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Cats clinch title during bye week

The Clovis Wildcats clinched the District 4-5A title Friday without playing a down.

Wins by Carlsbad over Hobbs and Sandia over Cibola on Friday left the four teams trailing Clovis in the district with two losses. The Wildcats, who had a bye, are 3-0 in district with a game left Friday against Cibola.

The Wildcats’ third straight district title also earned Clovis (6-3 overall) a first-round state playoff game at home. Clovis will play the loser of Friday’s District 3-5A game between Mayfield and Las Cruces High.

Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said winning the district title without playing was a bonus but the Wildcats still have plenty of incentive heading into this week’s game.

“We’ve been talking to our guys about working to be the best defensive football team in the state because defense is what wins games in November and December.

“Besides, (the players) took care of business in the first three games.”

In Carlsbad, Austin Peralta scored early in the fourth quarter and Carlsbad came up with two interceptions Friday to preserve a 15-7 win over Hobbs, keeping the Cavemen’s playoff hopes alive.

Carlsbad (6-4, 1-2) can make the playoffs with a win over Sandia this week. Hobbs (6-5, 2-2) is finished with the regular season but still has a chance of making the playoffs if Carlsbad loses to Sandia.

Defensive back Angel Ramirez had three of Carlsbad’s five interceptions.

Carlsbad dominated the statistics, getting 23 first downs to Hobbs’ five. The Cavemen had 412 total yards to Hobbs’ 163.

In Albuquerque, Sandia sophomore Derris Jackson made his first start at quarterback at any level memorable.

Normally a starting running back, the stocky sophomore rushed for 131 yards and passed for 165 as the youthful Matadors (3-6, 1-2) beat Cibola 24-17 for their first district win.

Clinton Carroll passed for 131 yards for Cibola (4-5, 1-2), which blew a shot to play for the district title this week at Clovis.