They both have district records of 1-1 as the last game of the regular season comes around. But when it comes to evaluating who will get selected to the postseason dance, Academy is in a significantly better position than Portales.
The Chargers will host the Rams in a 3 p.m. game today at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque in the regular-season finale for both squads.
Academy (7-2 overall) bounced back from a loss two weeks ago at Lovington to clobber Ruidoso 56-10 last weekend, ending two-game losing streak. On the other hand, Portales (3-6, 1-1) was coming off a two-game winning streak before being smashed by Lovington 64-14.
Rams coach Andy Correll knows his team might have a difficult time with the Chargers, who more than held their own at Lovington before losing 28-24 in earlier district play.
“They’re extremely well-coached and extremely disciplined,” Correll said. “They run about six offensive plays and they run them extremely well. They’re more of a power running team and try to get to the perimeter and use some of their speed. They’ll lull you to sleep and try to throw it over the top.”
As has been the case for several years, lack of depth is a problem with Academy. That’s only to a certain extent, however, as the team started the season with six straight wins.
For the Portales game, the Chargers will suit out only 19 players — with four starting on both offense and defense.
Kevin Clauss, Academy’s quarterback, and running back Brandon Branch make the Chargers’ offense click. And coach Kevin Carroll said his team hasn’t forgotten a 60-20 loss to Portales one year ago.
“They pounded us pretty good last year at their place,” Carroll said. “We have utmost respect for Portales football and we know it’s going to be a tough game.”
The Class 3A postseason tournament is limited to 12 teams and the field will be announced after a seeding committee meets on Sunday.
Correll thinks that his squad will certainly be part of the field if it is victorious over Academy, but he also believes the Rams will make the draw even if the last regular season game ends in a loss.
As for the team’s attitude through a mostly-disappointing season, Correll is more than satisfied.
“It’s been great and that’s what I’ve been really, really pleased about with this team,” he said. “No matter what we’ve gone through, they’ve responded extremely well. They’re still working hard, still have a great attitude. I’ve been part of a 1-9 season, a couple of 2-8 seasons, and really had to deal with attitudes. This group is exactly the opposite.
“That part’s been really pleasant. I think it’s been a lot harder on the coaching staff, honestly.”