EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – At 12:01 a.m. on August 7th, the University Interscholastic League (UIL) allows Texas high school football teams that had spring training to begin practicing for the upcoming 2023 season.

The Eastwood Troopers wasted no time getting on the field. For the ninth year in a row, the Troopers football team held its Midnight Madness practice and hit the field right at 12:01 a.m. on Monday morning.

“We’ve done this for nine years, and our attitude is to be the first ones on the field when the UIL allows it and then be the last ones on the field, hopefully late November and into December.” Eastwood football head coach Julio Lopez said.

Eastwood is preparing to follow up on a successful 2022 season where the Troopers went 9-3 overall and 7-1 in District 1-6A play to become co-district champs with Pebble Hills High School. The Troopers were also Area round finalists.

With 29 lettermen returning and about seven starters on both sides of the ball, the Troopers aim to not only win the district title again, but also get to a stage of the playoffs the program hasn’t been to before.

“We’ve just always tried to do something that’s never been done, “Lopez said. “In Class 6A, there’s never been an El Paso team to go to a regional final. For us, we went to a Sweet 16 two years ago. We’ve gone back-to-back years now, winning two different championships, winning back-to-back by district championships. For us, this is a year to kick the door down and hopefully make a regional final.”

“Last year, we had some great talent and this year we have even better talent and a bunch of new cats,” Eastwood senior QB Evan Minjarez said. “They believe in me, and I believe in them, and I think we’re ready for the season.”

Eastwood will be led by senior quarterback Evan Minjarez. Minjarez threw for 2,749 yards and had 35 passing touchdowns in 2022. Max Mancilla will be the go-to option in the backfield. In his junior year, Mancilla ran for 690 yards on 108 carries in 12 games played. Eastwood did lose wide receiver Curtis Murillo (graduation) and will need to rely on other receivers to produce this season.

On defense, defensive lineman Noah Medina (29 tackles in 2022) and Jayden Serrano (50 tackles, 6 sacks in 2022) will be players to watch. Defensive end Konrad Joseph-Garcia will also look to make an impact on defense.

Eastwood opens up its season on the road against District 3-6A powerhouse Southlake Carroll on Friday, Aug. 25.  Tune in to 9 Overtime at 10:15 p.m. that night on KTSM for all of the scores and highlights every Friday night during the high school football season.