Based on the numbers, Friday’s District 5-2A showdown is going to be like night and day for the Tucumcari Rattlers.
But the more Tucumcari looks at Texico, the more they see themselves.
“They’ve won some games where they didn’t look great, and we’ve won some games where we didn’t look great,” Tucumcari coach Wayne Ferguson said. “We definitely need to play to the level of our opponent.”
Both are 1-0 in district and coming off of wins, but there are significant differences in their first district victories.
The Rattlers made mistakes, but cruised to a 49-7 win over a Clayton team Ferguson said could cause some teams trouble with their size on the offensive and defensive lines. The Rattlers totaled 587 yards of offense — more than the 502 combined yards Friday night in Texico, where the Wolverines pulled off a 21-20 victory.
“I just noticed how well Texico made second-half adjustments,” Ferguson said. “Early in the game, it looked like it was going to be a high-scoring shootout. But both teams buckled down on defense, and it became a slugfest.”
The Wolverines have a run-heavy attack, with just four pass attempts Friday night. But Rallin Harris did complete one of his two passes for a 10-yard score on a well-executed play fake — adding credence to Tucumcari’s notion that while Texico doesn’t make a ton of plays, they’ve made the ones they need to make all season.
Rattler linebacker Esteban Martinez said if Tucumcari can cut its mistakes and play its style of football, it should be able to improve to 2-0 in district and guarantee itself at least a tie for the district championship.
“Their line really pushed off their blockers,” said Martinez, a 6-foot, 185-pound senior. “We’ve got to make sure we don’t let them do that.”
The key, Ferguson said, is stopping the Texico running game, whether it comes from Shay Harrison, Donavon Johnson or Sergio Posada.
“They’re a three-headed monster kind of like we are,” Ferguson said. “(Sophomore) Zach Hurd is unknown (compared to seniors George Montano and Leon Vigil), but he busted out for 208 yards and three touchdowns.”