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

By Dave Wagner
Staff writer 

Rams open with neutral-site clash


Last updated 3/2/2021 at 4:41pm

PORTALES — Jaime Ramirez and the Portales Rams aren’t dealing with anything other teams aren’t as they try to wind their way through an abbreviated football season.

Numbers are down a bit and everybody is trying to do the best he can to get ready for the start of play.

Defending Class 4A champion Portales, with 30 players on its varsity squad, opens its four-game slate with a neutral-site game on Friday against former District 4-4A rival Moriarty at Santa Rosa.

“My numbers are down, but I think that’s the same for everyone in the state,” said Ramirez, beginning his ninth season at PHS. “The guys we have, I’ve been real pleased with.”

Teams have less than two weeks of full practices to get ready for this weekend’s openers. Most are just glad to be able to play.

“It’s different, just because we haven’t played in a while,” said senior quarterback Baylor Diaz, who missed three full games in 2019 with an ankle injury. “But we’ll be ready to go. I just want to play the best that I can and stay healthy, and help my team win.”

Ramirez acknowledged that it’s a quick jump into the schedule.

“It’s definitely going to be hot and heavy,” he said. “I think for anybody, there’s going to be an adjustment to (live) tackling and things like that.”

Only a handful of fulltime starters return for the Rams (12-1 in 2019). Besides Diaz, others back on offense include senior slotback Dason Davis and four juniors — wide receiver Hagen Rains, linemen Dylan Looney and Brayden Mignard and running back Ethan Conrow.

On the defensive side of the ball, Davis is back at an outside linebacker position, with Rains at free safety and Mignard and Looney filling the end slots.

Rains and the graduated Kellan Hightower filled in capably last season when Diaz was sidelined. This spring, Ramirez said Davis is getting a look in that role.

“My motivation is to get another state championship and try to get ready for the next level,” Davis said. “I want to play football in college.”

Ramirez said he’s talked to other coaches who are dealing with a lot of the same issues as his squad.

“Everybody’s going through it,” he said. “They all say they’ve lost some players who were going to be able to contribute.”

He said Moriarty has been cooperative in terms of exchanging film and the like, but noted the Pintos’ administration wasn’t comfortable with the team traveling all the way to Portales, thus creating a neutral-site situation.

However, it leaves PHS with just one true home game — next week against Dexter. The Rams’ final two outings are at Ruidoso and at Lovington.

What will happen after that has not been determined. The New Mexico Activities Association is looking at the possibility of matching teams up in a one-game “bowl” type of scenario, with the possibility of the top two meeting to determine a state champion.

Diaz said Moriarty will provide a solid test in the opener.

“They’re a physical team, and we have to match that,” he said. “Our defense will have to stay up and be physical with them.”

While depth could be an issue, Ramirez thinks the Rams should have their bases covered.

“I feel we’re blessed that we have some guys coming back who are versatile,” he said. “I think for anybody in New Mexico, numbers are down.

“Moriarty is going to be a good football team. We just want to be 1-0 at the end of each game.”


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