When asked what defensive backs he emulates, Clovis senior Denzel Pleasant answered Indianapolis Colt Bob Sanders — small in stature, but a difference maker for a Super Bowl champion.
Pleasant has been the same way early on. Listed at 5-foot-8, 172 pounds — just as tall, and 30 pounds lighter than the two-time Pro Bowler Sanders — Pleasant came up big on the defensive side Friday with a third-quarter interception of Eldorado quarterback Arvin Day.
Two plays later, Moses Bibbs hauled in a 30-yard scoring reception to give the Wildcats a 14-0 lead, and Pleasant said knowing he helped contribute was “the sweetest feeling you can ever have.”
Those are the feelings the Wildcats (1-1) would like to replicate against the spread offense of the Highland Hornets — not the sour feelings from losing a two-touchdown lead in the game’s final four minutes.
“Hopefully they learned something from it,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “It’s going to be a long season if we don’t learn something.”
Defending the pass is a key against the Hornets (1-1), Kelley said. Highland runs most of its offense through quarterback-turned-running back Rolando Trammel, who is moved all over the field. Kelley said he expects about a 70 to 30 pass to run ratio.
The Hornets, coming off a 35-6 loss to La Cueva, aren’t a deep team, Kelley said, but they make up for it with their athleticism.
“The thing with their talent is they can go the distance any time they want,” Kelley said. “You’ve got to be able to keep them from having that big play.”
Those were the killers last week. One Eldorado touchdown came on a 30-yard pass, and another was set up by a 31-yard punt return.
Though the Wildcats would prefer three-and-outs every time, Kelley said the preference is for the opposition to earn a score with a double-digit play drive.
“We want to bend, but not break,” Kelley said. “We did a good job until the last four minutes.”
Those are four minutes Pleasant doesn’t want repeated.
“We got tired in the end, and I think that was a factor,” Pleasant said. “It hurt pretty bad. We’re going to have to work harder this week.”
Attempts to contact Hornets coach Gary Sanchez were unsuccessful.
What: Clovis (1-1) at Highland (1-1)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Milne Stadium, Albuquerque.
Radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM, KKYC 102.3, KICA 980 AM.
Last meeting: 2005, Clovis 41-7.
Last week: Clovis, 22-21 overtime loss at Eldorado; Highland, 35-6 loss to La Cueva.
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 31st season, 277-96-5 record; Highland, Gary Sanchez, 2nd, 6-6
Players to watch: Highland, RB Rolando Trammell (6-1, 160, Sr.), CB Seville Bell (5-11, 165, Sr.), LB James Salazar (5-9, 240, Sr.)