Take a pair of byes, and a pair of dominating District 4-5A victories, and the Clovis Wildcats have allowed just seven points in the last four weeks, while scoring 110.
Quite simply, senior defensive end Dustin Williams said, it’s the Wildcats doing what they’re expected to do.
“I think it’s because everybody is doing their job; we have to be accountable to each other,” Williams said. “If we don’t do our jobs, then we won’t be successful.”
If everything goes as expected, the third-seeded Wildcats will be 10-1, looking to avenge their only defeat against second-seeded Eldorado, which hosts Rio Rancho on Saturday.
But the expected was that the Wildcats would handle Sandia in 2006, and the fifth-seeded Matadors pulled off a 24-21 upset. Now, as the sixth seed coming off a 38-7 win over Hobbs, the Wildcat coaching staff warns Sandia (9-2) is not to be taken lightly.
“They had a chance to beat La Cueva, they’re an effective team,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “We need to start fast and stay focused like we have the last few weeks.”
If nothing else, the Wildcats should be well-rested. They had a scheduled bye week after their 52-7 win over Carlsbad, the No. 3 seed got them another bye following their 58-0 win over Hobbs. Both games gave them ample time in the second half to rest starters.
Their energy will be devoted to stopping Matador junior quarterback Tanner Ireland. Kelley said he’s similar to Carlsbad quarterback Jacob Galindo.
“He’s a really good runner,” Williams said, “so if we can make him throw the ball we’ll be OK.”
Attempts to contact Sandia coach Kevin Barker for comment were unsuccessful.
Sandia (9-2) at Clovis (9-1)
7 p.m. today, Leon Williams Stadium
Coaches: Sandia, Kevin Barker, eighth season; Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 31st season, 289-99-5.
Last week: Clovis had a bye week to open the playoffs. The sixth-seeded Matadors defeated No. 11 Hobbs 38-7 at home.
Last meeting: 2006, state quarterfinals, Sandia beat Clovis 24-21.
Sandia players to watch: QB Tanner Ireland (6-0, 175, Sr.), WR Stanton Buckhanan (6-0, 185, Jr.), LB Chris Gutierrez (5-8, 168, Jr.).
On the radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM; KWKA 680 AM; KICA 98.3 FM.
TV: KFCL, 6 p.m. Saturday; 8 p.m. Tuesday.
What 2 watch 4: Clovis will continue alternating between senior Josh Potocki and junior Kyler Brewer at quarterback on offense. Since making the move three games ago, Kelley said, “Both of them have done a good job. The pressure to play and compete has motivated them both. It’s definitely made them take better care of the ball.” The Wildcats have three turnovers over the last three games.
Regular-season leaders: Senior RB Stefan Mills leads the Wildcats with 1,075 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. Moses Bibbs is tops in receiving with 12 grabs for 308 yards, just ahead of Mills (8-268). Senior LB Lane Ward leads the team with 91 tackles (19 solos, 72 assists), and senior DE Morris Sharp has a team-high and Wildcat season record 6.5 sacks. Senior CB Josh Bryan has nine interceptions, tying Jaden Isler’s 2007 single-season record.
Go figure: Roanhaus received seven votes in an Albuquerque Journal coaches survey, tying him with Cooper Henderson as the best coach at making halftime adjustments. Roanhaus also won votes for best at working referees (six votes) and best motivator (five votes), and Clovis was tops with 11 votes for toughest place to play. The Journal contacted 46 varsity coaches in Classes 4A and 5A for the survey, and received 31 responses. Respondents were given anonymity and could not vote for themselves.
— Kevin Wilson