For the last week, the Clovis Wildcats have done their best to forget the nightmare against La Cueva.
“Friday’s definitely over with,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said of Friday’s 49-0 loss at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque. “We’re not going to change anything. We’re going to work harder and get better.”
Rio Rancho’s been busy forgetting the rout, too.
When the Wildcats visit the 2-2 Rams tonight, first-year coach David Howes is expecting a battle between squads that have historically had nailbiters since the Rams’ football program started 11 years ago.
“That’s still Clovis, New Mexico, and it’s being led by Eric Roanhaus,” said Howes, promoted from the defensive coordinator role in the offseason. “Plenty of years, they’ve lost some ballgames early in the season and they get better and better and better, and they’re always in the playoff hunt and in the top four.
“In no way do we feel like that debacle last week was a reflection of what that team is.”
Instead, the loss reflects what Clovis (3-1) knows it can’t be. After holding on for a trio of close wins to open the 2009 campaign, everything fell apart for the Wildcats in a 430-yard, running-clock-at-halftime night for La Cueva.
“We had two really bad practices before the La Cueva game, and you play like you practice,” Kelley said. “We just quit last week. There’s no way around it; we quit. We just need to handle adversity.”
This week, they’ll need to handle the spread. Following the graduation of 2,000-yard back Troy Harris — he has 244 yards rushing and six touchdowns in three games this season for Eastern New Mexico University — the Rams employed a spread offense.
“We’re averaging over 350 yards in passing,” Howes said, “so it’s (been progressing) pretty good.”
The Rams hung around with Clovis last year, primarily due to a 5-2 defense that held off the nail-in-the-coffin touchdown. Kelley said the Rams lost some size off that defense, but their level of aggressiveness is just the same.
Howes figures the turnover battle will be the biggest factor, as each team seeks to rebound from a loss. The Rams were defeated by Goddard last week.
“You’ve got two teams that are somewhat young and still searching for an identity,” Howes said. “With teams like that, it’s going to be a matter of mistakes.”
Senior defensive end Richie Chavez said the mistakes can’t come from the Cats.
“We just have to get in good position, mainly,” Chavez said, “and stop their big plays.”
Following Friday’s loss, the one positive for the Wildcats is there’s a window of time to correct mistakes before District 4-5A play starts in October.
“It’s going to be a short season if we don’t get our act together,” Chavez said. “I think we can handle it, though.”
Clovis (3-0) at Rio Rancho (2-2)
7 p.m. today
Rio Rancho High School
Radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM; KWKA 680 AM; KICA 98.3 FM.
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 32nd season, 293-101-5; Rio Rancho, David Howes, first season, 2-2.
Last week: Clovis took a 49-0 beating against La Cueva at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque. At home, the Rams suffered a 35-28 loss to defending Class 4A champ Goddard.
Last meeting: 2008, Clovis won 21-18 at Leon Williams Stadium. The Rams trailed 21-3 early in the first quarter, but held the Wildcats without a first down while making their ill-fated comeback.
Rio Rancho players to watch: QB Cohen Mangin, Sr., 6-3, 240; LB Jake Pearson, Sr. 5-11, 205; WR Jeric Magnant, Sr., 6-0, 160.
Notes: Junior Quran Wiggins is halfway to a 1,000-yard campaign with 564 yards rushing on 86 carries. … Clovis has yet to record a passing touchdown, though senior Kyler Brewer-Hill leads the squad with 176 yards on 12-of-31 passing. Seniors Michael Johnson (5 catches, 76 yards) and Blake Wiley (3-60) and junior Darien Borders (4-67) have been the main targets. … Senior LB Emery Sierra leads Clovis with 38 tackles — 16 solo and 22 assists. Sierra has also forced two fumbles. Senior DE Richie Chavez leads the team with 1.5 sacks and four tackles for loss.