Linebacker leads team in tackles
Published: Thursday, November 22nd, 2007
With braces and closely cropped, spiked blond hair, Lane Ward looks more like “The Shermanator” from “American Pie” than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s classic “Terminator.” On the football field, the Clovis junior linebacker’s relentless pursuit of ballcarriers would make Arnold’s cyborg character proud. Ward is a tackling machine, using his speed, smarts and a competitive fire to offset his lack of size. He’s generously listed at 5-foot-11, 175 pounds. A backup when the season started, Ward is the runaway leader in tackles with 105. The next best is junior strong safety Cerron Bailey’s 69. Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said most of Ward’s success comes from his desire to succeed. “He does a great job of getting around blockers,” Kelley said. “He’s not going to get a lot of big hits, but he’s always going to be around the ball.” Kelley also said Ward is extremely coachable. “If I go hard in practice and do things right in practice, it will carry over into the game,” Ward said earlier this week as the Wildcats prepared for a Class 5A state quarterfinal game against La Cueva. Deflecting the spotlight, Ward is also quick to point out the contributions of fellow junior linebacker Parker Wood. “Parker has helped out a whole lot. I know he’s got my back,” Ward said. “He’s really stepped it up.” Wood is third on the team with 50 tackles. Chess match: Clovis is using leading rusher Manuel Robles more as a receiver as opponents stack the line of scrimmage trying to take away the run. A 1,000-yard rusher, Robles has caught five passes for 147 yards and four touchdowns in the last two games. He’s averaging 26 yards a catch. Unbearable: The Wildcats have spent the last two weeks going over the game film from September’s 26-21 loss to La Cueva. Kelley said motivation shouldn’t be a problem today. “They’re tired of seeing the missed blocks. They’re tired of seeing the missed assignments. They’re tired of seeing themselves get run over.” Kelley hopes the sequel is more palatable for the Wildcats. Weather or not: Clovis has long relied on a strong running game. One reason is a run-based attack is less vulnerable to the wintry weather that often accompanies the playoffs. “One of the reasons we like to run the ball is because in New Mexico at some point in time you’re going to run into bad weather, typically later in the year. (Weather) doesn’t affect our game plan. The weather forecast for today is near freezing temperatures and possible snow. Passing grade: Partly by necessity, partly by design, the Wildcats are throwing the ball more on first and second downs. Senior quarterback Jordan Mendoza has thrown for 390 yards and five TDs in the last four games — all Clovis wins.
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