Tucumcari High School football coach Dub Smith sounded confident about his team’s chances against the Class A Mora Rangers Friday Night at 7 p.m. “They (Mora) don’t have a lot of numbers as far as players,” said Smith, “but they did play Santa Rosa close last year. They will probably be throwing the ball a lot.”
Smith’s offense is set for Friday’s game but already, three projected starters are out with injuries. Nick Wiegel, tight end, Matt Braziel, wide receiver and Jonathan Reno, running back are each expected to sit out Friday’s contest.
Smith has total confidence in his starting quarterback, Chris McCasland, who was injured in last week’s scrimmage while playing defense. McCasland said he is ready to play this week..
A freshman, D. J. Martinez, will be starting at one of the running back positions Friday. He will be joined by all-state running back Eric Holt and fullback Michael Baca. Smith said Holt and Baca shined in last week’s scrimmage against St. Michael’s. “Eric Holt is a great running back,” said Smith. “He also made an interception at safety and ran it back for a touchdown Friday. Michael Baca has good hands. A lot of teams don’t use fullbacks as receivers but Michael can catch the ball.” Coaches said they were pleased by the play of the new Rattler linemen in last week’s scrimmage. Drew White will be playing tackle on both sides of the ball. Justin Garcia, who made second team all-district last year will start at center and defensive tackle. Brian Lopez will play nose guard and offensive guard. Josh Villegas will be the other guard on offense. Ken Mercer will start at offensive tackle.
Steven Taylor will be starting for Nick Wiegel at tight end. Taylor will also be playing some split end and speedster Nemie Salvador will be starting at wide receiver along with Justin Benavidez Friday.
On the defensive end, Michael Baca will be the starting linebacker. He will be rotating with Mark Salas and Dustin Russell. Chris McCasland and Eric Holt will be the deep backs. Backup quarterback Josh Benavidez will also see time at a cornerback spot along with Salvador and D. J. Martinez. McCasland and Holt will be returning punts and kickoffs this season. Smith has still not decided who the kicker will be. Michael Baca and Anas Badshah are competing for that position. Mora Head Coach Nicholas Casados thinks his Class A Rangers will match up well with Class AA Tucumcari.
“We return all starters except a tight end and a fullback,” said Casados. “We were 5-3 last year.”
Casados said he has an experienced junior quarterback.
“He can throw the ball long,” said Casados. “We will run and pass. The kids here are excited and ready to play Tucumcari.”