Freedom New Mexico: Liliana Castillo Tarleton State running back Michael Sampson follows a block from guard Michael Jones (61) for a short touchdown run during last week’s game with Eastern New Mexico University at Blackwater Draw.
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
The Eastern New Mexico University football team knew things would get pretty tough once Lone Star Conference South Division play began. It’s been all of that for the Greyhounds, and probably more.
ENMU (4-4, 0-4 South) will try to break its four-game division slide tonight at Texas A&M-Kingsville, a place where the Hounds have never managed a win.
Meantime, the Javelinas (1-7, 0-3) are in a transition year and also have been struggling. Southeastern Oklahoma coach Keith Baxter replaced longtime coach Richard Cundiff after last season, then resigned for family reasons in June and was replaced by defensive coordinator Bo Atterberry, who had served the same role for Baxter at Southeastern.
Ironically, Kingsville’s only win this season was over Southeastern in late September.
“It’s a tough situation to get put in,” ENMU coach Mark Ribaudo said of Atterberry. “But I tell you what, those kids play hard. They’ve been close in a lot of games (five losses by 10 points or less).”
ENMU, though, has its own problems. Ribaudo said senior quarterback Michael Benton remains “questionable” after sitting out last week’s 40-10 loss to Tarleton State with a leg injury, and the Hounds are also nursing a number of other bumps and bruises.
If Benton can’t go, redshirt freshman Anthony Ramos would get a second consecutive start. Ramos went 7-of-19 for 110 yards and a touchdown and rushed 19 times for 83 yards against Tarleton.
Meantime, the Javs hope to have redshirt freshman David Garza back at QB after he sat out most of last week with an ankle injury. Third-stringer David Ramirez replaced him as the starter in a 73-6 shellacking at Midwestern State.
“They’ll bounce back,” Ribaudo said of the Javs. “They’re not going to quit.”
Senior slotback Zach Gerleve said the team can’t underestimate anyone at this point.
“They’re a better team than (their record),” he said. “They’ve got some good players on defense. We’ve just got to go out there and show up to play.”
Gerleve, who is playing despite a separated shoulder sustained in September against East Central, said it would be nice to be the first ENMU team to win at Kingsville. The teams have met every year since 1985 and the Hounds are 4-18 overall, including 0-11 at Kingsville.
“Any time you can go do something that nobody else has done, it’s extra motivation,” he said.
ENMU at Texas A&M-Kingsville
When: 5 p.m. (MDT) today in a Lone Star Conference South Division game.
Records: ENMU 4-4 (0-4 South), Texas A&M-Kingsville 1-7 (0-3).
Last week: ENMU lost to No. 10 Tarleton State 40-10 at Blackwater Draw. Meantime, Kingsville absorbed a 73-6 drubbing at the hands of 23rd-ranked Midwestern State, the most lopsided loss in school history.
Radio: KSEL-FM 95.3.
On the Net: www.enmusports.com
Coaches: Eastern New Mexico, Mark Ribaudo, 3rd year; Texas A&M-Kingsville, Bo Atterberry, 1st year.
Last meeting: 2006, ENMU cruised to a 37-14 victory over the Javelinas at Blackwater Draw.
Texas A&M-Kingsville players to watch: Ryan Lincoln, 6-0, 175, Fr., WR; David Garza, 6-1, 205, Fr., QB; Jimmy Lugo, 6-1, 247, Jr., DE; Rod Mosley, 5-10, 175, Sr., CB; Raymorris Miller, 5-6, 173, Sr., RB; Christopher Williams, 6-1, 263, Sr., DT.
Notes: With losses in two of their final three games, the Javelinas would equal the program’s worst record since 1983. Kingsville had winning records every year from 1984-98, and then again from 2001-05 before going 3-7 last season under Richard Cundiff. … Miller is No. 5 on the school’s all-time rushing list with 2,138 yards. He needs 25 yards tonight to reach 3,000 all-purpose yards for his career. … Kingsville has lost 11 South games in a row, dating to a 26-14 victory at home over ENMU on Oct. 22, 2005.
— Compiled by Dave Wagner