Cats begin bid for playoffs at Hobbs

Clovis quarterback Devin Sweet releases a throw during practice Thursday at the high school. Clovis travels to Hobbs today in the Wildcats’ District 4-5A opener. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

The fun and games are over, it’s time to get down to business.

Healthy and rested after a bye week, the Clovis Wildcats start District 4-5A play today at Hobbs.

“Every game from here on out is a must-win situation,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “It has to be important to your seniors from here on out. It’s their last six games — six games if we bust our butts, three if we don’t take care of business.”

Clovis (7-1) has two games left in the regular season and, most likely, would start the playoffs the second weekend of November.

District 4-5A play will be different this season with only three teams — the other four 5A districts in the state have at least five teams.

“I don’t like it at all,” Kelley said. “But there is nothing you can do about it. That is what the NMAA decided, that’s the way it’s gonna be.

“It’s different because you could lose one game and still be district champs when you had four or five teams (in the district).”

Two months into the season, Kelley said the team is relieved to finally get to district play.

“There are a couple districts who already have a district champ determined and we haven’t even played a district game yet,” Kelley said.

Senior strong safety Devin Hanson said the Cats are ready to play after a week off.

“We had a bye week, and now this is it,” Hanson said. “We are gonna get ready for district and get ready for the playoffs. I think we’re gonna let Hobbs have it.”

Hanson said he is healthy and will play today after suffering bruised ribs courtesy of a charging bull earlier this month at his family’s dairy. “I’m feeling great,” he said.

Hanson will rejoin a defense looking to shut down Hobbs senior running back Eddie Jackson.

“We’ve definitely got to stop him,” Kelley said. “Whether it’s the run or pass, everything is geared around him.”

Jackson missed last year’s matchup due to a family funeral. Clovis beat the Eagles 27-13.

The Wildcats have another, smaller incentive to beat thier Lea County rival — a traveling trophy called “The Rebel,” which is a miniature cannon given to the winner of the team’s annual game since 1968. Hobbs last held the trophy in 2000.

Senior Chase Denton said the Cats do not plan to give up.
“Oh, it’s big (to keep the trophy),” Denton said. “We’ve had it for a long time.”

Clovis can clinch a berth in the new-look 16 team playoff format today with a win. Carlsbad beat Hobbs (4-4, 0-1 4-5A) last week.

“If we win two games, we’re district champs and we get to play a home game (in the playoffs),” Kelley said. “That’s what we’re playing for, that chance to host a playoff game.”

Clovis at Hobbs
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Hobbs 4-4, 0-1 District 4-5A; Clovis 7-1, 0-0.
Coaches: Hobbs, Phillip Roybal; Clovis, Eric Roanhaus
Last meeting: 2004, Clovis defeated Hobbs 27-13
Last week: Hobbs lost to Carlsbad 36-21; Clovis had a bye.
Hobbs players to watch: Eddie Jackson, 5-11, 180, Sr., RB; Teron Bolton, 6-2, 180, Sr., QB; Michael White, 6-1, 175, Jr., RB-WR.
Keys to the game: Clovis needs to contain Jackson on the ground and in the air. Clovis running back Brian Mead (1,175 rushing yards) and receiver Rishard Matthews (28 catches, 583 yards, 10 TDs) could have big games against a suspect Hobbs defense.
By the numbers: 246 — Points allowed this season by Hobbs, second-most in 5A.
Quotable: “Hobbs has got players who can beat you if you give them the chance.” — Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley.