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

Cats are Cruces-bound

 

November 7, 2018

Kevin Wilson

Clovis sophomore quarterback Chance Harris runs for a first down during the Wildcats' 10-7 loss Friday to La Cueva. The Wildcats are seeded 10th in Class 6A and travel to Las Cruces Saturday.

CLOVIS — You can take Clovis High’s football record, good and bad alike, and toss it in the trash.

It’s state playoff time. A brand new season.

“We were just telling the kids today, everybody’s 0-0 again,” Clovis head coach Cal Fullerton said after Monday’s practice at Leon Williams Stadium. “So our kids are excited, man. Ready to go, for sure.”

“Really excited,” Wildcats senior linebacker Ian Yruegas said Monday. “I was hoping we’d get to stay at home, but it’s still exciting.”

Clovis ended the regular season at 4-6, and when the playoff bracket was released last Saturday night, that record had earned the Wildcats a No. 10 seed in state 6A and a first-round away matchup against seventh-seeded Las Cruces (6-4), set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Las Cruces’ Field of Dreams.

Monday, the ’Cats began attacking the challenges of a long bus ride and Las Cruces itself. A sure sign of November football was that Monday’s practice wound down in Standard-Time dusk and darkness. In fact, it was pitch dark when they finally wrapped up, just before 6 p.m.

Ironic that the Wildcats were practicing under the stadium lights, because Saturday they will play their first day game of the season, their first day game at all since battling Eldorado at Albuquerque’s Wilson Stadium on Oct. 7 of last year.

“It’s different, for sure,” Yruegas said. “But we’ll just have to adapt and get used to it.”

The teams have played many common opponents, but trying to gauge Saturday’s outcome based on that seems futile. Las Cruces blew out Manzano, who shut out Clovis. But wait, Clovis beat Hobbs 32-21, yet Hobbs beat Las Cruces by nearly the same score, 36-21. The Wildcats routed Eldorado, who routed the Bulldawgs. But hold on, Las Cruces beat Rio Rancho, who beat Clovis. And the Bulldawgs were blown out by La Cueva, who Clovis nearly beat last Friday.

Huh?

“It’s kind of back and forth,” Fullerton said. “Really, 2 through 12 seeds are kinda just a toss-up I think for anybody right now. Whoever gets hot and gets playing good, playing their best football at the right time has a shot.”

Fullerton also noted that special circumstances existed for the Bulldawgs’ 70-42 loss to Eldorado and their 45-3 loss at La Cueva.

“Against Eldorado and La Cueva both, they had some starters out, had some injuries early on in the year,” Fullerton said. “They’ve got a lot of those kids back now, so they’re probably as healthy as they’ve been in a while. Kinda like us, so it oughta be pretty dang fun going up there and getting after those guys.”

And how best to do that?

“Same as always,” Fullerton said. “Mistake-free, no turnovers. Moving the chains offensively and then obviously defensively coming up with some big stops, especially on third downs, getting them off the field.”

“I think they’re pretty good, but they’re beatable,” Yruegas said. “We have a chance against them if we just execute and do what we need to do.”

Though the teams haven’t played in a game situation this season, their is some familiarity. The Wildcats included Las Cruces on their scrimmage circuit last summer, anticipating the possibility of playing this team or similar teams.

“It’s a team we wanted to scrimmage,” Fullerton said, “because we wanted to prepare for the rest of the season with a tough team during a scrimmage. So that’s the reason we scrimmaged those guys. We know going in that it’s going to be a big battle, for sure.”

And if the Wildcats win it, they move on to play second-seeded La Cueva, to whom they only lost 10-7 last weekend at Leon Williams Stadium.

“It’d be really nice,” Yruegas said, “coming out and getting revenge on ’em.”

“Not looking ahead,” Fullerton said, “but we don’t mind the side of the bracket we’re on. It’s a blessing when you’re 4-6 and you get into the playoffs, so we’re going to take advantage of it.”

 
 

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