One week is down for the Clovis Wildcats, with two left before their first measuring stick.
The Wildcats concluded their Friday evening practice and took Saturday off, confident they’d made good strides leading up to their Aug. 19 scrimmage at Roswell against Las Cruces High and their Aug. 26 season opener at Alamogordo.
Veteran coach Eric Roanhaus — third all-time in New Mexico prep history with 304 wins, and six wins away from tying Jim Bradley for first place — told his players Friday evening it was a good first week, before joking he didn’t want any of them to carry his clubs during an upcoming booster club golf tournament out of fear they’d get dropped.
Assistant Darren Kelley echoed those sentiments. He said the defense is noticeably ahead of the offense, but that was to be expected with a few more passing elements added.
“We’re better now than we were on Monday, that’s for sure,” Kelley said. “We’ve been adding a few things on offense. On defense, we’re doing the same thing.”
Countless players on this year’s roster saw significant time during last year’s campaign — a rollercoaster 5-7 season that ended in the Class 5A quarterfinals. But the Wildcats return just five starters — four on defense, one on offense.
However, coaches said it could be six, considering sixth senior Boone Wheeler is moving from defense to offense.
“He’s going to do a good job at fullback,” Kelley said of the 5-foot-9, 175-pound Wheeler, who should also see time at linebacker.
Of the five starters playing the same position as last year, four of them are on the line — including 6-foot-5, 298-pound Kenny Betts and 6-foot-4, 275 pound tackle Chris Lewis, both senior defensive tackles.
“We’ve got some size up front,” Kelley said. “The big thing is if possible, we’re going to have to develop depth.”
Another of the starters back on defense is end Kaven Creamer.
“It started off rough, but we got into the routine, so now it feels pretty good,” said Creamer, a 6-foot, 200-pound senior who hopes to lead the Wildcats in sacks. “I think we’ll be a lot stronger than we were (last season), and quicker.”