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Clovis scrimmages at ENMU

 

Eric Murray

Clovis linemen try to win a tug-of-war during the ENMU Lineman Challenge on Friday morning. Clovis finished second in the overall challenge event.

PORTALES — What football players do in the spring and summer is almost as important as what they do in the fall.

Preparation is, after all, a big part of the game. Succeeding in the warm-weather months can lead to success during the regular season. So, the Clovis High football program could take some guarded optimism out of Friday's 7-on-7 scrimmages held at Eastern New Mexico University's Greyhound Stadium.

Clovis' varsity went 2-3 in full play — the Wildcats beat Carlsbad 37-7 and Hereford 28-14, lost to Lovington by a point, Hobbs by seven and reigning 6A state champ Manzano by four.

After that, the 'Cats headed to pool play where they faced Manzano yet again. And again they lost by four, 16-12 this time.

Clovis' JV took second in the Small School division, going 6-1, with that lone defeat coming against Robertson of Las Vegas. The Wildcats' C (or freshman) team competed in the JV division and finished 1-3.

All in all, a decent day for the purple and white.

"Yeah, not bad," said Cal Fullerton, who will begin his second season as Clovis High's head varsity football coach in August. "This early in the summer there are always going to be things you've got to work on. We had a lot of kids get a lot of reps, so that's always good. We had a lot of dropped balls and a lot of open kids that didn't get thrown to. We've got to take what defenses give us. You get a stop here, stop there, your offense has got to capitalize.

"Some things we know how to do that we've got to do a little bit better."

But there was no dogging it, nobody taking plays off, which is always a plus.

"Any time our kids were on the field, they were at full speed," Fullerton said. "The effort was there. Any time you don't have to coach effort ... that's one thing that we took out of the day as a positive."

And there were some other more specific positives, big ones.

Senior free safety Jailen Gallegos, who will also play wide receiver this season, came up with three interceptions in a row against Carlsbad.

Clovis' linemen took second place in the Lineman Challenge, which included among its tasks — the bench press, a tug-of-war, pushing both a team sled with seven guys and a two-man sled, and a farmer's walk. Being strong up front is key to any team's success, so Friday's results were encouraging.

"No doubt," Fullerton said. "I think one of the things about our offensive line is they're really going to be, not so much young, but inexperienced. They've done a great job in the weight room, great job in the offseason. That's one thing we can take out of this - their toughness and being strong."

There was also the play of the up-and-coming varsity stars.

"I really liked some of our sophomore kids," Fullerton said. "They got better today. It was pretty fast for them playing against a bunch of kids that have been playing for a while. Our seniors have to get a bit better, but that'll come. I thought our juniors played well."

Clovis' generally solid performance came without three important cogs of its football machine. Linebacker-defensive back Jaylen Mason — considered the fifth guy or the razor in the Wildcats' 4-2-5 defense — was injured. Middle linebacker Ian Yruegas and free safety Jestin Webskowski were on vacation.

"That's three kids that are three of our biggest playmakers and three of our best players," Fullerton said. "So for the other kids to come in and get reps is really important for us to develop depth."

Eric Murray

Clovis' Jayden Phillips high-points a ball against a Manzano defensive back in the end zone during Friday's ENMU 7-on-7 scrimmages at Greyhound Stadium.

The 7-on-7 scrimmage format allows teams to simulate games to a certain degree, work on things like speed, timing, passing, receiving, offensive and defensive strategy. It's not full tilt, though. For example, the quarterback doesn't get a traditional pass rush; he can just roll out, take his time to spot receivers downfield.

"It's freelance for a quarterback," Fullerton said. "Lucikly, on Friday nights when somebody tries to do that, you've got a linebacker trying to hit them in the mouth. It's a little tougher for them to throw it."

Preseason scrimmaging has only just begun for Clovis.

Next Saturday, the Wildcats will take part in the New Mexico State 7-on-7 competition in Las Cruces. There, they'll see the likes of Cleveland, Centennial, Mayfield, and even a few El Paso (Texas) teams. It will be Clovis' second straight year appearing in this particular tournament.

"We like to go up there," Fullerton said. "That'll be a way for our guys to get a little further out of town and get to see some of the guys we don't get to see during the summer."

 

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