Clovis special teams making big impact

Junior Alex Everett plays on four of the Wildcats’ five special teams, including as the long snapper on field goals and extra points.

Rick White

Just like a vehicle that won’t start, nothing frustrates a coach more than a special teams breakdown.
That’s why the Clovis Wildcats spend so much time working on them.
“It’s important enough that we work on some aspect of it in practice every day,” Clovis special teams coach Darren Kelley said. “They’ve helped us win games in the past, and lose games.”
Junior Alex Everett plays on four of the Wildcats’ five special teams units, including as the long snapper on extra points and field goals.
“You don’t really get the recognition for having a good game,” Everett said. “But mess up, and everybody notices.”
Kelley said he’s been pleased with the play of his special teams heading into Saturday’s District 4-5A showdown at Manzano.
Clovis (6-2, 2-0 in district) can wrap up its third-straight playoff berth with a win over the Monarchs (7-2, 2-1).
n Senior placekicker Jason Seefeld has been nearly automatic on extra points (32-of-34), and has connected on 4-of-6 field goal attempts.
“Jason has done a really good job on not only extra-points and field goals, but he’s kicked the ball where we want (on kickoffs),” Kelley said.
Kelley said directional kicking is an important and often overlooked aspect of the kicking game. He said placing kickoffs and punts between the hashmark and the sideline shrinks the options of the return man.
“Every time we get in trouble is when we kick it down the middle of the field,” Kelley said.
n The Wildcats have scored twice on special teams. Mark Young scored on a 67-yard punt return in a win over Goddard and Ben Teconchuk scored on a 67-yard pass from Jeff Epps on a fake punt against Tascosa.
n Young has blocked two extra points, and Jarod Baldwin blocked a punt that resulted in a safety against Roswell.
“A really big return or a blocked kick can really swing the momentum,” Kelley said. “But the big part is field position — that’s why catching punts and kicking the ball where we ask them to is so important.”
The Wildcats have been particularly dangerous on punt returns, averaging 22.3 yards a return.
In addition to his touchdown, Young has a 66-yard return and Mark Replogle has a 74-yard return.
“The biggest thing is the guys up front blocking have done a good job,” Kelley said. “Once they get a big block and we start having some success, they really get into it.”
Everett said it’s turned into a competition among the team on who can deliver the key block or big hit on punt returns.
“Special teams can make or break a team,” Everett said. “It’s a big part of the game.”