By Ryan Lengerich
The Rattlers aren’t getting any healthier.
Entering last Friday’s game against the New Mexico Military Institute, senior running back Rob McClelland was out with a knee problem, starting sophomore quarterback Chris McCasland spent the night fighting a weak ankle and senior lineman Joe Sisneros missed practice during the week with a virus. Consequently the Rattlers were slaughtered 49-14 by the Class 3A powerhouse.
That loss didn’t make them any healthier.
Add back-up sophomore quarterback Josh Benevidez and junior tight end Nick Wiegel to list of walking wounded.
Benevidez broke his finger in the loss and will miss the next two weeks while Wiegel slightly sprained his knee and is questionable for Friday.
The Rattlers (4-1) meet Texico (5-0), Class 1A’s No. 1 ranked team 7 p.m. Friday at Rattler stadium in the Homecoming game. Texico shocked the Rattlers last season, handing them the season’s first loss 25-15.
“They have an outstanding offensive line, they do a great job offensively and defensively on the line of scrimmage,” Smith said. “Our line will have to play the best game of the year.”
Texico returns 10 starters from last year’s state runner-up team whose first loss did not come until the state finals.
Sophomore running back Eric Holt is one of few healthy Rattlers left in the backfield and for him last weeks loss was not all bad.
“It is always good to have a first loss,” Holt said. “We don’t think we are big headed anymore.”
With players playing both sides of the ball, the defense has felt the wrath of injuries as well. McCasland, an all-district secondary player saw little defensive action against NMMI.
Secondary coach John Span said he needs players to step up such as junior Steven Taylor, who had an interception against NMMI.
“We just don’t have a lot of speed back there now,” Span said. “We can’t give up the home run.”
Span said the Rattlers weren’t prepared mentally for an intense and disciplined NMMI team.
“Maybe it’s an eye opener,” he said. “Some of the kids were thinking because we were ranked number one all we had to do was show up.”