By Thomas Garcia
Tucumcari’s football team should not focus on its 0-5 start, but on contending and containing the speed of Eunice’s offense on Friday, said Rattlers Coach Wayne Ferguson.
Homecoming is Friday night against the non-district Cardinals at the Rattler Stadium. The game starts at 7.
Ferguson said district teams Texico and Santa Rosa have played similar opponents as Tucumcari this season, with similar results. So the year is not lost.
Ferguson said in last Friday’s 48-7 loss to Fort Sumner, the Rattlers’ defense played strong in the first quarter.
“There is no reason to panic,” Ferguson said. “We have played a tough five games against strong teams.”
Ferguson said the five teams the Rattlers have played so far have a combined record of 26-4.
“The combined record of the teams in our district is 4-20,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson said a key to success on Friday will be to stop the Cardinals’ fast-paced offense. He said the 3-2 Cardinals like to spread the field and keep a fast tempo while driving the ball.
“Physically we are a banged-up team,” Ferguson said. “Injuries in the past five games have resulted in the loss of three starters.”
Ferguson said the Rattlers have lost running back Billy Sandoval to a broken thumb, quarterback Zach Martinez will be out due to a concussion and defensive linemen Antonio Norton Jr. will miss games due to a broken finger and Santiago Alires will miss Friday’s game due to injury.
“The team has taken its fair share of hard knocks these past five weeks,” Ferguson said. “The coaches keep reminding the team that we believe in them and their ability. We have not lost hope in them and neither should they.”
Turnovers once again plagued the Rattlers during Friday night’s loss at Fort Sumner.
“We continue to be our own worst enemy with turnovers,” Ferguson said.
At first, the Rattlers were right on par with the 5-0 Foxes.
Tucumcari answered Fort Summer’s opening score with a 48-yard rushing touchdown by the Rattlers’ Michael Shelton.
The Rattlers then exchanged interceptions with the Class 2A Foxes midway through the first quarter. Each team’s defense stopped any chance of capitalizing on the turnovers keeping it tied 7-7.
“Our defense was able to play right along with the Foxes in the first quarter,” Ferguson said. “We had some mental breakdowns and missed assignments later in the game that caused us to fall behind.”
In the remaining three quarters, the Rattlers would have three more turnovers.
“We have to take care of the football,” Ferguson said. “We have to play sound football. The team cannot commit penalties that set the other team up with short and goal situations.”
In other action
The 2-3 Logan Longhorns will need to take care of the ball Friday night at Springer as they begin their district run against the Red Devils.
The game starts at 7.
“We cannot afford to turn the ball over against Springer like we did Friday night against Foothill,” said Kene Terry, Longhorns head coach.
Terry said last Friday night’s 21-0 win against Foothill should have been by a larger margin. He said two turnovers inside the 10-yard line kept points off the scoreboard.
“We simply cannot afford to not score in the red zone against district opponents,” Terry said.
Terry said he has not seen much film on the Red Devils this season but is expecting a tough game. He said the Longhorns will have players returning from injury and academic eligibility to help face the Red Devils.
Terry said the Longhorns’ three turnovers during Friday night’s homecoming against the 2-3 Falcons kept points off the board for Logan. He said two of the turnovers were inside the 10-yard line.
“We cannot put the blame on nerves or distractions because it was our homecoming,” Terry said. “The turnovers were due to poor ball handling.”
Terry said the Longhorns are going to have to take better care of the ball as they prepare to start their district run. He said the team has injured players returning to the lineup as well as some players improving their grades to become eligible to play.
“Things are beginning to fall into place and it is up to us to make a strong district run,” Terry said.
The 3-0 San Jon Coyotes will be shaking off the rust from a two-week bye as they start district play Friday against Roy/Mosquero.
The game starts at 4 p.m.
“The two weeks gave us time to rest and get healthy but as any coach will tell you, two weeks without play has its disadvantages,” said Bobby Gomez, Coyotes head coach.
Gomez said the last time the Coyotes were on the field they beat Reserve 56-6 on Sept. 9 at Carrizozo.
“It was a big win for the team,” Gomez said. “The only problem is that it will be 21 days between actual gameplay when we face the Longhorns.”
Gomez said no amount of practice can simulate the conditions of a game. He said the team has been working to stay sharp during the bye weeks.
“We just need to get back out onto the field,” Gomez said. “I’m confident once the guys get back into the game it will be like they never left.”
Fort Sumner 48 Tucumcari 7
Fort Sumner 7 20 7 14
Tucumcari 7 0 0 0
Fort Sumner: 2-yard rush Francisco Chavez, (kick Kreston Butterfield)
Tucumcari: 48-yard rush Michael Shelton, (kick Saul Ramos)
Fort Sumner: 14-yard pass from Jude Segura to Hunter Sparks, (kick Butterfield)
Fort Sumner: 1-yard rush Segura, (kick Butterfield)
Fort Sumner: 15-yard pass from Segura to Jason Hughes, (kick failed)
Fort Sumner: 10-yard pass from Segura to Butterfield, (kick Butterfield)
Fort Sumner: 13-yard pass from Segura to Sparks, (kick Butterfield)
Fort Sumner: 15-yard pass from Segura to Armondo Vallejos, (kick Butterfield)