Improved practice habits key for Cats

Clovis junior Phillip Williams was the leading rusher against Valley in his first varsity start. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

Rick White

Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley isn’t ready to declare the Wildcats’ roller coaster ride in the first four games of the season over yet.
The Wildcats have won two games by a combined scored of 83-0 and lost lopsided games to Mayfield and Highland. Clovis blanked Valley 42-0 Saturday.
Kelley said the week-to-week fluctuations that have left the coaching staff queasy is a byproduct of two things:
> Quality of opponents — Valley and Roswell are a combined 0-7.

> inconsistent practice habits.

“This is a big week,” Kelley said of Friday’s game against Amarillo Tascosa. “They’re a lot better than the two teams we beat.
“The big thing is they (Clovis players) worked really hard (in practice) last week. If we do that the next six weeks we’ll be OK.”
Williams returns
Junior Phillip Williams played well in his first varsity game, rushing for a team-high 66 yards on six carries, including a 48-yard run.
“That was a good start for him and he’s only going to get better,” Kelley said. “He’s got the quickness we need.”
Williams was a member of last year’s state championship 400-meter relay team.
“I was nervous until I got hit,” said Williams, who suffered a dislocated elbow in practice before the season started. “After that, I felt pretty good.”
Burns adjusting well
Junior DL Jason Burns is getting better every week, according to Kelley.
Burns had 12 tackles against Valley, including five solos, and recovered a fumble.
Burns was switched from linebacker to nose guard during the off-season and then to defensive tackle after the first game.
“It lets me take advantage of my speed,” Burns said of the switch from the middle of the line. “I can make a lot more tackles.
He said the hardest part of the adjustment is learning to run down the line to make tackles instead of going up field.
“I think we’re getting better every week,” Burns said of the defense that held Valley to 84 yards.
Line picks up play
Line coach Joaquin Garcia said the Wildcats first-string offensive line graded out higher against Valley than it has all season. Senior guard Philip Salazar led the way.
“We challenged them last week and they responded,” Garcia said. ‘The good thing is they want to get better.
“We’re getter better every week and doing a better job of staying on our blocks.”
Getting his props
Junior QB John Props continues to impress the coaching staff with his athleticism and accurate arm, Kelley said. Props rushed for 44 yards on six carries and added a pair of TD passes against Valley. He leads the team with 196 yards rushing and has thrown six TD passes in three games. “He’s starting figure out to take the first seam available and turn it up,” Kelley said. “The thing about the option is you have to run it every day to get better.”
Notes: Senior LB Jeff Epps led the Wildcats last week with 13 tackles, including nine solos … Senior CB Angelo Sandoval had his first interception … Senior FS/WR Mark Young blocked a field-goal attempt and made a clutch 28-yard catch to keep a drive alive. “Finally, somebody sold out,” Kelley said of the blocked kick … Senior WR Ben Teconchuk is averaging 20.7 yards on seven catches and has four TDs. … Senior DE Jarod Baldwin leads the team with 20 tackles