By Kevin Wilson
CNJ staff writer
Sideline, pooch or squib? It didn’t matter to the Cleveland Storm, as long as the ball was away from No. 20 … wait, No. 7.
Other than a rough second quarter, the visiting Storm had little problem in posting a 41-21 win at Leon Williams Stadium Friday night. The only issue was how to keep Kamal Cass — who rushed for 207 yards on 20 carries — from also imposing his will on special teams.
The opening kickoff was a pooch kick to the Clovis 25, which senior Traivon Sopila returned to the 47. The second and third were kicked out of bounds to start the Clovis drive off at the 35, and the fourth kickoff was returned to the Clovis 45 — but only after the Storm twice booted the kickoff out of bounds and Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus told the refs, “Kick it again.”
Nothing personal, says Ridenour. Just business.
“I know it’s frustrating for Kamal,” said Ridenour, “but that’s just part of the gameplan.”
In last year’s game at Rio Rancho, the Storm kicked the ball to Cass once, and he returned it to the Cleveland 15. Storm coach Heath Ridenour didn’t want to risk that again, and was more than willing to put Clovis near midfield as a tradeoff.
The game included what turned out to be two footnotes on Cass. First, he played the second half with the No. 7 jersey after his normal No. 20 was torn in the first half. More importantly, his three rushing touchdowns gave him 54 for his career, moving him past Brian Mead for the school record.
Domino effect: The Wildcats showed some life in the second quarter, as Cass finished off a nine-play, 55-yard drive with a 5-yard scoring run to make it 21-7.
The Storm looked like it would get those seven right back as returner Gabe Ortega sprinted ahead of the field.
He was pulled down by the last line of defense, kicker Adam Wagener, at the Clovis 49. The very next play, Storm quarterback Kian Homme aired out a flea-flicker pass that Clovis junior Kaine Bender came down with at the 15.
After a false start, Cass broke a series of tackles on an off-tackle run to the right and was off to the races. Two big plays made it 21-14, but one tackle kept it from being 28-7 with a high probability of a running clock.
Meanwhile, around 4-5A: Here’s a quick look at the weekend action for the rest of District 4-5A.
Friday night in Alamogordo, the Carlsbad Cavemen jumped out to a 13-0 lead en route to a 41-22 victory over the host Tigers. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Cavemen (2-2), which defeated Roswell 41-13 in the season opener. The Cavemen losses are to Del Rio, Texas (17-7) and Mayfield (43-29).
Hobbs is off to its first 4-0 start since 2000 following a 54-33 win over Onate at the Field of Dreams. Senior wide receiver Kolin Zembas had six catches for 210 yards and two long touchdowns — a 55-yarder to give Hobbs the lead for good in the second quarter and a 90-yard exclamation point in the second half — and a rushing touchdown.
Collectively, the Eagles have scored 179 points against Onate, Roswell, Artesia and Gadsden. Hobbs totaled 177 points last season.
Up the Creek: An update on Cherry Creek, Colo., the first opponent of the season for the Wildcats.
The Bruins had a 1-1 week, as previously unranked Douglas County scored an upset Monday night against the Bruins, with Bartlett Tomatea registering six sacks in a 23-10 win over then-No. 3 Cherry Creek.
The most recent Colorado High School Activities Association Now rankings weren’t kind to the Bruins, dropping them out of the top 10. It’s still to be seen what impact the Bruins’ 48-0 victory over winless Denver East will have on this week’s poll.
Next: Clovis travels to Rio Rancho, which is licking wounds as well following a 42-6 blasting by Las Cruces.