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

Regional football preview: Playoff spots in local sights

 

October 10, 2018

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari defenders Kaleb Hayes, left, and TJ Lampkin tackle Texico's Brayden Bender during Friday's game at Rattler Stadium. Texico hosts Fort Sumner Friday night.

There are crucial high school football games everywhere, as October grinds into its second week.

Playoff spots, playoff positioning, it’s all starting to come into focus.

Here’s a look at the upcoming weekend of games, a full slate:

Friday

Seagraves at Farwell, 6 p.m. MDT

When he was still fresh off his team’s road win over Dimmitt — its fourth straight victory since an opening-week loss to Friona — Steers head coach Danny Brittain took a little time to peer ahead past his bye week, to Farwell’s Oct. 12 district opener against Seagraves.

“They’re a little down this year, I think,” Brittain said, “but knowing Seagraves and knowing Coach (Steve) Heryford, he’s going to have them ready to play because they always get better as the season goes along. And winning would be big for them.”

Seagraves will be looking to reach .500, currently standing at 2-3. But preventing Farwell’s fifth consecutive win could prove a tall task.

The Steers have averaged 39 points per game during their win streak. The 28 they put on Dimmitt was actually their low during the four games, as they scored 47 at Crosbyton, 42 against Olton and 39 at Texico.

Farwell has two quarterbacks with similar passing stats. Leefe Actkinson has so far thrown for 282 yards, Leo Ruiz 242. Actkinson has completed 42 percent (21-of-50), Ruiz 46 percent (13-of-28). They each have thrown four interceptions, though Actkinson has six touchdown passes to Ruiz’s three.

Ruiz has had less pass attempts, but has rushed the ball more, keeping it 49 times for 123 yards and six touchdowns as compared to Actkinson’s 29 rushes for 81 yards and two scores.

And then there’s senior running back Ricardo Ortega. No opponent has had much success stopping him.

Through five games, Ortega has already rushed for 822 yards and four touchdowns on 79 carries, averaging 10.4 yards per carry. He should again be a force against Seagraves, with the added motivation of being just 178 yards away from 1,000 for the season. 178 is a few ticks above his yards-per-game average of 164.4, but he did get 188 against Dimmitt.

Farwell’s defense is opportunistic, collecting three interceptions at Dimmitt, thanks to the three Rs — Ramon Reyes, Jose Rodriguez and Ruiz.

So there’s a lot about Farwell to have Seagraves concerned.

“It’ll be a good match-up for us,” Brittain said, “and if we can get that one taken care of, it oughta set us up for district.”

Melrose at Dora, 7 p.m.

A healthy Melrose could be a dangerous Melrose.

The Buffaloes got healthier for their game at Tatum last week and fell just short, 36-34, after far more decisive losses in the previous four weeks.

Dora head coach Mason McBee, tasked with stopping the Buffs this Friday, has taken notice of their improvement.

“You can see that reflected in their 36-34 loss to Tatum,” McBee said. “They’ve got everybody back. I hope we play them close, I hope it’s a close game.”

Dora is 5-2 overall, 1-1 in Eight-Man District 3, and coming off a 28-26 win over Logan. Melrose, largely due to its injuries, stands at 1-5 overall, 0-2 district. But those records won’t be a predictor of how Friday’s game will go.

“I talk to their coach (Caleb King). We have a good working relationship,” McBee said. “We talked and I know he’s getting kids back ... and I think they’re starting to hit their stride. ... They’re going to be a good opponent and really tough to beat. We hope that we can play clean and keep staying healthy.”

Dora’s lone district loss so far came against state powerhouse Gateway Christian, and went better than the 48-6 final, according to McBee.

“We were right there with Gateway,” he said, “(but) gave up a punt return, pick-six, fumble at the 10-yard line. (The score) doesn’t really reflect the game we played with them. And we don’t have the depth, that really hurt us.”

Floyd at Springer/Maxwell, 7 p.m.

Floyd received an extra, unexpected bye week when this past weekend’s opponent, Roy/Mosquero, forfeited.

So the Broncos had a chance to heal a bit, always a good thing in football and especially in October. It also gave them a chance to rest up for this weekend’s long ride to Springer.

Floyd is 2-3 thus far, 1-2 in district, and hopes to reach .500 in both categories, but the journey to Springer has the Broncos playing a tough team. Though Springer/Maxwell absorbed its first Six-Man District 1 defeat last week, a 71-19 thumping against Elida, the Devils are 4-3 overall and Maxpreps’ 10th-ranked Six-Man team in the state.

“It’s tough. We haven’t seen them in the past, but they’ve got a lot of speed,” Floyd head coach Steve Foust said. “We’re just going to have to play our game, throw the ball.”

Foust believes his team is capable of doing that successfully.

“Yes, I do,” he said. “We’ve got a good offensive line. It’s going to be tough for them to match up with that.”

Fort Sumner/House at Texico, 7 p.m.

Reeling from a three-game losing streak after a 2-2 start, the Wolverines need to get things turned around this weekend.

But they will attempt to do that against a Fort Sumner/House team that’s 6-0.

Not that anything is pre-determined. As ESPN’s Chris Berman used to say, “That’s why they play the games.” But undefeated is undefeated.

Texico has Gabe Dickerman, who took over at quarterback in the second half of Friday’s game at Tucumcari. And though the Wolverines went on to lose 39-22, Dickerman was a highly-efficient 10-of-12 for 196 yards and three touchdowns.

Still, that Fort Sumner/House team is a juggernaut, having outscored its six opponents thus far 309-8, with those eight points-against scored by Jal on Sept. 14. Fort Sumner is averaging 51.5 points per game, while allowing 1.3.

Texico, though, will be home Friday while playing its District 6/7-2A opener. And motivation can go a long way.

Saturday

Elida at San Jon/Grady, 4 p.m.

Elida’s return to football after an eight-year absence has thus far been a successful one, punctuated by last week’s 71-19 rout at Springer/Maxwell.

That impressive win improved the Tigers to 6-1 overall, 3-0 in Six-Man District 1, and they look to roll on this Saturday. Elida head coach Jared Hestand likes his team’s chances of doing that against San Jon/Grady, even though the Bronchos are a respectable 3-3 overall, 1-1 district.

“They’re not nearly as good as Springer,” Hestand said. “They’re probably about like maybe Vaughn, so I think we can (win). They throw quite a bit and they run it quite a bit. ... As long as we can control their run game and their passing game, I think we can handle it.”

Hestand says his team proved last weekend how well it comes off the bus and plays hard after a long road trip, doing so to the tune of a 52-point rout after riding three and a half hours to Springer. So the much more reasonable one-hour-and-forty-five minute ride to San Jon shouldn’t be a problem, either.

“Our junior high (team) plays that day, too,” Hestand said, “so my high school boys will have time to check things out and get situated.”

 

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