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Cats take on struggling Jaguars

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Clovis expected Atrisco Heritage to be one of the best teams on its first-half schedule, and maybe the best team in Albuquerque.

The Wildcats still think there’s some merit to that, despite the best efforts of La Cueva and Sandia.

After La Cueva took a 26-25 win with a touchdown in the final seconds, the Matadors hung a 28-12 loss on the Jaguars and suddenly the .500 Wildcats are facing a team they didn’t expect to be winless. in today’s 2 p.m. kickoff at Community Stadium in Albuquerque.

“No one did,” Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said. “They’ve got 12 starters back from last year. They’ve got a lot of kids back and they were the district runnerup to (2013 top seed) Valley. They’re the best 0-2 team in the state, I’ll tell you that.”

That message has resonated through the Clovis locker room, where player celebrations of a 28-23 win over Cibola last week were met by coaches’ calls to “Remember Aug. 30,” a reference to a lopsided loss to open the season at Class 5A Goddard.

“They’re really good,” Clovis junior Roland Chavez said. “They’re tough to beat, and we’re going to have to play our best. We’ve just got to get off the bus and play hard, don’t underestimate anybody.”

Roanhaus noted that Clovis handled the option well against Cibola, which managed just nine first downs and 14 rushing yards last week, but that Atrisco’s triple option presents its own challenges.

Senior Jesus Alvidrez leads the Jaguars with 343 yards on 43 carries, despite missing significant time to injury last week. Junior quarterback Aaron Bean hasn’t been much of a threat in the air, with 3-of-10 passing for 44 yards, but has carried 17 times for 126 yards and a touchdown.

“The tailback is a good player and the quarterback runs the ball really well,” Roanhaus said. “Their slot guy runs well too. Like Cibola, they’ve got more speed than we do. And just like Cibola, we’ve got to be at the right place at the right time.”

The Jaguars are playing their fifth season, and third in New Mexico’s highest class. Their first season in Class 5A came in 2012, which ended in a 47-21 loss to Clovis at Leon Williams Stadium in the first round of the state playoffs. Alvidrez played on that team, and Roanhaus said he was impressive despite his inexperience at the time.

Attempts to contact Atrisco Heritage coach Patrick Johnson were unsuccessful.

The kickoff was moved back an hour at the request of Clovis. Roanhaus said when Clovis officials found out the game was the only one scheduled at Community Stadium that day, the request was made to make the road trip less taxing. Roanhaus has been critical in the past of Albuquerque Public Schools for not giving teams adequate locker room time, but noted that having Community Stadium as a third shared facility has alleviated many of those issue

Clovis has only played at Community Stadium once — a Class 5A quarterfinal loss to Valley last year that most will remember for the unforgiving cold.

Saturday’s forecast is more forgiving, with temperatures in the mid-70s with the chance of thunderstorms in the first hour of the game. The chance of precipitation is 51 percent at 2 p.m., but drops to 32 percent around 4 p.m.

GAMEDAY

Clovis (1-1) at Atrisco Heritage (0-2)

2 p.m. today, Community Stadium

• On the air: KCLV-AM 1240, KCLV-FM 99.1, KTQM 99.9, streaming online at kclvsports.com at ktqmclovis.com.

• Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 37th season, 323-129-5. Atrisco Heritage, Patrick Johnson, 3rd season, 15-9.

• Last week: Clovis upended Cibola 28-23 at home. The Jaguars lost to Sandia 28-12.

• Last meeting: 2012, Class 5A first round, Clovis won 47-21. It’s the only meeting between the teams.

• Jaguars players to watch: Jesus Alvidrez, 5-7, 165, Sr., RB; Andre Sanchez, 5-7, 160, Sr., LB; Sergio Loya, 5-10, 180, Jr., DE.

• Notes: Roanhaus said the Wildcats will have senior guard Josh Gomez (knee) and defensive back Jaquan Franklin (shoulder) for the first time this season. Both were injured just before Clovis’ opener. Franklin could start, but Roanhaus said the focus is to ease him back into regular playing time.

— Compiled by Kevin Wilson

 
 
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