Clovis senior Jose Guiterrez tries to get around the block of senior Johnathan Fails during practice Thursday at the high school. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth
Rick White: CNJ Managing Editor
Highland’s Wing T offense is about as mysterious as a teenage romantic comedy.
Boy meets girl. Hornets run sweep. Boy and girl fall in love. Hornets run counter. Boy and girl live happily ever after. Hornets run counter.
Successful formulas for both movie moguls and veteran Highland coach Judge Chavez.
Knowing what is coming is one thing. Stopping it is another. Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley is well aware of that heading into Saturday’s game against the Hornets at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque. All he needs to do is look at film of last year’s game in which the Hornets buzzed up and down the field while cruising to a 33-13 win.
And to make matters worse, the Hornets returned most of their key players from last year, including speedy senior quarterback Ian Clark and massive lineman Phillip Harrison.
“You have to be disciplined. They’ve got guys going in every direction,” Kelley said. “But if we will be physical and hit someone, we should be OK.”
But the third-ranked Hornets (1-0) limp into the game off a 20-0 win over lowly Valley.
Chavez said senior running back Ben Marshall will miss his second-straight game with an Achilles’ tendon strain while Clark and Harrison are listed as doubtful. Clark injured his non-throwing shoulder in the first quarter against Valley and did not return to the game. Harrison banged up his knee in practice.
Chavez, who tried to take the injuries in stride, said senior Tristen Barrett and sophomore Tim Medina would replace Clark if the shifty senior didn’t play.
“With Clovis coming to town it’s not a good time to be wounded,” Chavez said.
Still, he said Clark, Marshall and Harrison are all Division I prospects and will be hard to replace.
“We’ll go out there and do the same things. We’re still going to try and go out and win the game,” Chavez said. “You just have to go to the next guy.
“Sometimes it works out in your favor because a lot of times you find out the backup is pretty good.”
The Wildcats (0-2) are coming off a strong second-half showing in last week’s 20-18 loss at Pampa, Texas, in which Clovis rallied for three touchdowns in the final 14 minutes. But the comeback bid was short-circuited by critical mistakes down the stretch, including a missed extra-point and a failed two-point conversion that would have tied the game.
But it’s something to build on after the Wildcats looked dreadful in a season-opening 35-0 loss to Mayfield.
“We need something good to happen,” Kelley said. “When we scored, that seemed to get out motors running.”
All three scores against Pampa came following turnovers.
“That really seemed to get us going,” said Wildcats free safety Elliott Hita, who intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. “If we play like we did in the fourth quarter for the whole game, we’ll be OK.”
Clovis (0-2) at Highland (1-0),
7 p.m. Satuday, Mile Stadium
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 27th season. Highland, Judge Chavez, 10th
Last week: A Clovis rally fell short in a 20-18 loss at Pampa, Texas. Highland opened with a 20-0 win over Valley.
Last meeting: Highland ran over Clovis 33-13
Basic offense/defense: Clovis, Pro set/50. Highland, Wing-T, 4-4
Highland players to watch: Phillip Harrison, 6-4, 275, Sr., OG/DT; Ian Clark, 6-0, 190, Sr., QB/CB; Channing Fiaseu, 5-9, 155, Sr., RB/LB.
Keys to the game: Highland has eight two-way starters. IF Clovis can keep the game close, depth could be a factor.
Quotable: “You have to be disciplined. They’ve got guys going in every direction. But if we will be physical and hit someone, we should be OK.” – Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley
Injury update: Highland senior RB Benjiman Marshall is expected to miss a second-straight game. Clark suffered a injury to his non-throwing shoulder (rotator cuff) in the first quarter of last week’s game and did not return to the game. Harrison banged up his knee in practice this week and Chavez said it was doubtful he will play.