Wildcats win district with defense

Clovis’ Cade Wheeler returns an interception for the games first score during the first half against Carlsbad Friday at Leon Williams Stadium. Clovis defeated Carlsbad 42-6. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

The Clovis Wildcats will take a nine-game winning streak into the state playoffs thanks to a strong defensive effort.

Taking advantage of four first-half interceptions, Clovis routed Carlsbad 42-6 Friday at Leon Williams and in the process gave veteran Wildcats head coach Eric Roanhaus his 19th district title.

Devin Sweet collected two interceptions and added a short touchdown run while Brian Mead and Rishard Matthews added a pair of scores as Clovis (9-1, 2-0 District 4-5A) beat Carlsbad for the 15th time in the last 16 meetings.

“Defensively we did a good job in the first half being physical and creating turnovers,” Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said. “I was real pleased defensively.”

Junior linebacker Wheeler, who returned an interception 42 yards for the Wildcats’ first score, said the preparation was the key to the defensive production.

“The guys on defense, we worked hard all week,” Wheeler said. “We deserved to play well, and we did.”

Wheeler snared a tipped pass near the line of scrimmage and outraced several Cavemen to the end zone.

“I just thank God I was put at the right place at the right time,” Wheeler said. “I was just hoping I wasn’t going to be caught from behind.”

Carlsbad coach Kelley Wilson said mistakes doomed his team.

“Clovis is a good football team,” Wilson said. “We knew that coming in here. We just made far to many mistakes to give ourselves a chance.”

Matthews caught a 38-yard touchdown to put Clovis up two scores late in the first quarter after the first of Sweet’s two picks.

Sweet snuck in from 3 yards out after Randy Cerda got the third interception and Brian Mead scored on an 8-yard run after another Sweet pick to make it 28-0 midway through the second quarter.

Clovis scored one more time before halftime on one of the stranger plays of the season.

With under a minute to play, Sweet connected with senior Brandon Cook for a 48-yard gain. Cook fumbled the ball at the Carlsbad 10, however, Matthews swooped in, picked up the loose ball, and ran in for his 13th TD of the season.

“It was nuts,” Cook said. “I really didn’t think it would come to me. Right when I saw the ball, I thought, ‘end zone.’ But I carried it in the wrong arm.”

From the sideline, Wheeler said he did not know how that play was going to turn out.

“One moment I was up, the next I was down, then I saw Rishard running and I was freaking out,” Wheeler said. “I didn’t know what to think.”

Cook’s reception was the first by Wildcat other than Matthews or Mead all season. Senior Brian Hudson also made his first reception of the year in the third quarter.

“It was sad to see that Cook and Hudson didn’t score,” Matthews said. “I really wanted to see them score.”

Nathan Clark completed 7 of 24 passes for 65 yards for Carlsbad, including a 16-yard TD pass to Burnell Booker with 16 seconds left in the game.

Carlsbad (3-7, 1-1) also qualifies for the playoffs as the district runnerup.

Clovis 42, Carlsbad 6
Carlsbad 0 0 0 6 — 6
Clovis 14 21 7 0 — 42
Scoring summary
First quarter
Clo —
Cade Wheeler 42-yard interception return (Kiko Velez kick) 7:35
Clo — Rishard Matthews 38-yard pass from Devin Sweet (Velez kick) 1:54
Second quarter
Clo — Sweet 3-yard run (Velez kick) 11:18
Clo — Brian Mead 8-yard run (Velez kick) 4:49
Clo — Matthews 10-yard fumble recovery (Velez kick) :41
Third quarter
Clo — Mead 1-yard run (Velez kick) :40
Fourth quarter
Car — Burnell Booker 16-yard pass from Nathan Clark (kick blocked) :16
Team statistics
Car Clo
First downs 9 6
Rushes-yards 22-101 27-89
Passing yards 65 150
Com-att-int 7-24-4 5-8-0
Total yards 166 239
Penalies-yards 6-50 3-25
Punting 5-36.0 4-42.0
Fumbles-lost 0-0 2-1
Individual statistics
Rushing — Carlsbad, Caleb Bellah 11-67, Austin Peralta 4-23, Clark, 5-2, Alex Bustos 2-9. Clovis, Mead 14-61, Tanner Fickling 8-30, Devin Sweet 3-minus 6, Jaden Isler 2-4.
Passing — Carlsbad, Clark 7-24-65-4. Clovis, Sweet 5-8-150-0.
Receiving — Carlsbad, Michael Rice 3-33, Booker 1-16, Bustos 1-10, Gabe Vera 1-3, Peralta1-3. Clovis, Matthews 3-80, Brandon Cook 1-48, Brian Hudson 1-22.