Clovis Christian cruised to victory against Hondo when the teams met on Sept. 24 at Hondo, winning 48-0 in a contest called at halftime on the 45-point lead rule.
That doesn’t mean it’ll be that easy tonight when the teams clash in a 6-man semifinal game at Jim Hill Field.
For one thing, top-ranked Clovis Christian (8-0) won’t have junior standout Kevin Naceanceno, sidelined by a broken right thumb suffered in the team’s 56-22 win at second-ranked Roy two weeks ago in the regular-season finale.
For another, CCS coach Jason Swann said Hondo (5-4), the defending state 6-man runnerup, is simply better than what it showed that day.
“They’re tough,” he said. “They’re a whole lot better than that. We played an incredible game, as well as we have all year.”
Hondo is coming off a 92-74 first-round win over Valley Christian, avenging an earlier loss.
Naceanceno, one of CCS’ top players on both sides of the ball, is trying to seek a second medical opinion and hopes to be able to play if the team reaches next week’s state finals.
Swann said he has moved some players around trying to cover for Naceanceno. Other than that injury, the Eagles are going in refreshed after having a bye in the first round.
“It was more (beneficial) to get people healthy than anything,” Swann said of the bye. “We took it real easy.”
Junior defensive end Daniel Graham said he’s confident the Eagles, who have beaten everybody by at least 45 points except Roy, can cover for the injury.
“One of the things we’ve been concerned about this year is to stay humble, no matter what the record is,” Graham said. “With Kevin gone, everyone has to pick up the slack. As long as we can each do our job, you have to trust your teammates to do their jobs.”
Graham said he expects to see a better Hondo team this time.
“They’re definitely a different team (from the earlier meeting),” he said. “They know how to win state championships, or at least get there.”
CCS has held opponents to 67 points this season, including four shutouts. Kevin Naceanceno played a big part in that with 12 interceptions.
Swann said if his team reach the finals, there will be a coin flip for home field since CCS hasn’t faced either team in the playoffs before.