The Portales Rams have opened their season against the Robertson Cardinals each of the past two years, and they’ll do so again tonight in Las Vegas. But the team the Rams will face tonight doesn’t look much like those other Cardinal teams — both on the field and off.
For starters, the Cardinals are reeling from hazing accusations that resulted in the dismissal of six Robertson players, and the suspension of the entire Robertson coaching staff.
Former Clovis standout Chad Roanhaus, who led Robertson to back-to-back Class 3A state titles in 2006 and 2007, left to take the head job job at New Mexico Highlands.
Robertson beat Portales 20-15 in last year’s opener.
“I still think they’re a pretty good football team,” Portales head coach Andy Correll said. “I still look for a pretty good football game from them.”
“They’ve had all that adversity, and it’s really tough,” Portales defensive coordinator Mark McAfee said, “but they’re still football players, and they’re still playing good football.”
But regardless of Robertson’s distractions, it’s Correll’s duty to get the Rams ready to open their season tonight against the Cards.
And a big part of getting the Rams ready is getting signal caller Michael Trujillo ready for his first full season as the Rams starting quarterback.
Like Chris Mosier the past two seasons, Trujillo can run and pass, but Correll said the offense has built in “hot routes” to get the ball out quick.
“Even in practice, he knows when he needs to tuck and go,” Correll said. “He’s got the green light, I just have worked with him in the last couple of weeks to hit our hot routes and giving our guys a chance and putting them in position where they can make a play. I think that’s his duty right now.”
Correll said the Ram offense is simply built around completions.
“We’ve got to get consistent with completions,” Correll said. “We want to complete our passes and move the sticks and score when we have every opportunity.”
Correll also believes controlling the tempo and flow of the game is a high priority for the Ram offense.
“We’ve worked hard this week on the kind of tempo that we want to run,” Correll said.
McAfee has moved his defense from a read-and-react defense to a more aggressive style.
“We’re the quickest we’ve been in a long, long time,” McAfee said. “I think that will help us out.”
The rams finished 4-8 last season, losing in the second round to Raton.
Following the Robertson game, Portales travels to Muleshoe on Sept. 5.
“We’re going to get some bumps and scrapes Friday night,” Correll said. “But our ability to overcome them is going to be a big test for us.”a