Rattlers lose nailbiter to Portales

By Thomas Garcia: Quay County Sun

BLACKWATER DRAW — The Tucumcari Rattlers’ record, if not impressive, is evidenced by a dedication to toughen up.
The Rattlers (1-5) have been on the side of defeat often this season, but often to a team of a higher classification.

Of Tucumcari’s five losses, one came against one 4A team Capital and three came against 3A teams: St. Michael’s, Albuquerque Academy and, most recently, a 7-6 nailbiter to Portales at Greyhound Stadium.

It’s these tough battles in September that Tucumcari coach Dub Smith hopes help the Rattlers stay on the field in November and December, when the Class 2A playoffs roll around.

“We‘re getting better as we play these larger schools,“ Smith said, “I’m never satisfied with a loss. But I feel that these games are molding us into a better team that will be a contender when district play comes around.”

Despite the losses the Rattlers remain positive as they continue their season. The highly physical season has had benefits for the Rattlers with its aggressive competition.

“The pace and physical play is far different than that of 2A,” said Rattler quarterback Matt Smith. “But by playing these games it helps to strengthen us and our endurance in a 2A match up is far better.”

For some players, the early schedule is like a badge of toughness and pride.

“I love playing the larger schools,” Tucumcari senior Brian Lopez said. “We have to play up to their level and we take that with us into district play. Other schools haven’t played as tough of schools as we have. I feel that will be an advantage for us.”

Playing the larger schools has some drawbacks, such as making the Rattlers more prone to injuries against bigger, more physical teams. This put younger players into key positions with moderate experience.

Senior Drew White, who was out due to an infection incurred during surgery, played for the first time since being medically released.

“It felt great playing my first game despite the loss,” White said. “I think a lot of teams are and will underestimate us.”

The Rattlers play at Dexter Friday in a non-district tuneup before their district opener at home Oct. 13 against the Mora Rangers.