Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

QCS Staff 

Get ready for Rattler football


August 22, 2018

Ron Warnick

Tucumcari's T.J. Lampkin runs the football during a scrimmage Thursday against the Clovis junior varsity.

Ready or not, the Tucumcari High School football team's season begins Friday. Its first foe isn't a cupcake, either.

The Rattlers travel to Tierra Amarilla, New Mexico, to play always-tough Escalante. Longtime Lobos head coach Dusty Giles is coming off a 10-2 season, losing in the Class 2A championship to Fort Sumner. The Lobos have won three state titles since 2012. Kickoff for Friday's game is 7 p.m.

Tucumcari head coach Wayne Ferguson, in his eighth season, said last week he hadn't seen game film of Escalante. But he said the Lobos probably will be a handful.

"They're a perennial playoff team," Ferguson said. "They are a small school that gets a lot of kids out (for football). They use their speed a lot. Sometimes they use big three- to five-foot splits to try to spread out your defensive line and cause problems.

"Defensively, they just line up and rush you. They try to put as much pressure as they can to cause problems."

Against such a potent team, Ferguson said his Rattlers aren't as fully prepared as he'd like.

"We're still in the learning phase with a shortened start to the season," Ferguson said Thursday after a scrimmage with Clovis' junior-varsity team. "This is just our ninth day out (in workouts). In the last couple of years, this would have been our 14th day out."

The scrimmage against Clovis' JV also proved to be abbreviated. Despite starting a little early, Tucumcari ran only 20 offensive plays before referees cleared the field because of approaching storms and lightning. Ferguson said he'd hoped to run a total of 80 plays on offense and defense.

Still, Ferguson liked what little he observed.

"We saw some good things," he said. "We moved the ball fairly well."

Last week saw the emergence of sophomore Elijah Jimenez as Tucumcari's frontrunner for the starting quarterback job. His backups are junior Andrew Casteel and freshman Ayden Lusk.

Ferguson remains optimistic a bigger dose of team speed will boost his squad's fortunes after a 2-9 season last year. Among the starters he's expecting big contributions include Kaleb Hayes, all-district offensive tackle and defensive end; Seth Martinez: running back, receiver and defensive back; Robbie Hartmann, fullback and outside linebacker; and Rod Dunlap: all-district wide receiver and strong safety. Dunlap, however, will miss the Escalante game because of National Guard boot-camp training.

House Municipal Schools is in a cooperative agreement with the Fort Sumner football program, which won the Class 2A state championship in 2017 with a perfect 11-0 record. Brad Holland's team has at least one athlete from the House district - senior Dylan Reed.

Fort Sumner begins its season at 7 p.m. Friday at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell.


• The Logan Longhorns are coming off two previous losing seasons with a new coach, their third in three years.

• "No one believes in us," Chase Hittson, a senior tailback, said Friday. "Our job is to make them believe this season."

• New coach Chase Disney is happy to note all but two of his starters are returning. Only Hadon Tobin at cornerback and Mateo Rodriguez at left guard are new to the eight-man starting lineup this year, Disney said.

• He is also heartened, he said, because " a lot of new kids came on this year."

• Last year, the Longhorns advanced to the quarterfinals in district play.

• Disney is counting on seniors Hittson; Kyle Knight Jr., starting quarterback; and Chase Earle, at defensive end and offensive guard, to lead the team on offense and defense, he said.

• The team is building up a "brotherhood" theme in an effort to unite the squad. The three seniors used the term "brother" to refer to each other. When the team huddled, they shouted "brotherhood" before breaking out.

• The Longhorns' toughest games are expected to be their 7 p.m. opener at Mountainair on Friday and the contests against Melrose and Mesilla Valley, the seniors said.

San Jon/Grady

• San Jon/Grady head football coach Adrian Jones led the team to the semifinals of state six-man competition after chalking up a 5-3 record in his first year at San Jon.

• He and his assistant coach Marc Salas have "real confidence" for this year's squad "against any team," he said.

• San Jon / Grady faces its first test at 4 p.m. Friday at home against Vaughn.

• The team has speed and good blocking on offense and defense-usually the same team members in six man, he said.

• It also has Chisum Rush Jr., a junior quarterback, who Jones said is a "go-to" guy for offense, defense and keeping up team spirit.

• This year's team, he said, is mostly young and inexperienced, and, he said that causes a little concern.

• It's a small team, he said, but "these guys will be tested" before they start the season.

• "I don't take it easy on them," he said.

• Jones said the team is most concerned about district games with Elida and Springer this year.


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