The Clovis Wildcats would like to go into the Class 5A playoffs with a big winning streak. But there’s a big challenge in the way Friday night.
In what’s been a difficult schedule for the 3-4 Wildcats already, the third-ranked Manzano Monarchs are visiting Leon Williams Stadium in Clovis’ final pre-district tuneup.
The Monarchs, 5-1 and coming off a bye, are a lot like last week’s opponent, the Artesia Bulldogs. The difference, Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said, is the Monarchs have more size, so it would be tough to hold them to just a touchdown.
“Up front, they’re pretty big,” Kelley said, “and they do a pretty good job of coming off the ball.”
Kelley said the Monarch offense is similar to Artesia, except that they use the tight end more often.
“They’re one of the bigger teams we’ve played all year, a lot bigger than Artesia,” senior tackle Chris Sharp said. “We’ve got to be able to play harder and smarter the whole game.”
They primarily run counters, traps and blast plays, but do them out of numerous shotgun formations.
“They’ve been under center three times all year from what I’ve seen,” Kelley said, “and those were all obvious quarterback sneaks.”
Monarchs coach Aaron Ocampo, whose team has been idle since a 28-24 win over Cleveland on Oct. 1, said Manzano is at full strength for the first time this season.
But he figures Clovis is getting healthy too, and they’re about to get hot — not at the expense of the Monarchs, he hopes.
“Playing Clovis at this point wasn’t on the front of my schedule wish lists because Clovis plays great toward the end of the season and they have great talent,” Ocampo said. “Clovis has two great running backs, and actually three with Juan Rivas. Playing them is going to help us get better for our district opponents.”
The running backs are key, Ocampo said, because the Monarchs have to face La Cueva and Ronnie Daniels to close out the regular season.
The Wildcats have only district opponents left after Manzano, with a week off before Carlsbad and Hobbs.
“If we can pull the win off, we could have a streak going into the playoffs,” Sharp said. “Anything can happen from there.”