Coming off a bye week and heading into a rivalry game, the El Paso Armor could not be any more ready to get back to action. This Saturday they host division rival Sun City Reapers in what could arguably be the biggest rivalry of the Rio Grande Football League.
The game kicks off at 6:05 p.m. at Emperor Stadium in El Paso.
“It’s always been bad blood,” Armor owner Fonzie Gomez told DFUSA. “It’s like the Cowboys and Redskins, Auburn and Alabama, Texas and Oklahoma. Whatever records we have can be thrown out because everybody comes to play that game. It’s one of those.”
The Reapers (1-1) are coming off a 32-21 loss to the El Paso Sun Devils, while the Armor (0-1) is coming off a Week 1, 13-7 loss to the West Texas Pride (1-0).
“We opened up against the West Texas Pride, they’re a brand new team that’s probably a combination of the three other teams from that area,” Gomez said. “It’s kind of tough going against a team that’s very unknown and we did come out losing and disappointed, but I told those guys to be ready because we’ll see them again in the championship. That’s how confident our guys are out here.”
To add to the intensity of the rivalry, the Armor brought in new defensive coordinator Artie Swift who was previously the head coach of the Reapers.
“My biggest pick up this off-season was my defensive coordinator from our rival team,” Gomez said. “Our defense was really stout against the Pride given that we had some bad field position, inside the 20, inside the 10. To only have lost 13-7, that’s something to build on.”
Both the Reapers and Armor look to get back to their winning ways and there’s no better way than to come off a big rivalry win this weekend to build some momentum for the rest of the season.
“I do expect them to come out on all cylinders,” Gomez said. “After a loss, you come out hungry. We’re also coming off a loss and a bye week. We all want to get back on the field. This is the best medicine we can have since they are our first divisional opponent. It sets the tone for the whole season.”
Offensively, the Armor expects another big season out of wide receiver Armando Harris, who had more than 1,000 yards and 19 touchdowns in 2015. Newcomes Avery Washington, from Kansas, and Dandrick Lee, from Lufkin, round out the receiving corps.
“Offensively, you can pick anybody of my receiving corps or my running backs,” Gomez said. “I’ve had the best receiving corps in our league for the last two years.
At the running back position, veteran Tony Dequier and Khahil Shariff will pound it out on the ground for the Armor.
“Our running back combo is different,” Gomez said. “We don’t have a one-dimensional running back. It’s running back by committee, but the heart of my team is our offensive line. We have some new additions to it and some vets on it as well. Most of them are two years returning, so they have some continuity there. If you can’t get your big linemen to be the guys, you can’t do anything.”
Twelve-year veteran, linebacker Angel Ortiz, and defensive linemen Walter Waldo and A.J. Vital will lead the way defensively for the Armor.
“Defensively, I expect great things,” Gomez said. “Nobody really stands out yet. I expect us to have a great team defense this year from our guys.”
If you’re in the El Paso Area, go out to Horizon High School on Saturday and watch this can’t-miss matchup.