High School Football Starts Thursday! Here’s All You Need to Know Before Kickoff
Well, we made it. Not sure how we got to the point of kicking off the high school football season here in El Paso amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the UIL rules were set back in the summer and the schedule was pushed back from an August kickoff to an October start.
600 ESPN El Paso will have live scoring updates here on our website for Thursday and Friday games, along with our 600 ESPN El Paso Twitter page.
How we got here
The original start date for the season was set to be during the final weekend of August. UIL rules and El Paso county ordinances restricted most teams from starting workouts until Sept. 8.
Both Class 6A and 5A teams have an eight-game schedule for the regular season, spanning from the first weekend of October to early December. Class 4A and 3A teams will have a shortened five-game season with playoffs set for mid-November.
Each school district revealed its most recent rules and protocols in place for fans and attendees for the games. Read the full breakdown for fan policies here.
Some school districts will be streaming the games on their specific social media pages or websites, while other districts will have their teams post regular updates on their social media accounts.
Week One Slate
Thursday, Oct. 1
- El Dorado vs. Pebble Hills, 7 p.m. at SAC
- Canutillo at Austin, 6:30 p.m.
- Horizon at Bowie, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, Oct. 2
- Del Valle at Americas, 7 p.m.
- Hanks at Eastwood, 7 p.m.
- Andress at Franklin, 7 p.m.
- Montwood at Burges, 7 p.m.
- Socorro at Ysleta, 7 p.m.
- Eastlake at Parkland, 7 p.m.
- Jefferson at Riverside, 7 p.m.
- Clint at El Paso High, 7 p.m.
- San Elizario at Tornillo, 7 p.m.
- Coronado vs. Chapin, 7 p.m. at Austin HS
The Cancelled Games
An internal COVID-19 case canceled Cathedral football's first two games of the season. The Fighting Irish were set to face Mountain View this Friday and play Jefferson in week two. They are the second team to cancel games after Irvin High School canceled their first two games due to a positive COVID-19 case.
In place of Cathedral, Mountain View will play Bel Air on Friday since the Highlanders were supposed to play Irvin in week one. Hanks, who was set to play the Rockets in the second week, might try to schedule Jefferson to fill the open weeks.
* denotes new change *
- Pebble Hills
Eastwood and Eastlake will join the 1-6A ranks through this realignment, which will only spice up the competition in this district. Now in an eight-team district, 1-6A will be a dog-fight with the likes of Americas, Franklin, Montwood and Pebble Hills finding success at the local level through the past few years. Eastlake is coming off a huge Super 5A district title while Eastwood won the district in 2018. Both teams have had success in recent years, making the top seed out of this district one of the most fascinating storylines to follow in 2020.
Eastlake is moving up to 6A for the first time in program history while Eastwood will rejoin 6A after spending two seasons in Super 5A.
District 1-5A Division II
* denotes new change *
- El Paso High
District 2-5A Division II
District 1-5A Division I
- Bel Air
- Del Valle
- El Dorado
District 1-4A Division I
- Mountain View
- San Elizario
District 1-5A will remain intact with the same teams as the previous realignment. As Riverside moved down to Class 4A, District 2-5A will have five teams now with Canutillo, Hanks, Parkland, Ysleta and Horizon.
What was once the Super 5A district built with the likes of Eastwood and Eastlake is now a four-team district. However, it's worth noting that Chapin will remain in District 1-5A Division I instead of possibly reclassifying downward.
Each team in 4A had made the playoffs by default in recent years because of the four-team district, but with Riverside in the mix, there will be a program left out of the state playoffs. Riverside showed promise in Gary Recoder's first year at the helm and it will be interesting to follow the Rangers in this new district.
Game of the Night Preview: Canutillo at Austin
What a game to kick off the 2020 season.
On one hand, Canutillo comes in following an area round playoff appearance in the Class 5A playoffs. They've got some significant returning pieces coming back, especially their multi-talented ATH in sophomore LJ Martin. Head coach Scott Brooks speaks highly of this team and starting the season against an experienced Austin team will be telling about the Eagles moving forward.
Eric Pichardo enters his fourth season as the head coach of Austin and the Panthers return a heap of players back from last year's co-district championship team. Senior running back and linebacker Will Rodriguez totals 2,163 rushing yards and 25 touchdowns in his high school career. Senior tailback Isiah Witterstauter also returns to the mix after finishing with 1,534 rushing yards and 15 touchdowns last year. Both were all-city selections in 2019, as Rodriguez finished with the 2-5A Division I MVP award and Witterstauter earned first-team all-district recognition.
Final score prediction: Austin 24 - Canutillo 21
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