The Tucumcari High School football team takes on Clayton at home Friday night in what Rattler coach Dub Smith called, “the biggest game of the year.”
The Yellowjackets come off a win at Estancia in which they racked up nearly 500 yards of offense. Coaches for both teams recognize the importance of this first district game of the season. Clayton Coach Coby Beckner said the loser of the Clayton-Tucumcari game will be in trouble.
Whoever loses this game will be behind the eight ball when they play Santa Rosa,” said Beckner. “One of the three teams will be staying home this year when playoffs start.”
Coach Smith agreed with Coach Beckner. “Whoever wins this game has the inside track on getting into the playoffs,” he said.
Coach Smith did not want to speculate as to how much trouble the Rattlers would have to go through should they lose to Clayton. Tucumcari plays Santa Rosa next week. Clayton has a week off before they have to play Santa Rosa.
Coach Smith is looking for any edge his team can get as they face the Yellowjackets. “We need to put the fans in the stands against Clayton,” said Smith. “They are a big rivalry for us and I know they are going to bring a lot of fans to the game. This is the most important football game we will have played this year.”
The Yellowjackets need little motivation to get psyched for Tucumcari. “Our loss last year to Tucumcari lingers in my mind more than any other loss,” said Coach Beckner. “We were leading 20-0 and they came back and beat us 28-20.”
Likewise, Coach Smith said his players need little motivation this week. “We don’t have to tell our players how important this game is,” said Smith. “They know how important it is. This is going to be an exciting game. I think that any fan who misses this game will regret it.”
Coach Beckner, like every other opposing coach this season, said his team’s main defensive task is to stop Rattler Eric Holt. Coach Smith said the upcoming game against Clayton is what a football coach lives for.
“You hear coaches talk about a big game in the Big Ten in college, but for high school coaches, a game like this is really big,” he said. “I am really excited about this game.”