Team still smiling

By Ryan Lengerich

As the Rattlers finished sprints Tuesday at practice, the team was tired, but smiling.

A far cry from how the despair after a 40-0 blowout loss to Texico at home last Friday.

“I just told everybody that everybody loses,” said senior lineman A.J. Molinas. “We just have to come back and play hard and those games don’t matter, the state championship matters.”

The Rattlers will make the 4-hour trip across the state to take on the aerial attack of Laguna Acoma Friday at 7 p.m.
“We all feel like we have something to prove, everybody is doubting us so we have to come back and play hard,” Molinas said.

Rattlers head coach Dub Smith said Laguna is likely to pass the ball on 85 percent of their offensive plays. To get the team ready, Smith let the players hit more in practice. He also played game film of last years Laguna game. The Rattlers won 54-22.

“That got the team excited seeing that game and seeing how well they played,” Smith said.

Before the loss to Texico, the Rattlers struggled against the New Mexico Military Institute in a 35-point loss. Turnovers hurt the Rattlers in both losses and the team fumbled four times against Texico. Junior running back Michael Baca fumbled three times in that game, but the powerful back talked with his coach before practice Monday.

“(Smith) told me just to run like I have been running and not to worry about anything else,” Baca said. “It’s more of a mental thing I know it is. I am thinking not to do it and that is exactly why I am doing it.”

Baca said he has never had a fumbling problem since he began his high school career, and he doesn’t expect the problem to last.

“I just have to hold onto the ball and get over fumbling the ball,” he said.

Junior receiver Nick Wiegal is questionable for the game this weekend. Smith said he doesn’t want to risk further knee injuries to the all-district player and needs him to be healthy when district play begins against Clayton next weekend.

“It is a tough situation in that you are in a district competition next week and the end result is that two teams go on and one good football team is going to be left at home,” Smith said. “We don’t want that to be us.”