If the Clovis Wildcats expect to go far in the Class 5A playoffs, they’ll have to win on the road. And they’ll have to start Friday night.
Factoring in the Wildcats’ bye week and home games against Artesia, Manzano and Hobbs, Friday’s District 4-5A game at Carlsbad will be the first time in a month Clovis (4-5, 1-0) gets on a bus.
The road hasn’t treated Clovis well. The Wildcats are 0-3 away from home and have been outscored 63-17.
“We’ve done a horrible job this year playing on the road,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “If we want to play in the playoffs, we’ve got to learn to play on the road.”
If the Wildcats (5-5) get the automatic playoff berth as district champion, or an at-large bid at 4-6 if Carlsbad pulls the upset, they’re guaranteed to be on the road in the second round — and possibly the first if given one of the last four seeds in the 12-team field.
The top four seeds in the 12-team tournament receive a first-round bye and home-field advantage in the state quarterfinal round.
Carlsbad (6-3, 1-0) and Clovis are both coming off lopsided wins against Hobbs — Clovis 54-14 before its bye, and the Cavemen 42-22 last week. Kelley said the Cavemen rallied in the second half after Hobbs missed extending a first-half lead to two scores.
“Carlsbad does a good job on defense, and they did a better job than Hobbs,” he said. “They spread you from sideline to sideline and they run the ball. You’ve got to be able to make some tackles and take care of things.”
Junior running back Eric Galindo has rushed for 1,158 yards and scored 21 touchdowns (15 rushing, six receiving). Kelley said the Cavemen have been solid with senior Brandon Mendoza at quarterback.
“He’s definitely not the runner (Jacob) Galindo was,” Kelley said. “But he throws the ball well, and he does a good job doing the things he has to do.”
Senior Tucker Martin said Eric Galindo is the biggest threat, but receivers Lee Franco and Martell Runnels are threats as well.
“They have a couple of really athletic kids on offense,” Martin said. “I think they have a few more guys they can put the ball in the hands of (compared to previous seasons).”
The Wildcats are hoping with a win to get possibly the seventh seed in the playoffs. Whatever the case, Martin feels the team is ready.
“We’ve had some really good practices,” Martin said. “It’s the second season and I think we’re merging together now.”