After losing a two-touchdown lead two weeks ago, and taking a lead they couldn’t possibly lose last week, the Clovis Wildcats don’t plan on having much of a lead — or much of a deficit, for that matter tonight.
The La Cueva Bears (2-1) come to Leon Williams Stadium for what shapes up to be the most even matchup the Wildcats have had in the still-young season.
Highland coach Gary Sanchez, who saw the teams combine for wins of 41-6 (Clovis) and 35-6 (La Cueva) against his Hornets in the last two weeks, expects the teams will combine for 20 to 30 points.
Clovis assistant Darren Kelley concurs.
“If it’s a high-scoring game, it’s going to be a blowout,” Kelley said. “Every snap is important because you never know when a mistake is made or when you get a break. It’s going to be a fist fight.”
Kelley and senior linebacker Lane Ward contend the Wildcats (2-1) will have to play much better than their 1-1 stretch in Albuquerque the last two weeks. The Wildcats lost a 14-0 lead in the final four minutes, and made a few mistakes against a Highland team stretched thin by injuries.
Clovis never trailed and got to the running clock early in the fourth against Highland, but could have arrived there more quickly had it not been for two interceptions and two lost fumbles inside the Hornet 20-yard line.
“If we have four turnovers, I don’t think we can win the game this week.”
The key, Ward said, is stopping sophomore Ronnie Daniels, the former running back turned quarterback due to Bears injuries.
“He’s a lot bigger than last year,” Ward said of the 6-foot-2, 195-pound Daniels. “You’ve got to tackle better than we’ve done the last two weeks.”
Kelley said he can’t think of any position where Clovis would have a decided advantage on La Cueva, and Ward said the Wildcats must exploit their lone advantage.
“They’re big, powerful, fast, strong, pretty athletic, but I think we’re faster than La Cueva, Ward said. “I think our speed will help us out.”
Attempts to contact La Cueva coach Fred Romero were unsuccessful.
La Cueva (2-1) at Clovis (2-1)
7 p.m. today, Leon Williams Stadium
Coaches: La Cueva, Fred Romero, 9th season, 78-23. Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 31st, 278-96-5.
Last week: La Cueva lost to Las Cruces 28-14; Clovis beat Highland 41-6.
Last meeting: 2007, Clovis 21, La Cueva 17, state quarterfinals
La Cueva players to watch: Gus Bowe, Sr., RB-LB, 5-10, 190; Ronnie Daniels, So., QB, 6-1, 190; Isaiah Fuller, Sr., WR, 6-1, 170; Eric Nott, Sr., DL, 6-0, 200.
On the radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM; KWKA 680 AM; KICA 98.3 FM.
On TV: 6 p.m. Saturday, 5 p.m. Tuesday, KFCL-TV.
What to watch for: La Cueva will likely try to run over the smaller Wildcats. The Bears had a lot of success for a game and a half — La Cueva beat Clovis 26-21 during the regular season — until the Wildcats rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit win the playoff game. Clovis needs to keep the Bears honest with the pass.
Quick hits: Stefan Mills (298), Scott McMath (240) and James Howard (158) all have rushed for more than 150 yards for the Wildcats. ... While they don’t pass often, the Wildcats are averaging 27.3 yards a completion. ... Junior K Andy North is 13 of 14 on extra points. ... Senior LB Lane Ward leads the team with 27 tackles. Senior SS Denzel Pleasant (22) and junior LB Emery Sierra (20) are close behind ... Senior DT Lance Lukkar leads the team with 1 1/2 sacks.
Go figure: The Wildcats are averaging 53 yards on two kickoff returns this season.
— CNJ staff