EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – After the first trip to the Class 6A Division II Regional Semifinals in program history, Eastwood got back to business as early as it possibly could.

The Troopers, as they do every year, opened up fall practices with a Midnight Madness practice, at precisely 12 a.m. on Aug. 8, the earliest date Eastwood could practice since Julio Lopez’s team held spring workouts.

It’s a tradition Lopez has had every year he’s been the head coach at Eastwood and one he did as a player himself in high school.

“I think it’s more symbolic than anything. For us, it’s the mentality that as soon as the UIL says you’re able to get on the field, we don’t want to waste any time. 12 a.m. hits, we want to be on the field working towards our goals and another great year,” Lopez said.

Eastwood had to sneak into the playoffs after a fourth place finish in District 1-6A in 2021. A 6-4 regular season turned into a pair of playoff wins, before a loss to Prosper in the Sweet 16 saw the Troopers end the season at 8-5.

They’ll have to replace veteran quarterback Andrew Martinez in the lead-up to the 2022 season, but 14 starters return and give the Troopers confidence that they could make another run this fall.

“Our first focus is our first game. Then it’s just step by step, day-by-day and then hopefully winning district and going deeper in the playoffs. We made the Sweet 16 and we were just three games away,” said Troopers senior wide receiver Curtis Murillo.

Eastwood is once again testing itself in a big way with a week one road trip to the Dallas Metroplex to play state powerhouse, Southlake Carroll.