Tonight’s visit from the Artesia Bulldogs will be a throwback to years gone by for Portales Rams fans.
After being district rivals for years and non-conference foes for some time after Artesia moved up to Class 4A, the two teams haven’t met in at least the last five years, say Portales coaches.
The history includes a meeting in the 1983 Class 3A state championship, which Artesia won 22-8.
“It’s always fun to play the best and they (Artesia) are among the best in the state and have a great football tradition,” Portales coach Mark McAfee said. “It’s always exciting when you get to play a program like that.”
Artesia, with 25 state championships to its credit, comes into the game with a lackluster 4-4 mark, but like Portales (1-7), the Bulldogs play a tough schedule by design.
Both the Bulldogs (ranked No. 4 in 4A) and the Rams have losses to Roswell Goddard. Artesia’s other losses came at the hands of 5A teams Las Cruces High, Clovis and Manzano.
McAfee said the Bulldogs will be solid on both sides of the ball with good size on defense and an athletic complement on offense. McAfee said the Rams’ hands will be full with Artesia’s cagey senior running back, Andy Lopez.
While Lopez has rushed for close to 1,000 yards this season, the Bulldogs’ aerial attack will also be of concern. Senior quarterback Josh Houghtaling has thrown for more 2,000 yards. Most of that pass production has landed in the hands of seniors Dacotah Watts and Koby Caton.
Portales will line up without the services of junior running back Colin McAfee, who suffered a concussion last week, but junior wide receiver and linebacker Jonathan Esparsen will return to the lineup following injuries two games ago.