By Dave Wagner
Clovis Media Inc
Second-year coach Jaime Ramirez and the Portales Rams know they’re starting off on better footing than they did a year ago.
For one thing, Ramirez comes into this season more familiar with his personnel. And the Rams, who returned only one starter last season, have a bevy of experienced players back this time.
How that translates on the field remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a good starting point.
Portales, which went 2-8 a year ago and lost to Robertson in the first round of the Class 3A state playoffs, opens the 2013 campaign against the Cardinals on Friday night, this time at Blackwater Draw.
“We’ve got a lot of experience coming back,” said Ramirez, noting there are six starters on offense and nine on defense returning. “We have continuity with a lot of the same coaching staff.
“I believe our (offensive) line will be the key to our success, with three starters returning. I feel like we have guys two-deep at most positions, they’re pretty comfortable at those positions and I don’t feel like there’s a big dropoff.”
The Rams are pretty set in their all-senior offensive line, returning right guard Jonathan Gonzalez, right tackle J.P. Sullivan and left tackle Jorge Jimenez from 2012. They’ll be joined by left guard Michael Poyner and center Hayden Montiel.
“I’m excited for the season,” Sullivan said. “I think we can do some great things. We’ve got quite a few seniors, and everyone’s on board.
“Hopefully, we can keep everyone healthy and working hard. If we do, we’ll be doing great things.”
Gonzalez said the seniors want to go out with a bang.
“We want to achieve something,” he said. “This is my last season. The team has gotten a lot stronger and more dedicated.
“Last year, we were just a new team. Now I think we’ll be playing at the level we need to be playing at.”
Ramirez listed two players at each of the skill positions, with senior Daniel Sanchez and junior Dustin Sisneros competing at quarterback and sophomore Bronte Staugaard at tailback.
Candidates at the two wide receiver positions are seniors Marcos Lucero and Ed Banda and juniors John Young, Darin Bonem and Travis Connell.
At the slot positions are seniors Cruz Belden and Jarret Faust, juniors Matt Martinez Paul Conrow and sophomore Jacob Salcedo.
“Our main goal on offense is to play at a fast tempo, and to be as balanced as possible,” Ramirez said.
Up front on defense, the Rams will have sophomore Jeremiah Nelson at nose guard, flanked by Jimenez and Gonzalez, with Lucero, Poyner, Belden, Bonem and junior Miguel Garza at linebacker. Martinez is slated to play the safety position with Faust and Young at cornerback.
Senior Devin Brent is a candidate at a weak-side linebacker position, but may not return until the second game due to a shoulder injury, third-year defensive coordinator Vic Lopez said.
“Our defense, we want to play with speed,” Lopez said. “We’ll be moving around a lot. We’re not very fancy, but we’ve got a lot of good players with experience from last year.”
Gonzalez said the Rams are looking forward to playing Robertson, which also edged PHS 13-7 in last year’s opener at Las Vegas.
“We’ve beaten Robertson before,” he said. “They’ve lost some seniors — we did, too — but I think we can beat any team we play.”
The Rams figure to have their work cut out again in District 4-3A with Lovington and Ruidoso, both of whom lost in the state semifinals last fall.
No. Name Yr. Ht. Wt. Pos.
1 John Young Jr. n/a n/a WR/CB
2 Jarret Faust Sr. n/a n/a WR/CB
3 Izaah Aragon Jr. 5-7 155 OL/LB
4 Darin Bonem Jr. n/a n/a WR/LB
5 Ed Banda Jr. 6-1 170 WR/LB
6 Matt Martinez Jr. 5-8 145 WR/S
7 Cruz Belden Sr. 5-9 140 WR/LB
8 Paul Conrow Jr. 6-0 175 QB/S
9 Miguel Barrera So. n/a n/a WR/LB
10 Andrew Garcia So. n/a n/a WR/LB
11 Jonathon Lechuga So. n/a n/a RB
12 Dustin Sisneros Jr. 6-0 185 QB/S
14 Daniel Sanchez Sr. n/a n/a QB/S
15 Caleb Buciaga Sr. 5-10 160 WR/S
20 Marcos Lucero Sr. 5-10 160 WR/LB
21 Jaiime Sotelo Sr. 5-7 140 RB
22 Jonathan Bargas Sr. 5-7 140 WR/LB
24 Bronte Staugaard So. 5-8 140 RB/DB
25 Christopher Saiz So. 5-9 150 WR/S
28 Jesse LeMier So. n/a n/a WR/S
30 Carlos Solis So. n/a n/a QB/S
33 Travis Connell Jr. 5-8 145 WR/LB
34 C.J. Scott So. 5-6 155 RB/DL
35 Andrew Lucero Sr. 5-9 140 WR
40 Miguel Garza Jr. 5-9 155 RB/LB
42 Jacob Salgado So. n/a n/a WR/LB
45 Andrew Carrillo So. n/a n/a T/NG
50 Isaac Zapata Sr. 5-8 260 OL/DL
52 Devon Brent Sr. 5-11 170 OL/LB
54 Michael Poyner Sr. 5-9 150 RB/LB
55 Jorge Jimenez Sr. 5-10 170 OL/DL
56 Nathan Burciaga Sr. 5-9 185 OL/DL
58 Jordan Baros Jr. 5-10 160 OL/DL
60 Ezra Oden Jr. 5-11 160 OL/DL
61 Troy Henson So. 5-6 135 WR/LB
62 Jonathon Montiel So. n/a n/a G/LB
63 Hayden Montiel Sr. 5-11 235 OL/DL
64 Jose Rodriguez Jr. 5-9 145 WR/LB
65 J.P. Sullivan Sr. 5-11 185 OL/DL
68 Victor Lechuga Jr. n/a n/a OT/DE
70 Bryce DeBusk Jr. 6-1 175 OL/DL
71 Junior Arce Jr. 5-11 175 OL/DL
72 Joseph Cicero Sr. 6-3 230 OL/DL
74 Drew Jackson So. n/a n/a C/DT
75 Hector Arana So. 5-8 165 OL/DL
77 Jonathan Gonzalez Sr. 6-1 210 OL/DL
78 Jeremiah Nelson So. n/a n/a G/NG
85 Edward Alonzo Sr. n/a n/a LB
August: 30 — Las Vegas Robertson, 7 p.m.
September: 6 — at Texico, 7 p.m.; 13 — at West Las Vegas, 7 p.m.; 20 — Raton, 7 p.m.; 27 — at Dexter, 7 p.m.
October: 4 — Pojoaque, 7 p.m.; 12 — at Hope Christian, 5 p.m.; 18 — Roswell High, 7 p.m.; 25 — at Ruidoso, 7 p.m.-x.
November: 1 — Lovington, 7 p.m.-x
x-Denotes District 4-3A game.