Austin Ware (82) and Zeke Wheeler (24) were among several Clovis High defenders involved in this play in a game last season against Hobbs at Leon Williams Stadium. CNJ file photo
They’re all young, of course, but that doesn’t mean Clovis High’s representatives on the South squad in tonight’s 60th version of the New Mexico High School Coaches Association football game don’t appreciate a break in the weather.
“It’s pretty rough on our bodies right now,” free safety Drew Hatley said of the short time to prepare for the game. “Today (Wednesday) was beautiful. The past few days had been hot.”
Added linebacker Zeke Wheeler: “Monday and Tuesday, it felt like it was 120 degrees out here. We were pretty sore until (Wednesday). We kind of eased into it on Monday and Tuesday, but we’ve been getting after it.”
Other Clovis all-stars are center Jacob Roberts, defensive end Austin Ware and wide receiver Justin Coffey. They will all try to help the South add to its 37-18-4 lead in the series dating to 1940, including a 12-4-1 mark since 1986.
Players checked in Sunday for the 7 p.m. contest at University Stadium on the University of New Mexico campus.
Coffey was a late addition to the squad as a replacement, and didn’t even appear on a roster faxed out to media last weekend by the NMHSCA.
“I had no idea,” Coffey said of his selection. “(CHS assistant coach Darren) Kelley called me Tuesday night (of last week) at work.
“I had to make quite a few calls to be able to get away to play. My boss was pretty nice; she found a way for me to go.”
Former Los Lunas coach Avilio Chavez, the South’s head coach, said the team has come together quickly in its limited time.
“I’m real pleased,” Chavez said. “One of the best things that has happened is getting to know these guys. They’re not only good football players, but very respectful kids.
“We’re not working any technique-type stuff. We’re just trying to get our packages in and let them play football.”
Hatley, with a partial scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University, is the only one of the CHS grads who knows he will be reporting for practice somewhere this month. It’s exciting, he admitted, but challenging.
“I worry thinking about it,” Hatley said. “It’s another phase in my life.”
Roberts said he’ll attend Texas Tech this fall and not play, adding that he plans to try to walk on with the Red Raiders next year. He said in talking to Tech coaches, he’ll have to add up to 40 pounds to his 240-pound frame to play either center or possibly defensive end at that level.
“It’s going to be a good break,” he said of not playing this year. “It’s about time for a break. I’d like to play (center) if I reach my weight goal, but I’ll play wherever they put me.”
Wheeler said his plans at the moment are to walk on at either ENMU or West Texas A&M, although a good performance this week could lead to something more substantial.
Meantime, it’ll be the last game for both Coffey and Ware.
“You get to play with some of the best athletes in the state,” Ware said. “There’s a lot of good athletes, and it’s really competitive.
“We’re out here to have fun, but we’re still out here to play. A lot of guys here have the potential to play in college.”
Ware said he will attend Texas Tech this fall, and hopes to become an electrical engineer.
“I’d just like to get out there and have a good time,” he said of tonight’s game. “I want to make the most of it.”
Coffey said he will alternate plays at flanker with Las Cruces’ Phillip Ponce. He also could see some action on defense at cornerback.
“We’ve only got four DBs (defensive backs),” he said, “so if someone gets hurt or tired I’d probably go in.”