The Portales Rams ran into a buzzsaw last week against Muleshoe.
Facing a team with a similar spread offense, the Rams were outgunned in a 63-35 loss despite showing off a potent air attack of their own.
Tonight, Portales (1-1) looks to get back on the winning track when it plays its home opener against the Clovis junior varsity in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Greyhound Stadium.
The Rams have put plenty of points on the board in their first two games, riding a strong ground game to a season-opening 51-7 win at Las Vegas Robertson before filling the air with footballs last week.
“It was pretty much a shootout,” senior wide-out Nick Bliss, who had four catches for 105 yards against Muleshoe. “It came down to making stops, and they made the stops they needed.”
Junior quarterback Michael Trujillo completed 24 of 34 passes — nine players caught at least one — for 363 yards in the loss. Five players each caught a touchdown pass.
“They were just a much better team than Robertson,” said senior wide receiver-safety Brandon McAfee, who hauled in a 24-yard TD strike from Trujillo. “We got away with some things (defensively) against Robertson, but (Muleshoe) exposed our weaknesses pretty good.”
Trujillo showed a strong arm at Muleshoe, and also the elusiveness to avoid a pass rush.
Bliss, who didn’t play football last year after transferring from Lubbock Monterey, said it’s hard for a defense to focus on one player.
“We have more weapons this year and just the ‘want-to’ to do things,” he said. “Michael will put them up there. All you have to do (as a receiver) is catch them.”
Bliss, who also sees some duty at linebacker, admitted the Rams may have worn down late in the game, but he says their defense is capable of playing well.
“I feel we have the best defense in the state in (Class ) 3A,” he said. “It’s just that everybody has their days.”
Coach Andy Correll said the Rams use screen passes to help slow down opponents’ pass rush.
“The biggest thing we’ve been working on is not breaking off our routes, especially when our quarterback has to scramble,” he said. “I thought (Trujillo) did a good job of that the other night.”
Primarily a running team over the years, the Rams believe they can still move the ball on the ground with junior Jesus Davalos, who can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
McAfee, though, expects the Rams to continue putting the ball up.
“We’re going to keep throwing it, I think, but we’re going to mix in the run too,” he said. “Our passing game can open up the run.”