As far as football venues go in New Mexico, few get the same respect as Clovis’ Leon Williams Stadium.
Today, the Wildcats visit one of the few exceptions — the Bulldog Bowl in Artesia.
“It’s unlike anything else in the state,” Clovis junior quarterback and safety Jordan Hill said. “They have a lot of pride.”
Conditions coming into the 7 p.m. affair would seem to favor the Wildcats, as Clovis (5-2) is on a two-game streak and Artesia is coming off the wrong end of a 42-7 decision against Las Cruces High.
“Our weaknesses are pretty evident when you get beat by Manzano and Las Cruces like we did,” said longtime Artesia coach Cooper Henderson, whose team absorbed a 63-20 defeat to the top-ranked Monarchs earlier this season. “It wasn’t one thing (in particular); we just didn’t match up well.”
But it’s the Bulldog Bowl, and it’s Artesia — more than enough reason to believe Clovis has no easy night on its hands.
“They can score fast and they can score a lot of points,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “If you’re not taking care of your business, they can beat you pretty easily.”
Both squads rotate their quarterbacks. The Bulldogs, who still run the spread offense which helped Landry Jones earn a scholarship to Oklahoma, now put the ball in the hands of senior Deven Nelson and junior Josh Houghtaling on alternating series.
Clovis does the same thing with Hill, a junior, and senior Kyler Brewer-Hill.
“In our situation, we’ve got two guys we like that give us different things,” Kelley said, touting Brewer-Hill’s passing ability and Hill’s speed as an option runner. “They’re thinking the same thing.”
After scouting Clovis’ wins over Goddard and Eldorado the last two weeks, Henderson said the Bulldogs are prepared for a strong Wildcats squad.
“Up front, their defense is pretty physical,” Henderson said. “Offensively, they’re pretty standard Clovis. They’re going to run it down your throat unless you stop them, and they can throw the ball, too.”
And hosting the Wildcats will be standard Artesia.
“They’ve been running (the spread) for a long time, they know what they’re doing,” Hill said. “They execute it really well.
“They’re always going to have a good team. They come to play every night.”
Clovis (5-2) at Artesia (4-2)
7 p.m. today
The Bulldog Bowl, Artesia.
Radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM; KWKA 680 AM; KICA 98.3 FM.
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 32nd season, 295-102-5. Artesia, Cooper Henderson, 21st season at Artesia, 196-60.
Last week: Clovis defeated Eldorado 26-14 for its second-straight win. The Bulldogs are coming off a 42-7 loss at Las Cruces High.
Last meeting: 2008, Clovis 34-24.
Artesia players to watch: Sr. QB Deven Nelson, 6-2, 196; Jr. QB/WR Josh Houghtaling, 6-0, 192; WR Ryan Bledsoe, 6-0, 161; Jr. LB Chris Morales, 5-10, 194.
Notes: Junior RB Quran Wiggins, held to a season-low 58 yards rushing last week, leads the Wildcats with 898 yards on 146 carries. … Senior LB Emery Sierra leads the Wildcats with 65 tackes — 24 solo and 41 assists. … Wiggins leads the Wildcats with 48 points, all on rushing touchdowns, while senior K Andrew North is second with 27 points on 15 extra points and four field goals. … DE Richie Chavez, with three sacks last week against Eldorado, has seven on the season, tying the school season record set last year by both Morris Sharp and Dustin Williams.
Go figure: Dating to last season, Sierra has returned three of his last four interceptions for touchdowns.