By Rick White
Rodney Ferguson left a big impression and quite a few welts on the Clovis Wildcats.
The Manzano senior running back capped a standout high school career that included three-straight 1,000-yard seasons by rushing the Wildcats for 195 yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s 34-28 loss that eliminated the Monarchs from playoff contention.
“He was a beast,” said Clovis senior linebacker Jeff Epps, who finished with a team-high 12 tackles in the District 4-5A showdown. “He keeps his legs driving and breaks a lot of tackles.”
Clovis defensive coordinator coach Darren Kelley also had high praise for Ferguson, who also delivered a couple of vicious blows coming up from his safety spot.
“Ferguson may have played his best game,” Kelley said. “There’s a reason he’s a leading rusher in the state. But we missed a lot of tackles.”
Epps pulls double duty
Epps was a busy man for the Wildcats (7-2), who won their sixth-straight game while improving to 3-0 in district.
Beside leading the team in tackles, he also returned an interception 50 yards to the Manzano 1-yard line to set up the Wildcats’ first touchdown and threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mario Caswell in his first action of the season under center.
Epps, who snared a pass tipped by senior defensive end Jarod Baldwin, said he was running as hard as he could and thought he was going score.
“He just came out of nowhere. I really wanted to score.”
Epps also had a 1-yard TD sneak wiped out by a motion penalty.
His third-down TD toss came when starting quarterback John Props left the game for a play with a twisted ankle.
“It wasn’t a big deal,” said Epps, who split time at quarterback last year and take snaps with the second team every day in practice.
“It wasn’t really supposed to go to Mario, but I saw Ferguson was tired and out too wide and Mario just ran inside of him.”
Props also left the game for a couple plays when he had his bell rung by a Ferguson hit at the goal line.
Kelley said Props was fine after game and will play this week against Carlsbad.
A forgotten man most of the season, Caswell doubled his receiving output against Manzano with two catches for 38 yards. The TD catch was his first of the season. … Junior Joseph Pearson saw his first extensive action of the season. Playing linebacker when the Monarchs were in passing formations, Pearson finished with nine tackles and one pass breakup. “He stepped up and did a great job for us,” Kelley said. … The Wildcats blocked two more kicks against the Monarchs. Baldwin blocked his second punt, setting up Caswell’s TD and Mark Young got a hand on an extra-point attempt that sailed wide. … Senior nose guard Wade Lopez and junior defensive tackle Alex Everett had big plays in the second half when Clovis held Manzano to eight points. Lopez stripped the ball from Ferguson and recovered it to set up one of Jason Seefeld’s four field goals. Everett sacked Breck Vernon for an 8-yard loss on third down on Manzano’s final drive, which ended with a incomplete pass on fourth down. … With the four FGs and two extra points, Seefeld moved into the team lead in scoring with 52 points.