Portales compensated reasonably well last week when forced to confront a top-notch opponent without its best offensive threat.
Now the Rams will have to compensate even better if they hope to keep their football season alive.
Tonight at 7:00, Portales (3-7) will open the Class 3A playoffs by traveling to Hatch Valley. The Rams, who fell 63-35 to Academy last weekend, will go without senior running back Jesus Davalos for a second straight contest.
Davalos suffered a leg injury in the first half of an Oct. 30 game against Lovington and hasn’t been back on the playing field. In the loss to Academy to close the regular season, senior Zach Terry and sophomore Colin McAfee got playing time at the running back position and the Rams were able to put up plenty of points against the Chargers.
“What’s good about this type of offense is we can plug other people in. Zach ran hard and did a good job and Colin did too,” Portales coach Andy Correll said. “Jesus does a lot of special things, but we don’t change any of our play calling if he’s not in there.”
Hatch Valley (7-3) is the eighth-seed in the 3A postseason bracket while Portales is seeded ninth. By virtue of that, the Bears got to host the game — which will lead into a quarterfinal berth opposite top-ranked Lovington.
The good news for the multi-receiver Portales offense, at least according to Ruidoso coach Keif Johnson, is that yardage can be had against Hatch through the air. Johnson’s team played both teams in the regular season, losing 27-16 to the Bears and 54-39 to the Rams.
“What they struggle with is the pass coverage. We threw the ball great against them, but we went to the red zone five times and didn’t score,” Johnson said. “They (the Rams) can throw the ball against them.”
The Bears do have their assets, the Ruidoso coach adds, including 6-foot-3 junior lineman Chantze Carson and a line that’s overall “one of the biggest we’ve faced all year long.”
“They’re extremely big. Both of their tackles are over 300 pounds; they’ve got a great quarterback who likes to run it,” Correll said. “They’ll run some option and lead with their quarterback. We’ve got to take him out at least as far as their schemes are concerned.”
When they played in Class 2A, Hatch Valley won three straight state championships. Now the Bears have a new head coach whose also familiar with gathering in state crowns.
Jack Cisco, Hatch’s coach, was at the helm for Roswell High when the Coyotes earned the Class 4A blue trophy back in 2000.
“He’s a great football coach and gets a lot out of his kids, so he’ll definitely have them ready,” Correll said.