Muleshoe coach David Wood has plenty of reasons to believe in the offense that carried his team to a Texas Class 2A Division I state championship a year ago.
And even if Portales changes the emphasis to the same offense, Wood is still a believer — especially in the Rams’ personnel.
The Mules and Rams will tangle in a 7 p.m. clash today at Greyhound Stadium that is sure to feature plenty of offense.
Last weekend, Muleshoe beat Levelland 27-14 while Portales (1-0) squeaked by Robertson in a wild 42-41 shootout.
Wood took notice particularly of Rams senior running back Jesus Davalos, who broke loose for 342 yards rushing and added a 60-yard touchdown reception to boot.
“You’ve got to stop the running back. He’s awfully good,” Wood said. “If we stop him, we win the game. If we don’t stop him, there’s no telling what the outcome could be. He’s the one with the target on his back and I think everyone knows that.”
The Mules lost plenty off their state title squad from 2008. In fact, Wes Wood — the coach’s son — is a freshman quarterback at ENMU while cousin Lane Wood is a frosh linebacker on the Greyhounds.
Muleshoe is rebuilding its offense around quarterback Jared Skipworth and 6-5 wide receiver Cooper Washington. Running back Juan Sanchez and wide receiver Adrian Muniz came off the bench for the Mules last season.
“(Skipworth) was very much on target last week, but we had a lot of dropped balls,” Wood said. “We’re just young in our receiving corps and we’ve got to get better.”
Muleshoe beat Portales last year 63-35 and Rams coach Andy Correll, despite the loss, looked at the loss as a major turning point for his squad — which went on to win the Class 3A New Mexico state championship.
“We were neck-and-neck until about eight minutes left in the game and I think we just ran out of gas,” Correll said. “They were a very, very good football team. They struck first, then we struck back, they’d strike and we’d strike back. It gave our kids the confidence to believe in what we were doing.”
But what kind of confidence did it give the defense?
Correll thinks confidence wasn’t necessarily the end result, but the 60-spot hung by Muleshoe eventually left some residual positive effects on Portales.
“It really exposed some things we really needed to fix, especially with our secondary,” Correll said. “They probably run a little bit more than they did last year at this time, but they’re going to throw it all over the place.
“We run the same offense. It’s sling it everywhere and let your kids make plays.”