The Clovis Wildcats came home from Rio Rancho two weekends ago with a two-game losing streak, and a surprise waiting for them in the locker room.
The team’s logo that adorns the center of the locker room floor, protected by a thick layer of glass, wasn’t visible. It was instead covered by butcher paper and a sheet of paper that reads, “Once upon a time, this locker room was inhabited by players who acted, practiced and played like champions.”
Point made, senior receiver Blake Wiley said.
“We were like, ‘Dang, we need to step it up and get in gear,” Wiley said.
The logo is still covered, even after Clovis’ 31-14 win over Goddard last week. But the Eldorado Eagles would’ve brought more than enough motivation, in any case, in today’s 7 p.m. clash at Leon Williams Stadium.
The Class 5A runnersup dealt Clovis its first loss of the season 22-21 in overtime last year, and took a 10-7 win in the 5A semifinals for the Wildcats’ only defeats of 2008.
“It hurt pretty bad; both of those games were pretty close,” Wiley said. “It’s definitely a redemption game.”
Eldorado coach Charlie Dotson, 23-7 in his three seasons as Eldorado’s coach, said an Eagles team that went 12-1 last season got circled on a lot of calendars for 2009.
“We had the same thing last week with Mayfield,” Dotson said. “La Cueva picked us for their homecoming. It’s something we’ve faced the last few weeks.”
Their motivation? Break a three-game losing streak.
Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said Eldorado’s losses to Cibola, La Cueva and Mayfield weren’t blowouts, and the expectation is another tough game tonight.
“They do some really good things defensively,” Kelley said. “They’re physical and they take care of their assignments.”
The Eagles lost plenty of starters due to graduation — Dotson said quarterback Arvin Day is the only regular offensive starter back — but Kelley said the Eldorado offense is still talented enough to score via big play or grinding out a 15-play drive.
“The thing to (avoid),” Kelley said, “is when they go four yards, five yards, four yards, the clock goes quick.”
Dotson said the Eagles have been steadily improving as the season’s gone on, and added the Wildcats have done so as well to the surprise of nobody. But he wouldn’t mind a hiccup.
“We hope we get the Clovis team that made all kinds of mistakes (in September),” Dotson said, “and not the Clovis team that showed up last week.”
Eldorado (2-3) at Clovis (4-2)
7 p.m. Friday
Leon Williams Stadium
Radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM; KWKA 680 AM; KICA 98.3 FM.
Coaches: Eldorado, Charlie Dotson, third season, 23-7. Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 32nd season, 294-102-5.
Last week: Clovis snapped a two-game losing streak, beating defending 4A champion Goddard 31-14. The Eagles fell to Mayfield 23-13 for their third-straight loss.
Last meeting: 2008, Class 5A semifinals, Eldorado edged the Cats 10-7 in Albuquerque. The Eagles held Clovis to 78 yards off offense, but needed a late special teams break on a punt to pin the Wildcats on the 1 and stifle a potential game-winning drive.
Eldorado players to watch: Sr. QB Arvin Day, 6-0, 200; WR Tyler McCulloch, 6-4, 195; Sr. RB Gary Maestas, 5-10, 190; Sr. LB Colton Fascitelli, 5-6, 184.
Notes: Senior quarterback Kyler Brewer-Hill is expected to play despite a collarbone injury suffered in the second half against Goddard last week. … Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said Brewer-Hill was given the option to delay surgery because playing won’t aggravate the injury any further. … A big game could get junior RB Quran Wiggins (840 yards on 126 carries) to a 1,000-yard season. Junior WR Darien Borders lead the Cats with seven catches for 100 yards. … Senior LB Emery Sierra has 57 tackesl — 21 solo and 36 assists — to lead Clovis. Senior DE Richie Chavez has four sacks, resulting in 25 lost yards for Wildcat opponents.
Go figure: Senior punter Andrew North has put five of his 24 punt attempts inside the 20.