Beating La Cueva can be done. That’s how the Bears ended up on the same side of the bracket as the Clovis Wildcats.
The question is whether the defending 5A champions can be beaten again, this time by 10th-seeded Clovis today at Wilson Stadium.
The Wildcats (5-6) know the odds are stacked against them, considering they’ve already lost to La Cueva 41-21 and the Bears may feel like they’ve got something to prove after losing 56-55 against Manzano in the regular-season finale. The loss knocked La Cueva to the second seed, while Manzano received the top seed and is hosting Carlsbad.
“We can beat them,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “We just have to tackle.”
Particularly, the tackling is needed on La Cueva phenom Ronnie Daniels. The 6-foot-2, 205-pound senior has had the Wildcats on a few of his career highlight games, including a 278-yard, four-touchdown performance last year and a 322-yard, three-touchdown effort this year.
He’s coming off a seven-touchdown performance against Manzano and owns New Mexico prep records for career scoring (612 points) and touchdowns in a single season (38 so far).
Clovis expects Daniels, who is starting school in January at Texas Tech, to add to both of those marks.
“He’s going to score, don’t get me wrong,” Kelley said. “We’ve got to wrap him up. We’ve got to not let them get 30, 40 yards on one play.”
Clovis quarterback and safety Jordan Hill said the Bears also have a big-play threat in fullback Stan Sedberry. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Sedberry had a 63-yard scoring run against the Wildcats, one of three La Cueva touchdowns of 30 or more yards that night.
Offensively, the Wildcats will need a solid day, but Kelley doesn’t think trying to score 56 is in Clovis’ best interests.
“We need a fast game,” Kelley said. “We have to score in eight-play drives, and make them go more than eight plays.”
Hill wants a more even offensive attack. It’s not that he’d mind another three-touchdown performance from senior Corbin Best, but he knows that alone won’t put Clovis in the semifinals.
“We never did get our run game going,” Hill said. “All three of our touchdowns came through the air last time. We need to get our ground game going, be two-dimensional.”
If Clovis pulls the upset, it would have a decent chance to host a semifinal game. The Wildcats would flip a coin for homefield with No. 3 Cleveland, while No. 6 Mayfield owes them a home game because the two faced off in Las Cruces in last year’s semifinals.