The road through the 2010 football season for the winless Portales Rams still hasn’t smoothed out and today the road gets longer as they make the trip north to take on the Raton Tigers.
Rams coach Mark McAfee said a good many of the bumps in the road they encountered last week in a late fourth-quarter loss to Texico have been repaired after a good hard week of practice.
“I think we made some steps in the right direction,” McAfee said. “It’s a growing process. Our team knows where we’ve got to improve.”
McAfee said he was pleased with what the Rams’ offense showed him last week after they outgained Texico in rushing and total yards. But the miscues still need to end for Portales (0-3) to reach its potential.
“I felt like we were our own worst enemy,” McAfee said. “You can’t put the ball on the turf that many times and expect to win.”
Tied for fifth in Class 3A with Las Vegas Robertson in this week’s coaches’ poll, Raton (2-1) will be formidable athletically as well as experienced. According to eighth-year Tiger coach Brock Walton that experience will come in the form of eight players who have started for three years for Raton and 32 lettermen.
Raton, which prefers the pass, soundly beat Clayton and Trinidad, Colo. and lost a close contest to Socorro (22-20) last week.
Leading the way for Raton is 6-foot, 4 inch, 226-pound senior quarterback Dustin Walton.
Among Dustin Walton’s favorite targets is senior wide receiver Derrick Valdez. According to coach Brock if teams start to key too much on Valdez his team is ready with what he calls the x-factor in senior wide receiver Thomas Hattaway.
In the backfield and on kick returns Raton has senior Malachi Morphew — who scored 20 touchdowns last season — to fall back on, according to his coach.
“We have to win the turnover battle and play much better defense,” Coach Walton said on what his team needs to do to beat the Rams.
“The last two games we have been outgained in terms of yardage and lost time of possession. With our offense, we aren’t probably going to win the time of possession battle anyway, but we have given up too many long of drives to keep our offense’s rhythm.”
Raton has averaged 41 passes a game.
“Their quarterback is good at throwing the ball but he’s not as big a running threat as (Cooper) Washington (Muleshoe quarterback) was,” McAfee said.
The Rams coach has time of possession on his mind as well. He believes if his defense doesn’t have to stay on the field as much the Rams chances go up greatly. Yet one of his big concerns is the long road trip.
“We’re going to have to travel well to win,” McAfee said.