Clovis senior Andrew North, who cemented himself as kicker and putner for the Wildcats last season, takes pride in his work.
So when he gets cracked on for the one extra point he had blocked last year, he’s quick to pass the mocking to fellow senior Richie Chavez, who he contends missed an assignment on the play — which turned out to have little impact on the game or the rest of the season.
“Hey Richie,” North yells across the Wildcat locker room with his unmistakeable British accent, “do you remember why I wasn’t perfect on extra points last year?”
Chavez fires back, “Because you can’t kick?” The locker room explodes in laughter, as does North.
There’s a lot of chemistry and laughter in the Wildcat locker room this year.
“The kids believe in each other, they work hard for each other,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “There aren’t a lot of groups.”
But beyond the laughing and the socializing, there’s a bottom-line feeling to it all as well. It’s about getting Clovis’ 14th state championship, senior Emery Sierra said — whatever it takes..
“I just want to win,” said the 5-foot-8, 177-pound linebacker, who will be calling the Wildcat defense on the field. “That’s all it comes down to.”
The first test comes Friday at Alamogordo. The Tigers precede a two-game homestand for the Wildcats, which itself precedes a nasty five game stretch including La Cueva, Rio Rancho and Class 5A runnerup Eldorado — who accounted for the only two losses of an impressive 10-2 campaign in 2008.
The second loss, a 10-7 defeat in the Class 5A semifinals, was the inspiration for plenty of summer workouts.
“We came out and pulled the sled after we lifted,” said senior Blake Wiley, who returns for strong safety on defense and time on offense at receiver with senior Michael Johnson and Florida transfer Darien Borders. “We lifted extra after our main work in the summer.”
The results have shown, Kelley said. In Clovis’ Friday scrimmage against defending 5A champ Las Cruces, Kelley said, most of the mistakes were correctible and really just boiled down to the Wildcats’ first time playing at game speed in 2009.
Some things will go unchanged from the scrimmage. Junior Jordan Hill and senior Kyler Brewer-Hill will alternate possessions at quarterback.
“The competition part helps them both,” Kelley said. “Both will get some snaps and we’ll see where we are between now and distrct.”
Before they open the district season Oct. 30 against Carlsbad, there are plenty of bumps in the road. A showdown at Bulldog Stadium in Artesia. Back-to-back Albuquerque trips with La Cueva, which looks to be an offensive juggernaut, and Rio Rancho.
“ If you’re going to play in Clovis, you’ve got to learn how to travel,” said Kelley. “Hopefully we get into a routine as far as what we how we handle road games.”
The hope is the team bus is just another locker room — a place where the Wildcats laugh and crack on each other, all before they get serious on the field.
That wasn’t always the case during spring football work, Kelley said, the joking nature got a few players in trouble from time to time.
“For the most part,” Kelly said, “they’ve been good about going to work and not taking that out of the locker room.”
CATS AT A GLANCE
Coach: Eric Roanhaus, 32nd year at Clovis (290-100-5).
Assistants: Cal Fullerton, Darren Kelley, Chuck Jordan, Heath Ridenour, Drew Hatley, Jeff Gillespie, Stephen Speck.
Last season: 10-2, lost in Class 5A semifinals to Eldorado, 10-7.
Returning starters: 5 (3 offense, 2 defense)
State championships: 13 (1960, 1973, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1990, 1991, 1994, 2001)
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 28 at Alamogordo 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 Cibols 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 Highland 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 at La Cueva 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Rio Rancho 7 p.m.
Oct. 2 Roswell Goddard 7 p.m.
Oct. 9 Eldorado 7 p.m.
Oct. 16 at Artesia 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 Carlsbad-x 7 p.m.
Nov. 6 at Hobbs-x 7 p.m.
x-District 4-5A games.