Rattlers kick off new season

William Thompson

The Tucumcari High School football team lines up against the Mora Rangers Aug. 27 and coaches aren’t sure yet how the young Rattler linemen will respond.

“Our big question mark is our line,” said running back coach Gary Hittson,”That’s what everybody’s going to be looking at.” Line coach Wayne Ferguson said his young offensive and defensive linemen must exhibit “spirit.” “We have four sophomore linemen who will probably be starting on offense and defense,” said Ferguson. “You have to have an aggressive nature to be a lineman. They have been working on the sled for conditioning and we are improving their technique by having them fire off out of their stance through a chute. The chute teaches them to stay low.”

The Rattler linemen will be facing many opponents with greater experience. Head Coach Dub Smith said many teams the Rattlers will face are returning a majority of starters. “Clayton and Santa Rosa will have all their people back,” said Smith, “and NMMI led their district last year and they will have ten players on both sides of the ball coming back.” If the Rattler offensive line can provide protection this year, Rattler fans should see a lot of scoring. Coach Hittson said the running backs are solid. “We are deep at running back,” said Hittson. “One of our backs rushed for more than 1,200 yards last season.”

Coach John Span said the Rattler receivers need a little work. “They need to work on running crisp patterns,” said Span. “I think that after they get a few games under their belts they will do really well.” The starting lineups have not been finalized yet. As of Thursday morning, coaches were still trying to decide who would be the starting kicker.
Last year’s starting quarterback and backup quarterback are returning. Coach Span said the quarterbacks still need more repetitions with the receivers. As for the defensive secondary, Span said he’s got three defensive backs that he feels very confident about.

Head Coach Smith said the players know his system.
“We have installed our whole offensive package,” said Smith. “Now the players will have to execute it.”