The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Peter Stein
Staff Writer 

H.S. football: Texas teams done


November 25, 2017

It was truly Black Friday for three local Texas football teams.

All three headed into Friday afternoon still afloat in the Texas playoffs. When the day was over, though, each had been eliminated, two in heartbreaking fashion.

Merkel came back to edge Muleshoe by a point. Clarendon rallied from two scores down to top Bovina by six. Farwell entered its game against Wellington with a roster that more resembled a M*A*S*H unit than a football team, and was shut out.

Wellington 34, Farwell 0

PLAINVIEW, Texas — The Steers were battling two opponents heading into Friday’s playoff game — Wellington, the region’s top-ranked team, and injuries.

Farwell players were playing hurt. Some players were playing out of position. Both resulted from the injury bug taking a chomp out of Farwell’s lineup.

With those two opponents, especially the second one, Farwell’s outcome wasn’t terribly surprising.

“We’ve kind of limped in the last few weeks with injuries,” Steers head coach Danny Brittain said. “And it just finally caught up with us. We had some people in positions who weren’t quite ready to be where they were. They did the best they could do.”

Sophomore tight end Dustin Ray (160 lbs) had to play center in place of junior Trace Stancell (235) because the latter had a broken foot. Senior right tackle Facio Germain had a dislocated kneecap, so sophomore Parker Mahaney had to step in there. Junior left tackle Sterling Henderson has been suffering from a deep thigh bruise. He hasn’t been able to practice, but has been toughing it out and playing in games. He did go on Friday, though obviously not at full strength.

Junior safety Patrick Pena came into Friday’s game with a broken wrist, but padded it up and played nonetheless.

Midseason injuries had forced Ray, normally a varsity backup at middle linebacker, into a starting role at that position.

Friday, starting senior linebacker LeeRoy Cervantes was switched to safety when starting senior safety Miguel Vasquez was injured, which also affected the running game because Vasquez plays that position, too, and had rolled up 330 rushing yards last week.

There were even some freshmen playing at key spots out of necessity. “They had played JV all year and then they had to go in and play the No. 1 team in the region,” Brittain said. “It’s going to help us out in the future.”

Friday, though, it was just the result of an injury problem that wouldn’t stop mounting.

“You’ve got to be good to get far,” Brittain said, “but you’ve also got to be lucky. And the luck part is, you’ve got to keep people healthy. And we were just worn out. That attrition takes over and you’ve got to put somebody in there.

“I don’t want to take anything away from Wellington because they’re definitely a talented team. They have size and speed. They’re definitely the full package right now.”

Even against that full package, though, Farwell did have some chances. Down only 14-0 in the second quarter, the Steers had a dropped fourth-down pass and an interception, both in the end zone.

“We had two opportunities there to score that could’ve put us back in the ballgame,” Brittain said. “Even with all the things that were going wrong, injuries and stuff.”

With all those injuries, there was little room for error.

“That’s just the nature of the game,” Brittain said. “Sometimes I feel like if we had gone into the game with all our weapons and everyone we started the season with, I think it would’ve been a different ballgame.”

Farwell relied heavily on its senior core of Ethan Stancell, Vasquez, John Mitchell, Cervantes, Germain and Angel Pena (who has also battled knee injuries) to keep the season going as long as it did.

“Those six seniors I had at the end of the year were fighting and scrapping the whole way,” Brittain said, “and didn’t give up at any point in time.”

Despite their efforts, Farwell’s season ended at 6-5.

“I felt like it was a good season,” Brittain said. “6-5 is not great overall, but for what we had to overcome the last couple of weeks ... I have to call it a successful season.”

Clarendon 26, Bovina 20

CANYON, Texas — Bovina seemed like it was heading for the next round.

The Mustangs led 20-6 at halftime and 20-12 at the start of the fourth quarter.

The defense was hanging on, but the offense seemed to run out of gas after the first half. While Bovina never added to those 20 points, Clarendon kept hammering away, wore down the Mustangs’ defense, and put up 20 unanswered points in the second half, including 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter.

“Our defense played lights out,” Bovina head coach Jonathan Lambright said. “Our offense just didn’t show up.”

As a result, Bovina’s season ended at 8-3.

“We did pretty good,” Lambright said. “I think we could’ve gone farther, but we did all right.”

The Mustang offense was crackling in the first half, highlighted by Andres Loera’s 80-yard touchdown reception from David Lara.

“In the second quarter we played really well,” Lambright said.

But in the second half, Bovina’s offense couldn’t recapture the same magic.

“We just didn’t make key plays when we should’ve,” Lambright said. “We just didn’t execute.”

Clarendon, meanwhile, got its ground game rolling, putting up points and working the clock in the process.

“They just ran it right at us and kept running it at us in the fourth quarter,” Lambright said, “and we just couldn’t stop them.”

Merkel 28, Muleshoe 27

CHILDRESS, Texas — Muleshoe was involved in a classic back-and-forth battle with Merkel. Unfortunately for the Mules, Merkel was the last team to go ‘forth’ in that battle and emerged with a comeback victory.

Though the Mules trailed 9-6 after the first quarter, they scored in the second to go up 13-9 by halftime. A high-scoring third quarter resulted in Muleshoe leading 27-22 by its end.

But, Merkel scored the fourth quarter’s only points, a touchdown that proved to be the game-winner.

Attempts to reach Muleshoe head coach David Wood were unsuccessful.

Wood’s Mules ended their season at 5-7.


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