TEXICO — Most of Texico’s starters in football go both ways this season. And while it’s offense that racks up the headlines — take for instance the Wolverines’ 101 points against Loving — the Texico players say there’s plenty of appeal to playing on the defensive side of the ball.
“You get to hit people,” junior left tackle Eli Morgan said of why he likes to line up defensively. “You get to inflict pain.”
Texico (4-0) has done it well this season.
The Wolverines have pitched two shutouts: the 101-0 blowout of Loving on Sept. 12, and last week’s 28-0 whitewash of Hagerman.
Against the Clovis High junior varsity two weeks ago, Texico surrendered six points — coming on the last play of the game. The largest outburst by an opponent thus far was the 12 points the Wolverines to Springlake-Earth on Sept. 5.
Senior nose tackle Mark Rivera says that swarming to the ball is what makes the Texico defense so tough.
“It’s pretty much the whole defense,” he said. “We rely on each other to be there for the tackle. We all gang-tackle, so it means the whole team goes there. We depend on everybody; we’re all sure tacklers.”
Rivera is called the “sparkplug” of the defense by Texico coach Mike Prokop and is considered, by Morgan and others, the hardest hitter on the squad. At 5-feet-8, Rivera might be erroneously considered at a disadvantage on the line because of his size.
“He’s quick; got a bunch of speed and he’s real strong, too,” Morgan said.
“They’re bigger, but I know I’m a little bit quicker than a lot of people so that gives me an advantage,” Rivera says.
Also lining up with Morgan and Rivera on the D-line are sophomore Lucas Walthers and senior Luis Estrada at defensive end, while the right tackle position is split between junior Matt Vasquez and senior Jonathon Montano.
The team’s leading tackler is Brett Anderson, Texico’s quarterback on offense. The senior has tallied 47 tackles from his linebacker position — where he lines up next to junior Seth Bailey.
The Wolverines’ secondary is manned by senior Mario Posada and junior Edgardo Meza at cornerback, sophomore Jose Posada at strong safety and junior Rhett Martin at free safety.
Morgan, who has 27 tackles this season, says that one touchdown that Texico gave up this season particularly irks him. That’s the one that gave Dexter a 7-0 at the end of the first quarter in the season opener — when lightning cancelled the rest of the contest.
Dexter recently upended Santa Rosa, which beat Texico in last year’s Class 2A title contest.
“It was 7-0 (Dexter), but we were on the 10,” Morgan recalled. “I wanted it. It’s my biggest regret this season.
“We would’ve won it, because we moved the ball real well. And we’ve gotten a lot better since we played them too.”
Of the 11 positions on defense, generally 10 are occupied by players who also are offensive starters.
Rivera, however, says that not getting a break is merely a challenge meant to be overcome.
“I come out (for) one play and that’s the kickoff,” says Rivera, who has 39 tackles this season. “It takes a lot out of us, but we all work on it. We’ve got to practice hard to get into shape and coach puts us through a lot of good things.”