks said. “I think we have a great junior running back, and I think our quarterback is as good as we’ve had in a while as a dual-threat. With our offensive line, if we can find five that’ll play hard, I think we’ll be pretty good on offense. On defense, we’ll be young but we have some guys that can play.”
LJ Martin returns at running back for Canutillo and he is beginning to receive a lot of attention as a junior. Martin has received Division I offers from UTEP, UTSA, UNLV and Baylor. After running for 897 yards and nine touchdowns in just seven games last season, Martin’s goals for the season are more team-oriented than indiviudal.
“The first thing is always just to win. That’s what we go by — week-by-week — with just one game at a time,” Martin said. “If we keep winning, we can make it to state playoffs and we’ll be right where we want to be.”
Burges season preview
The Burges Mustangs haven’t had a losing season since 2014 and continue to be a threat in District 2-5A, Division II. James Routledge took over the program in 2016 and has led the Mustangs to a 32-19-1 mark, including a share of the district championship in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
Burges returns 10 starters in 2021, including senior running back Tavorus Jones. Jones, who has 27 Division-1 offers, is the most highly-recruited athlete out of El Paso in recent memory. The Missouri commit has 24 offers from Power 5 programs and is looking to finish his high school career with a couple championships. But he is far from the only playmaker in a high-powered offense.
“We are going to give him his carries, but we are also going to be creative with what we’re doing — as far as spreading the ball around,” said Routledge. “We have more weapons that just Tavorus, but he’s going to get his share of carries.”
Playing in just six games last season, Jones rushed for 558 yards and eight touchdowns. He added another 195 yards and three touchdowns as a receiver.
“If a team focuses on shutting me down, there’s other players that we can get out there,” said Jones. “We have receivers that can definitely make plays when I’m getting guarded. They can make plays.”
The Mustangs will be breaking in a new quarterback this season. Andrew Routledge, who just so happens to be the son of head coach James Routledge, is set to step in as the starter after seeing action in four games last season.
“We have very high expectations of our quarterbacks and he [Andrew] can handle a lot,” said Routledge. “We’ve put a lot on his plate and he’s going to make a lot of decisions for us.”
“I think he’s [Andrew] ready,” said Jones. “He has been ready for a while and he’s just been waiting for his turn. He has definitely stepped up, stayed late after practice and throwing a lot of routes to the receivers that we have.”
The junior quarter back completed 33 of his 50 passes (66% completion) for 404 yards and seven touchdown passes as a sophomore. He did take his lumps like all young quarterbacks, throwing three interceptions.
“I just have to listen to everything he [Routledge] says and take it into account,” said Andrew. “If I do what the coaches say, it’ll get me headed in the right direction.”