EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – For the first time since 2014, three El Paso high school football teams are still alive in round three of the UIL Texas state playoffs: Canutillo Eastwood and Riverside.
That means they’re among the top 16 teams in their respective classifications in the Lone Star State and on Saturday at noon MT in Lubbock, Eastwood (8-4) will make its first-ever appearance in the Class 6A D-II Regional Semifinals when it plays Prosper (8-4).
The Troopers had to win their final three regular season games over Socorro, Coronado and Americas to even make the playoffs as the 4th-best team out of District 1-6A.
They’ve been on a tear since getting into the postseason, beating Abilene 31-27 in the Bi-District round, then knocking off Saginaw Boswell 28-21 last Friday night in the Area round.
“This is what we were building towards, making a run in the playoffs. I know after the Eastlake game people wrote us off and thought we weren’t as good as they thought going into the season,” said Eastwood head coach Julio Lopez. “In this building, we knew what we had. We knew we had a team that could make a run in the playoffs and that’s what you’re seeing.”
Next up for the Troopers is a tough Prosper team from the Dallas area that knocked off powerhouse Allen High in district play. The defeat for Allen was its first district loss in over eight years, but Prosper has at times played up and down to its competition in 2021. They also lost to 5-5 Little Elm and were blown out 35-7 by McKinney Boyd.
It’s a game that will not be easy by any means for Eastwood, but riding a five-game winning streak into uncharted territory, the Troopers are confident.
“This is territory Eastwood has never been in; we’ve never played after Thanksgiving,” said Troopers senior quarterback Andrew Martinez. “We’re going to practice in a couple days on Thanksgiving. It’s great for the program and it raises expectations for the future that Eastwood isn’t a one-and-done school.”
The Troopers re-tooled their defense in the middle of the season and it’s paid off in the playoffs helping them to two wins.
“Honestly the biggest thing is working together and doing your job,” said Eastwood senior linebacker Omar Lopez. “In the beginning, we tried to do too much solo but now we’ve been working as a team and everything’s been perfect after that.”
Other than Eastwood, Canutillo (11-1) will play Wichita Falls Rider (11-1) at 3 p.m. MT in Midland on Friday in the Class 5A DII Regional Semifinals. Riverside (11-1) will play Springtown (9-3) at 1 p.m. MT in Midland on Saturday.