When the clocks hit zeroes on the regular season for Class 5A football, the state playoff seeding committee may be looking back to the game where the zeroes hit 12 minutes early.
Clovis and La Cueva, traditionally state powers, will likely be gunning for top seeds in the 5A playoffs. And any seeding argument of Wildcats or Bears will no doubt turn on what committee members think of Clovis’ 8-7 win.
The Wildcats won with an impressive defensive showing, limiting the Bears (2-2) to 149 yards. But a bout with lightning ended the game after three quarters, and La Cueva was six plays into a drive, facing first down on the Wildcats’ 42.
Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley admitted it wasn’t an optimal win, but he hopes any seeding committee takes the approach that the Wildcats controlled the factors they could control and a win is a win.
“That’s a good football team,” he said of the Bears. “I’d like to think we’re not bad either.”
There was plenty of praise to go around for the defense, which slowed down a pair of La Cueva drives with force fumbles and ended a second-quarter drive with an interception — Josh Bryan’s team-high fourth pick.
Kelley had his highest praise for senior safety Denzel Pleasant, who helped Bryan, Arthur Calbert and others hold Bears quarterback Ronnie Daniels to an 0-for-5 night.
“Denzel played a great football game,” Kelley said. “He stunted when he needed to. He made some great tackles.”
His biggest play may have been in defense of a run play, however. Daniels had the ball knocked loose in the backfield on third and long, but the fumble bounced right to center Michael Hess.
The 6-foot-2, 230-pound Hess had plenty of running room, but Pleasant — at 5-foot-8, 180 — pulled him down one yard short to force a punt.
Best offensive series
Clovis had plenty of big plays — five of more than 15 yards — but only capitalized on Stefan Mills’ 50-yard run to the right side.
The Wildcats took advantage with a series of solid runs by Scott McMath, and Mills scored on a 2-yard run after mishandling a high pitch from quarterback Josh Potocki.
The second drive of the game had similar promise, but Mills was barely tripped up by the last defender, and James Howard couldn’t beat La Cueva down the sidelines on a 35-yard jaunt. The drive instead ended on a lost fumble one play later from Howard.
“We had some chances to break the big one,” Kelley said. “We’ve got to get to where we’re finishing a run. You don’t get many opportunities to make those plays.”
Worst offensive series
Clovis had one three-and-out. Mills and McMath combined to lose four yards on two runs, and Potocki managed seven yards on a third-down delay draw.
Best defensive series
La Cueva’s drive following that three-and-out. Lane Ward made an open-field tackle on Gus Bowe to limit his gain to three yards, and Jared Burns sacked Daniels for a loss of eight on third down.
Worst defensive series
The scoring drive, ending with a 13-yard run by Bowe. The Wildcats gave the Bears one first down with an offsides penalty, fell for a play fake that resulted in another and allowed four plays of 10 or more yards.
The Wildcats host Rio Rancho, before traveling to Goddard in two weeks. Coincidentally, those two teams met Friday night, with the Rockets winning 52-36.