Despite an intense rivalry, it’s been quite a while since the Portales Rams have beaten Lovington in football.
Wildcats coach Jaime Quinones, who has been with the Lovington program for 21 years, said the last time he can remember losing to the Rams was in 1996.
“But it’s always a battle,” he said. “They’re a good ballclub; they have very few weaknesses.”
The teams match up in their District 4-3A opener at 7 p.m. today on Lovington’s blue turf field in a game that should have significant implications on the Class 3A playoff picture down the line.
“This is what we’ve worked all season for,” Rams coach Andy Correll said. “It’s why we play the (challenging) pre-district schedule we play.”
Portales (5-2) comes into the contest ranked No. 1 in 3A, while the Wildcats (4-3) are No. 3.
“To most of us, the Lovington game is the game of the year,” Rams senior cornerback Rick Bergman said. “We haven’t won against Lovington in (a long time).
“All the records are 0-0 now. We’re just going to take it one game at a time.”
The Wildcats have put together a decent year despite losing quarterback Todd Black to a season-ending injury (torn ACL) in the opener at Artesia. Sophomore Jacob Jameson has filled in well.
“I play golf (in the spring) with the quarterbacks,” Bergman said. “I know some of (their players) are real athletic and fast, but if we can stay disciplined, I think we’ll be all right.”
Quinones, in his third season as head coach, said junior running back Jesus Davalos gives the Rams a potent weapon to go with a solid corps of receivers.
“He’s one of the best backs we’ve seen all year,” Quinones said. “We’ll have to be able to contain Davalos. And they have a great quarterback (senior Michael Trujillo), and great receivers too.”
The man the Rams plan to key on is senior running back Edgar Medina, who isn’t that big at 5-foot-7 and 160 pounds but has lightning quickness, Correll said.
He’s expecting a better showing from the Rams than in last year’s 28-0 loss to the Wildcats at Blackwater Draw, a game in which Portales committed five turnovers.
“Last year, I felt like (the district title) would come down to us and Lovington, and it did,” he said. “But we didn’t play worth a flip.
“I feel like we’re probably two of the better teams in the state. It’s been a good rivalry for a long time. I think our kids are going to be pumped up, and theirs are too.”