Lunch-pail approach works for Cats’ Cerda

Clovis High School senior nose tackle Randy Cerda convinced his parents to forgo a move to Raton before his sophomore season so he could play for his beloved Wildcats. (CNJ staff photo: Rick White)

By Rick White: CNJ managing editor

Playing a position where he is embedded in the human carnage known as the line of scrimmage, Clovis senior nose tackle Randy Cerda is under-equipped in the areas of size and speed.

He makes up for it with a lunch-pail approach to the game and solid technique.

It’s the same determination that helped him convince his parents to forgo a move to Raton before his sophomore season so he could play for his beloved Wildcats.

“I told them if they were going to move, I’d live with my uncle,” said 5-foot-11, 221-pound Cerda, who was on the varsity as a junior but played sparingly.

And the same determination that helped Cerda through the practices and weight-lifting sessions until it was his turn to start.

“He’s a great kid,” Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley said. “He’s always walking around and smiling. He’s not that big or fast, but he works hard and does what we ask him to do.”

Cerda finished with six solo tackles last week in his first varsity start, a 7-0 loss at Mayfield.

“I guess I played OK,” said Cerda, whose uncle Eddie Guajardo quarterbacked Clovis to its fourth of five straight state titles in 1984. “I didn’t get yelled at during film session.

“I was a little nervous before the game, but I’m going to be a lot more nervous (tonight) because it’s our first home game.”

The Wildcats (0-1) host perennial Texas playoff contender Pampa (1-0) at 7:30 p.m. at Leon Williams Stadium.

Pampa beat Class 3A Perryton 28-19 in a sloppily played opener last week, said first-year coach Bryan Wood.

Gutted by the graduation, the Class 4A Harvesters reloaded with players from a 10-0 junior varsity.

“A bunch of these guys have gone from junior varsity to a starting position,” said Wood, who took Sunray, Texas, to the Class 1A state semifinals last season. “They’re still getting used to the speed of the game.”

Wood said the Harvesters have tweaked their lineup this week, mostly in the secondary.

“We had some wrong guys in some wrong spots and we made some changes,” Wood said.

Operating out of a spread offense, the Harvesters are led by option quarterback Brody Smith and speedy senior wide receiver and return man Sharrod Young.

Young returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown last week against Perryton. His 51-yard punt return got Pampa on the board in last year’s 20-18 win over Clovis.

Wood said Clovis’ size and athleticism are concerns.

“We’re certainly not going to be able to line up and run over them,” said Wood, a Vega, Texas, native. “The thing you notice about (Clovis) is they play good technique. It’s obvious they’re coached well.”

The Wildcat didn’t show it against Mayfield, especially on offense. The Wildcats managed just 62 yards and three first downs and never moved the ball past midfield.

“It was a group effort. We didn’t block a soul,” said Kelley, lumping the line, running back and wide receivers together.

Although Clovis produced several spirited goal-line stands until Mayfield finally scored in the final minutes, Kelley said the Wildcats struggled on third down.

The normally run-oriented Trojans passed for 172 yards, with senior wide receiver Chris Hernandez doing the most damage with nine catches for 142 yards.

“If they needed six yards, they’d get eight. If they needed seven yards, they’d get nine,” Kelley said. “We probably played off (the receivers) a little too much, but we’ve got to do a better job of knowing down and distance.”

Pampa at Clovis
7 p.m. Friday
Leon Williams Stadium
Pampa 1-0, Clovis 0-1.
Last week: Pampa beat Perryton 28-19, Mayfield beat Clovis 7-0.
Last meeting: Pampa 20, Clovis 18 in 2004.
Coaches: Pampa, Bryan Wood, 1st season. Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 28th
Pampa players to watch: Brody Smith, 6-0, 173, Sr, QB; Sharrod Young, 5-9, 147, Sr., WR/S; James Coffee, 6-0, 180, Jr., RB/LB
By the numbers: Pampa graduated 30 seniors off last year’s regional semifinalists.
The skinny: Smith is dangerous as a runner and a passer and Young has big-play ability. Clovis needs something good to happen early to gain confidence, especially on offense.
Quotable: “The defense needs to step up. If we can get the offense going we should do pretty well.” — Randy Cerda, Clovis senior nose tackle