By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
With most of the evaluating process behind them, Eastern New Mexico University football coach Mark Ribaudo is hoping the Greyhounds can cap their spring workouts in style with Saturday’s 3 p.m. scrimmage against an alumni squad at Greyhound Stadium.
Ribaudo said he’s hoping about 45 players are able to play for the alumni, to be coached by former Portales High coach Glenn Johnson. Meantime, the Hounds have around 72 players in spring drills, although some will not play due to injury.
The Hounds opted for the alumni game over the usual Green-and-Silver intrasquad scrimmage.
ENMU has had a couple of intrasquad scrimmages during spring drills, and Ribaudo said those contests are probably a better indicator of where the team is than the alumni game.
“This is really a tool to get the alumni involved,” he said.
Still, he said the alumni could provide a test.
“If they’re in good enough shape, it could be a formidable team,” Ribaudo said. “The good thing about this is we’ll be going up against somebody different.”
Quarters will be 15 minutes and most usual game rules will apply, Ribaudo said. Kickoff returns will be live, but there will be no punt returns and teams will not be allowed to rush against extra points or field goals.
Ribaudo said the Hounds have made significant progress this spring in the offensive line and secondary, both areas of concern.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised with our secondary; we’ve changed some things and we’ve been playing really well,” he said. “And our offensive line is showing some progress.”
Brandon Dominguez, who will be a junior in the fall, has transitioned from quarterback to cornerback and said the changes in the secondary basically involve tweaking coverages.
“I think everything is working out good,” said Dominguez, who primarily was a kick returner last season. “I wanted to do something different. It’s been fun, and a big change.”
Heath Ridenour, now an assistant coach at Clovis High whose last season at ENMU was 2002, will put together the offense and play quarterback for the alumni team. Steven Hinson, who played QB in 2003 and 2004 and rushed for more than 1,000 yards both seasons, is also scheduled to return.
Among former defensive standouts expected back are linebacker Jimmy Hamilton, cornerback Corey White and end Eric Williams.
Senior Tim Ojeda, a starting outside linebacker who completed his college eligibility in the fall, said he’s anxious to get back on the field as a member of the alumni squad. He suffered hamstring and MCL injuries last fall, but pronounced himself “100 percent” healthy.
“I’ve gotten quite lonely without football, so to get out there again will be great,” Ojeda said. “From what I hear, we have some good players coming back.”
He said he’s tried to stay in relatively good shape since the end of the season.
“I took some time off (after the season to heal the injuries),” he said. “I’ve just started running again, so I’m a little bit behind.”