The Eastwood head coaching position for football is vacant no more. In its new reign comes a familiar face, one that was teaching in the hallways and coaching on the field simply 12 months ago. The highly praised and well regarded Mr. Julio Lopez is back at Eastwood, and this time, he’s the boss. Lopez was recently named the newest addition to the list of football coaches at Eastwood, taking over a program that is coming off two straight winning seasons along with a playoff appearance this past campaign.
Lopez, an El Paso native, was a standout football player throughout high school and went on to play for the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) before coaching two years as a graduate assistant with the program, “I think the great coaches that I’ve been under have really put me at an advantage” Lopez says, “whether it was (Montwood coach Chuck) Veliz, or Coach (Mike) Price with UTEP who was an innovator in college offenses, I have worked with and under some of the best”. After a two year stint with UTEP, Lopez found a home at Eastwood as an assistant coach helping with the defensive secondary. At the time, Eastwood was in the midst of down note in the programs storied history, with multiple losing seasons in the decade leading up to Lopez’s hiring, including two back to back winless seasons in the 2008-2009 campaigns. Lopez helped in part guide the Troopers to 6 victories by his second year in the 2013 season,the schools first winning season in over five years. However, it proved to be just short of a playoff berth for Lopez and the Troop.
This past spring, Lopez accepted the offensive coordinator position at Socorro High School, helping with the rebuild of their program respectively, “Socorro was a bit more of a process to get them to where they need to be whereas here (at Eastwood) these kids have been brought up in the system and are ready to work when they come to the varsity level” the head coach said. In the 2014 season, Eastwood made a well-documented run to the 4th seed in the district seeding and finally shaking the playoff drought for the first time in 13 years, falling in the first round to Frenship High School in a battle.
Now Lopez is back home, taking over the departing Phil Barrios, and is not only excited, but has legitimate expectations for his program saying “Nothing is overnight but I do expect Eastwood to continue to make the playoffs year in and year out and not only that, but to compete for district championships and keep setting higher benchmarks and boundaries. I'm very happy to be coming home to Eastwood, the pride, the traditions, the academic excellence creates a great atmosphere, and we have what it takes here to re-establish a long, long tradition of winning football."
The transition back onto the Troopers sideline should be a bit easier, given Eastwood has a number of key contributors from last year returning including star offensive weapon Richie Rodriguez, who is also the reigning district 1-6A MVP and was honorable mention all-state as a junior this past season. Other notables that Lopez should be excited for are quarterback Mark Torrez and running back Aaron Contreras. The leader also echoed similar thoughts, “I’ve known just about all these players since they were freshman and coached a handful of them already so there is definitely great chemistry there and a trust that we all have for one another so that will speed up any type of transition process”. Lopez also added that he is a strong proponent of tailoring his playing style to the type of players that he has on the field, from an offensive and defensive standpoint, as opposed to simply sticking to one system. He added that he has extremely high expectations for the coming football season, and those to follow.
The head coach also added that spring football will begin with a possible inter-squad scrimmage at the Sun Bowl later in the month and the annual Blue and Gold game targeted for the last week of school. The young and vibrant Julio Lopez is back home taking over the reins for an Eastwood football program that can be described with the same lyrics with its players. Perhaps not everything will accumulate right away, but the groundwork and foundation has been laid.With a 17-month-old son and a second child on the way, Lopez wants to be at Eastwood for a long time. "I want to have a 30-year career here," he said. "I want my son to play sports here and my daughter to be a cheerleader or trooperette." It is now time to strap on the helmets and get to work for the Troopers, the future is looking as promising as ever.