By Ryan Lengerich
For the Rattlers, Friday’s opponent nearly upset the No. 1 ranked Class 3A team in the state last week.
But they didn’t — and remain without a win this season.
The Rattlers (3-0) will face the Raton Tigers (0-3) at 7 p.m. Friday in the team’s first road test of the 2003 season.
“You have to totally look pass their record because they are playing at home and they’re coming off a game where to them it is a moral victory,” Rattlers head coach Dub Smith said. “So they feel pretty good about themselves right now.”
Raton lost a heartbreaker, 14-13, on the road last week at Portales. Raton first year head coach Brock Walton opted for a two-point conversion and a chance for the win against the top-ranked Rams, but quarterback Jacob Trujillo’s pass was knocked down in the end zone.
Friday will be the first of two consecutive road games for the Rattlers, who will play another 3A team, the New Mexico Military Institute, next week. NMMI is ranked No. 3 in the 3A coaches poll.
Senior running back Rob McClelland said he is not concerned about playing on the road, and if the Rattlers play to their potential they should not have any problems.
“We need to go on the road,” McClelland said. “We have been at home the last three weeks and we need a change.”
The Rattlers scrimmaged 3A member St. Michaels in the preseason and lost two touchdowns to one. Smith said he does not prepare his team any differently when playing a 3A school than he does playing a 2A school.
“We prepare for everyone we play like it is the championship ball game,” Smith said. “If they are not champions, it is not our fault.”
Last year the Rattlers dominated the Tigers in a 43-7 victory at Rattler Stadium. In that game the Tiger starting quarterback broke his leg. He was replaced by second string quarterback Jacob Trujillo. After becoming the starter for most of last year, Trujillo returns as a veteran this season. Smith is not counting this year’s game to be as easy as last years.
“I won’t be surprised if this game goes down to the fourth quarter or even further,” Smith said. “It may be turnovers and special teams that makes the difference.”
Special teams has not been a problem for the Rattlers, who have scored five special teams touchdowns in the past two games. Turnovers, however, are a different story. The Rattlers fumbled seven times against Estancia, losing two of them.
The Rattlers’ defense has not surrendered a point in three games this season, and Tucumcari has outscored their opponent 125-0 in the wins.
Smith said defeating a 3A team does not make a statement. After a state championship last season, the Rattlers have made their mark.
“The bottom line is we have a real good football program.”