“They’re really good up front, they’re very physical,” Darren Kelley said. “They’re very sound and disciplined.”
Kelley, assistant coach for the Clovis Wildcats, is referring to the top-ranked Mayfield Trojans. But those words could very well describe Mayfield’s vision of the visiting Wildcats.
“When you get to this point of the season, the teams that are sound and disciplined are going to be the teams still playing,” said Kelley. “Some teams will win because they have exceptional athletes, but it’s usually the teams that are disciplined.”
The Wildcats (9-2), making their third consecutive Class 5A semifinal appearance, will face Mayfield for the first time since the teams met for a double-overtime state championship thriller, won 49-48 by the visiting Trojans.
For much of Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats held onto hope they would get one more home game, with Eldorado primed for an upset. But the Trojans scored with 1:37 to go in regulation to tie matters up at 29, blocked an Eagle field goal attempt as time expired and got an end-zone interception in a 36-29 overtime win.
So instead of Friday night at Leon Williams Stadium, it’s Saturday afternoon at the Field of Dreams. The winner will face either La Cueva or Manzano, who play 7 p.m. Friday at R.F. Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque.
A Clovis victory would have the Wildcats going to Wilson Stadium next week, as the Wildcats owe home games to both the Monarchs and the Bears.
“Strictly from the standpoint of playing at home again,” Kelley said, Clovis would have liked to see an Eldorado upset. “But at this time of the year, it’s great to still be playing, wherever you get to play.”
The Wildcat squad that comes is in peak form, with six straight victories and full health.
It’s helped senior Jared Burns, who’s been able to concentrate on the defensive line for the last few weeks. When junior center Carlos Garza went down with a knee injury three games into the season, Burns played on both the offensive and defensive line.
“It’s felt pretty good not having to go both ways,” Burns said. “You can take more time to notice what a team’s doing on offense.”
The Trojans, who run their offense through senior running backs James Enriquez and Michael Hallock, are a lot like Clovis. They control the game on the ground, and when they throw, they get big yards.
“Mayfield’s a good football team; they expect to win,” Kelley said. “They expect to make big plays when they have to make big plays.”
Attempts to contact Mayfield coach Michael Bradley were unsuccessful.
Very few of today’s Wildcats were even on the varsity sidelines during the last Mayfield-Clovis game, so their bad memories are as spectators. The current Wildcats are hoping they can make some memories.
“We’ve just got to do our jobs,” Burns said. “It we take care of our individual responsibilities, then we should be able to contain and hold them.”
Clovis (9-2) at Mayfield (10-1)
1 p.m. Saturday, Field of Dreams, Las Cruces
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 32nd season, 299-102-5. Mayfield, Michael Bradley, fourth season.
Last week: The Wildcats, the fourth seed in the Class 5A football bracket, overcame early errors to hold off No. 5 Onate 21-13. The top-ranked Trojans needed a late touchdown to force overtime against Eldorado and took a 36-29 victory.
Common opponents: The Wildcats went 5-0 against Cibola, Carlsbad, Onate, Alamogordo and Eldorado. The Trojans went 6-0, with regular season and playoff wins over Eldorado.
Last meeting: 2007, Class 5A championship, Mayfield 49-48, double overtime.
Mayfield players to watch: RB James Enriquez, Sr., 5-8, 140; RB Michael Hallock,Sr., 5-10, 160; NG Matthew Ramondo, Jr., 6-3, 236; LB Wyatt Tharp, Sr., 5-11, 170.
Notes: A win would give Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus No. 300 for his career ... Saturday’s game will be Clovis’ first game on grass since opening the season Aug. 28 at Alamogordo. Junior Quran Wiggins leads Clovis with 1,390 yards rushing on 214 carries, and has scored 12 touchdowns on the ground. Senior Blake Wiley leads the Wildcats with 10 receptions for 154 yards. Senior linebacker Emery Sierra leads the Wildcats with 104 tackles — 38 solo, 66 assists.
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