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

Rams seek revenge against Horsemen


August 31, 2018

Eric Murray

A group of Rams, led by Hasaan Howard, center, conditions after Wednesday's practice. Portales hosts St. Michael's at 7 p.m.

PORTALES — Football is a game of inches, and last year’s St. Mike’s-Portales football game is no exception. The Rams rallied to score a late touchdown, cutting their road deficit down to 21-20.

However, quarterback Tyrese Dawson’s keeper to the right pylon on the go-ahead two-point conversion attempt was marked just short of the end zone. It was a close call, no matter how you saw it, and it allowed the Horsemen to hang on for the big September victory in Santa Fe.

Some saw it as a 4A title game preview, but ultimately, neither team made it to the championship game. Fast forward a year later and both St. Mike’s (0-1) and Portales (0-1) return inexperienced football teams.

While the Rams return just eight starters from last year, the Horsemen have a slightly-better 11 (six on defense). That inexperience showed in both teams’ respective openers last week, as Ram turnovers and missed opportunities led to a 10-3 overtime loss against Hope Christian.

As for St. Mike’s, its matchup wasn’t quite as close, as the Horsemen were plastered by Taos, 59-18. In the game, the Tigers scored on nine of its 15 possessions, while the usually-strong St. Mike’s rushing attack was held to 1.8 yards per carry.

In all, the Horsemen lost their starting quarterback, a pair of wide receivers and four offensive linemen to graduation this past year. While St. Mike’s will try to look more competitive this week, Rams coach Jaime Ramirez has already been impressed with the growth he’s seen in his team’s practices.

“We didn’t have a really good set of practices last week. Like our Wednesday practice wasn’t real good, our Tuesday practice wasn’t real good,” Ramirez explained. “And then this week, it seemed like we were focused from the beginning. Our Monday practice was good, our Tuesday practice was good.

“And then (Wednesday) was the best practice we’ve probably had, all year long. That was nice to see that, that on a Wednesday, they came out and were focused. It seemed like we were running on all cylinders on special teams, defense played outstanding — we had about five or six interceptions and a couple of fumble recoveries. We want to pride ourselves in doing that. Offensively, we moved the ball and the offense flowed well.”

Ramirez was generally happy with his defense and special teams during last week’s loss to Hope, but like St. Mike’s, the offense wasn’t quite there. Other than the obvious lack of scoring, running the football was a challenge against the Huskies defense.

Portales had 47 rushing attempts, but settled for just 118 yards (2.1 yards per carry). Quarterback Julian Urioste had 33 carries for 122 yards, including the 8-yard run in which he was stopped short of the goal line to end the game in overtime.

Backup quarterback/running back Baylor Diaz added 10 carries, but a portion of those occurred when he operated out of the quarterback position. Running backs, however, combined for less than 10 carries, including some of Diaz’ runs.

“I felt, at times, we weren’t running the ball as good as we could have. That was on me,” Ramirez said. “I should have ran a little bit more with the running backs. I think we have three pretty good running backs, and so, we’re definitely gonna look to be more balanced in our offensive attack.”

And while creating turnovers and not turning it over — unlike last week — will be key to the win, so will stopping the run. Ramirez knows that three long scoring possessions like last year can’t be allowed again for his Rams to get a win.

Furthermore, creating as many possessions for his offense as possible to have an opportunity to score is just as key. Despite last week’s offensive frustrations, it could actually help the Rams’ game planning this week.

“(St. Mike’s is) gonna stop what we do best, and last week, we didn’t do anything very good. So what are you gonna stop?,” Ramirez said, laughing. “Coming out, you’re probably gonna say, ‘Hey, that quarterback (Urioste) carried the ball a lot, so stop the quarterback.’ In terms of running the offense, we didn’t run the offense very well. That’s on us. We gotta get back to doing what we do right, and everything on offense should go smoothly.”


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