Clovis junior Phillip Williams has three-straight 100-yard rushing efforts. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth.
Clovis-Hobbs rivalry is built on proximity and generations of battles between the purple-and-white and black-and-gold: Two towns of similar size and makeup separated by 180 miles of barren ranch land and pump jacks battling for bragging rights.
They even play for a trophy called “The Rebel,” a metal replica of a cannon that lists the winner of every game dating back to 1967 — Clovis leads the series 26-10.
Second-year Hobbs coach Phillip Roybal might be the only person in Hobbs or Clovis that doesn’t view Friday’s District 4-5A matchup at Leon Williams Stadium between the two schools as a rivalry.
“I don’t see it as much of a rivalry, but the kids might see it different,” Roybal said. “Besides, we haven’t made it much of a rivalry lately.
“Our big thing is trying to get in a position to win a big game.”
In contrast, Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley has had a life-long disdain for the black-and-gold, going back to the days his dad was a Clovis junior high coach and fostered through three years of varsity football and 13 years as an Wildcat assistant coach.
“If you can’t get ready to play Hobbs, there’s something wrong with you,” Kelley said. “We’ve always wanted to beat Hobbs.
“Most of these guys have grown up not liking Hobbs.”
Rivalry aside, the game is another stepping stone in Clovis’ pursuit for its third-straight state playoff appearance.
The Wildcats (5-2), who jumped back into The Associated Press poll this week at No. 5, have won four straight games, including last week’s 31-0 win at Eldorado in its district opener in which Clovis struggled until the fourth quarter.
Kelley said the Wildcats need a better effort.
“Our biggest problem last week was we didn’t show up ready to play,” Kelley said. “And there’s no excuse for that this late in the season.
“We have to practice hard and take it out onto the field.”
Hobbs (1-6, 0-0) has struggled under Roybal, with only two wins in the last two seasons. It has played well recently in losses to Goddard (30-28) and Alamogordo (21-16).
Roybal said a bye last week allowed the Eagles time to get healthy mentally and physically.
“I think we’re a better team than we were a year ago,” Roybal said. “But I’m not looking for moral victories, I’m more interested in wins and losses.”
Clovis beat Hobbs 50-6 last season.
Hobbs keeps things simple on offense, trying to soften defenses by pounding mammoth fullback William Waldron (5-9, 265) up the middle and then springing speedy sophomore Eddie Jackson (286 yards in three games) to the outside.
Senior Jordan Wells (394 receiving yards ) is senior quarterback Tyler Barnett’s favorite target.
“We’ll try to throw deep to stop teams from loading up against the run,” Roybal said. “We’ve had some success doing that.”
Roybal said in Clovis he sees a team that has taken dramatic strides as the season’s progressed.
“In order for us to win we have to stay away from turnovers and giving up big plays on special teams,” Roybal said. “Some of the things (Clovis) has done on special teams is scary.”
Kelley said Hobbs is a good enough team that “if we don’t play well they can beat us.”
“They’ve gotten better,” Kelley said. “What worries me is what are they going to do in the two weeks they’ve had off. I don’t think they’re going to change everything, but I’m sure they’re going to have something planned.”
Clovis has beaten Hobbs by a combined score of 101-12 the last two seasons ... Junior Phillip Williams
has three-straight 100-yard ruhsing efforts for the Wildcats ... Seniors Ben Teconchuk
and Mark Young
have combiines for 16 catches for 429 yards and nine TD catches ... Senior DE Jarod Baldwin
has six of the Wildcats’ 11 sacks. ... Senior LB Jeff Epps
continues to lead the Wildcats in tackles with 65. Junior DT Jason Burns
is second with 57.
“If you can’t get ready to play Hobbs there’s something wrong with you. ... Most of these guys grew up us ... not liking Hobbs.” – Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley.