The Portales Rams will look to regroup in Muleshoe tonight following a 41-6 road loss to Robertson last week.
The task for the Rams will be a big challenge but one that will be quite different from having to stop the Cardinals’ running game.
Known for its air attack, Muleshoe hasn’t missed a beat, putting the ball in the air nearly 40 times last week in a 27-13 win over Shallowater, Texas.
“They throw the ball and they throw it well,” Rams coach Mark McAfee said. “They’ve got (senior) Cooper Washington at quarterback, and he’s got a lot of receivers to throw to. It’ll still be physical even though they’re kind of a finesse team. It’s still Texas smash-mouth football.”
Mules coach David Wood said he has 13 returning lettermen with Washington, who is already committed to Oklahoma, among the team leaders. Washington was a starting receiver and defensive end last year and in 2008 when the Mules won a state championship. Wood said his conversion to quarterback this season has gone well.
According to stats on MaxPreps.com, Washington completed 21 of 37 passes for 272 yards and rushed for 54 more against Shallowater.
Among his multiple targets are senior Joey Ramirez, who snared seven passes for 106 yards and two touchdowns last week.
“Probably our strength is at the skill positions,” Wood said. “We have a lot of receivers to throw to.”
Muleshoe finished 10-1 last year, including a win over Portales, and won its district title with a 5-0 mark.
McAfee said his team had a good week of practice and worked hard despite warm temperatures and a few bumps and bruises from Las Vegas.
Senior quarterback J.J. Collins will be on the sidelines with a severe ankle sprain suffered in Friday’s first half at Robertson. Junior Phoenix Russell will start in his place.
McAfee said both quarterbacks had received lots of snaps prior to the opener in Las Vegas. He said because of that he didn’t really feel his offense missed a beat with Collins out.
Defense was another matter according to McAfee.
“We really, really focused hard on defense this week,” McAfee said. “We worked hard on execution and getting as many people as possible to the ball.”
McAfee says covering Muleshoe’s aerial show will be further complicated by a knee injury suffered in practice to senior James Salgado at the cornerback position.