School rivalries can still be friendly these days and the one developing on the gridiron between 2A Texico and 3A Portales is a good example say the teams’ coaches.
The two schools, separated by about 25 miles, play each other regularly in other sports but football between the two got its start last year.
Texico got the first notch in their rivalry gun with a 26-7 win in that contest.
In a year when both teams are struggling to rebuild and get things on track, both coaches say it’s all about getting better but admit their might be a little something to be said for the rivalry when they meet at 7 p.m. Friday at Blackwater Draw.
Rams coach Mark McAfee said he wouldn’t take a thing away from the skilled Texico team that beat Portales last year, but he admits getting beat wasn’t easy for the Rams.
“That’s been a sore spot for us,” McAfee said. “Our kids have been using that as a motivational tool.
“Our kids get along well and it’s like our Muleshoe rivalry, it’s not nasty at all.”
Second-year Wolverine coach Ryan Autrey admits the schools and their fans are going to get into the rivalry but he wants his team to focus on learning from the non-district game.
“It’s an opportunity for us to play a good football team and get better at what we do,” Autrey said. “People have said from day one we were young, but we’ve got to get over that and not use it as an excuse.”
Both teams are coming off losses: Texico (1-1) got beat 33-6 loss by Class 1A powerhouse Springlake-Earth and Portales (0-2) lost 49-8 at Muleshoe, which is ranked 10th in Class 2A in Texas.
McAfee said his team has their collective heads up and are itching for a win.
“We’ve gotta make sure we don’t lose sight of what we’re doing,” McAfee said. “Nobody likes to get beat, but they’ve got to understand that every game is important and we take something from each game and hopefully it helps us improve.”
McAfee said he still wants to see more production from his offense, but the former defensive coordinator said the focus this week was containing teams defensively. He said this week he is looking for his defensive front to do a better job of keeping containment. At the same time he sees a need for his defensive backs to get better on their reads.
Autrey said his team may have the toughest matchup problems on the line as they give up a little in size to the Rams.
“Portales has good size up front and have a couple kids up there that move well,” Autrey said.
Portales senior J.J. Collins will return to signal calling after sitting out last week with a sprained ankle. The Rams will also have the services of junior Lucas Banda who was injured at Muleshoe and left the field on a stretcher after a hit that injured his neck.
Texico (1-1) at Portales (0-2)
• When: 7 p.m. today
• Coaches: Texico, Ryan Autrey, 2nd year. Portales, Mark McAfee, 1st year
• Radio: KTQM, 107.5 FM
• Last week: Texico lost to Springlake-Earth 33-6. Portales lost to Muleshoe 49-8.
• Last meeting: 2009, Texico beat Portales 26-7.
• What to watch for: Portales is looking for its first win but needs to play better defense after giving up 100 points in its first two games. Texico looks to rebound after a tough loss the eighth-ranked team in Class 1A in Texas.