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Wildcats look to avoid walking plank

Loss to Cooper would put Wildcats at 2-4 entering district play

 

September 28, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Clovis senior Demarco Fitch looks for running room in Friday's game against Coronado. The Wildcats face Lubbock Cooper tonight as they try to snap a three-game losing skid.

CLOVIS — It’s not the last weekend of Clovis High’s football season, not even close. But it is a last opportunity for the Wildcats.

When the ’Cats host Cooper High School tonight at Leon Williams Stadium (7 p.m.), it will be their last of three straight games against Lubbock teams. So far, they’re 0-2 in those games.

It’s also Clovis’ last of six non-district games to open the season. So far, the Wildcats are 2-3 in those, and next week they begin their District 2/5-6A slate when they visit Sandia in Albuquerque.

Meaning tonight is Clovis’ last mettle-testing opportunity against top-notch Texas competition. And that, after all, was the main reason head coach Cal Fullerton wanted three consecutive Lubbock games on his team’s schedule.

“No doubt. The No. 6-ranked team in Texas coming in, so we’ve got a challenge ahead of us,” Fullerton said late Thursday afternoon, when practice at Clovis High School had just ended. “We’re looking forward to it, man. Get on the field and get better than we were last week and try to get after it.”

Monterey and Coronado were tough enough, but tonight’s opponent is a doozy — an undefeated Cooper team, something the Wildcats didn’t have to face the last two weeks. As was the case in those two games, Clovis will be playing a prolific offensive team; this time, the most prolific of the three, as Cooper has rolled up 175 total points (43.8 per game) in its four games this season. The Pirates, in fact, began their season by putting 52 points on Andrews, then scored 43 on Coronado in overtime the following week. So the Wildcats’ defense will have to be on its game. Their offense, too.

“Yeah, for sure. We all will,” Fullerton said. “We’ll all have to be on our toes this week, because obviously the last couple of weeks we haven’t scored enough points to win. So that’s something we have to do when we get in the red zone is put points on the board. We’ve struggled with that pretty much all year, so that’s something we need to do — score for sure when we get in the red zone.”

The opportunities should be there for sophomore quarterback Chance Harris and his Wildcat teammates. Aside from ringing up lots of offense, Cooper also surrendered 50 points in its season opener at Andrews, then 42 at Coronado, and 131 overall (32.8 per game), which seems to indicate an opening for Clovis’ offense.

“Yeah, (the Pirates) have given up some points, they’ve been in some high-scoring ball games,” Fullerton said. “You get into some of those teams over there, they spread it out, put a lot of points on the board, and it’s back and forth a whole lot.

“But you know, at the end of the day when they’re ahead at the end of the game, that’s why their record’s 4-0.”

One thing Clovis won’t have on its side tonight is health, considering Fullerton’s lengthy list of new injuries.

“We’ve got (offensive/defensive lineman) Stephen Acosta, (offensive/defensive lineman) Logan Flores, (wide receiver/cornerback) Brandon Mason, (wide receiver/defensive end) Ro Morgan, (nose guard) Kaliano Apodoca,” Fullerton said, before adding a new concern that had just reared itself.

“Jeremiah (Lucero), we just lost him today, our safety,” Fullerton said. “He had to run to the emergency room; he had an irregular heartbeat or something like that. We’re not really sure what happened.

“So somebody brand new will be starting back there, too. So we’ve got some kids that are going to get a chance to play that don’t get to play those positions quite often. So they’re going to have to step it up. You know, next man up.”

If the players hitting the field tonight are able to sew everything together, come up with a win against one of the best teams in one of the best football states in the country, it would be huge for their confidence. Aside from halting their current losing streak at three, a victory tonight would catapult the Wildcats into their district schedule knowing they’re capable of beating just about anyone.

“But we’ll take it one game at a time,” Fullerton said. “Winning the football game (Friday) night would be just as big as anything going into districts. But if it doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen. We’ll still be excited to get districts going and we’ll go from there.”

 
 

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