The Clovis Wildcats are determined not to let the sun set on their season until they reach the Class 5A state title game. Clovis hosts Rio Grande at 2 p.m. Saturday in the state quarterfinals. CNJ photo by Rick White.
By Rick White
Clovis junior Elliott Hita may have been in the gym playing basketball, but his mind kept wandering to the football field.
Had he done the right thing, trading in his cleats for sneakers? He wondered if his family was right. Would he regret not playing football his last two years of high school?
He knew he missed football. He just didn’t know how much.
“After a while I realized I loved the game of football,” Hita said. “I missed practice, I missed my teammates.
“I’m so glad I came back out.”
So are his coaches and teammates.
Hita arguably made the Wildcats’ two biggest plays during the District 4-5A season.
His 37-yard catch on fourth-and-18 late in the fourth quarter set up the game-tying touchdown in Friday’s 31-24 triple-overtime win over Carlsbad as the playoff-bound Wildcats (8-2) won their second district title in three seasons.
He also played well in his second start of the season at free safety, making seven solo tackles and breaking up a pass. He’s replacing senior Mark Young, who suffered a season-ending knee injury two weeks ago against Manzano.
In the district opener, Hita intercepted a deflected pass and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown, giving Clovis a 10-0 halftime lead over Eldorado in a game where the heavily favored Wildcats were struggling.
“He has great football sense,” Kelley said. “He’s very coachable and he’s not afraid to hit somebody.”
Elliott slowly worked his way up the depth chart after missing the first three games.
“He had a chance to think about it and he decided to come back,” Kelley said. “He didn’t come out expecting to play a lot. He ran with the (scout) team and the second and third units. But he did a good job of getting himself prepared to play when he got the chance.”
Kelley said Hita was one of three players to join the team after the season started.
Senior Jason Seefeld has made all seven of his field goal attempts in the last two games and is 9-of-11 for the season.
Seefeld kicked three field goals in the win over Carlsbad, including a 25-yarder that sent the game into the third overtime.
“Once you start making a few and it gets a lot easier,” Seefeld said.
By the numbers
5 — Players on the Rio Grande roster listed at more than 250 pounds.
13 — Average points per game the Wildcats are allowing.
14 — Team-high tackles against Carlsbad by junior defensive tackle Jason Burns.
21 — Straight state quarterfinal games Eric Roanhaus has won — against no losses.
25 — Turnovers the Wildcats have forced versus six they have committed.
30 — Pass receptions that led first downs out of 41 completions.
103 — Yards junior Phillip Williams needs to reach 1,000 for the season.
3,008 — Yards the Wildcats have gained this season.