Brian Mead returns for his senior season at Clovis High School after rushing for 1,900 yards and 21 touchdowns last season, helping the Wildcats reach the Class 5A state championship game. (CNJ file photo)
The Clovis Wildcats will be looking to reload when they start two-a-day practices Monday. Clovis graduated 18 starters from last year’s team, which lost in the state finals to unbeaten Mayfield.
“We have a lot of holes to fill but if we can find some leaders to step forward I think we’ll be OK,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said.
Here’s a glimpse at how the Wildcats heading into fall practice.
They’re back: Clovis returns four starters — running back Brian Mead and wide receiver Rishard Matthews on offense and defensive tackle Michael Cohen and cornerback Diondre Hunter on defense. Punter and placekicker Robert North also returns.
Others returning players who saw extended time last year were linebacker Cade Wheeler, tight end Michael Lewis and defensive end Luke Masters.
New QB: The job is junior Jordan Mendoza’s to lose after Clovis decided not to move Matthews. Kelley said Matthews is more valuable at wide receiver, where he can stretch the defense as a runner and pass catcher. Matthews, who verbally committed to the University of Texas-El Paso, will be Mendoza’s backup.
Pick your poison: Mead and Matthews combined for more than 3,000 yards and 40 touchdowns last season. Double covering Matthews means taking a safety out of the run defense. Dedicate a safety to the run and it means single cover for Matthews.
More headaches for opponents: Throw junior running back Manuel Robles and junior wide receiver Bryce Hill in with Mead and Matthews and the Wildcats are loaded at the skill positions. Robles is a two-time state champion triple jumper while the 6-1 Hill started for the Wildcats basketball team last year.
Biggest holes to fill: Clovis graduated its entire offensive line,
including two-year starter Aaron Simon. The Wildcats are also looking at three new starters in the secondary.
Numbers game: The Wildcats staff expects to have 36 varsity and 70 junior varsity players out for football.
Sizing them up: Senior TE/DE Luke Masters is the tallest Wildcat at 6-foot-6. Senior wide receiver Keaton Howell is the shortest at 5-4.
Coaching shuffle: Former Wildcats quarterback Cal Fullerton has been elevated to the varsity staff, where he will coach the secondary and wide receivers. He replaces Joaguin Garcia, who coached the offensive and defensive lines. Assistant Bruce Scroggins will add the offense line to his duties while head coach Eric Roanhaus will oversee the interior defensive lineman.
Schedule changes: Clovis will play three new opponents in 2006 — Amarillo Palo Duro, Cibola and Eldorado. They replace Highland, Pampa, Texas, and Sandia.
Moving on: Five Wildcats from last year’s team are expected to play college football this fall:
* Linebacker Jonathan Sweet, safety Devin Sweet and running back Tanner Fickling at Eastern New Mexico University.
* Center Aaron Simon at Angelo State
* Defensive end Chris Finch at either New Mexico Military Institute or Snow (Ariz.) Junior College.
Monday – 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Tuesday – 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Wednesday – 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Thursday – 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Friday – 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Saturday – 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.