Teams that have just won a state title sometimes refer to a symbolic target being on their backs.
Portales, which earned the 2008 Class 3A football championship, has taken the idea a step further.
Instead of shying away from the possibility of additional pressure, the Rams are embracing it.
By actually making up T-shirts for the team with the design of a target. When worn, the Portales players literally have a target on the back.
"We know people are going to want a little revenge, take a shot, but I still think by week seven we're gonna be pretty tough," Correll said. "I expect great things out of Lovington, Ruidoso and Academy, but we're going to be pretty tough to beat by that time — if we stay healthy."
On offense, Portales returns speedy running back Jesus Davalos. Last year, Davalos piled up more than 1,000 yards rushing and was the target of then-quarterback Michael Trujillo to the tune of 1,500 yards receiving.
In '09, it'll be senior Shawn Carrasco delivering the ball to Davalos and others.
A year ago, Carrasco played wide receiver. It's been since his freshman season that he's seen any time at signal caller.
But Correll has faith in Carrasco's ability.
"He's a great baseball player, so we knew he was pretty natural at (throwing)," the Rams coach said. "He's not quite the deep threat Trujillo was last year. In this offense, about a 15-yard pass is as far as we're going to throw."
Davalos actually is the only offensive starting back at the same position from the championship season — a problem the defense has also.
"As far as varsity experience, we're pretty thin. We've got three guys back from the offensive end and four from the defensive end," Correll said. "As far as those guys, only one on each side is back in the same position. We are starting from scratch."
Senior Zach Terry figures to see plenty of time on the field as he'll be one of the primary receiving targets as well as being what Correll calls the "quarterback on defense" from his rover position.
On the defensive line, Portales suffered a blow when one would-be returnee, Isidro Duran, suffered an injury playing basketball over the summer and was lost for the season.
The offensive line is in better shape with returnee William Porter, fellow senior Garth Dotson and sophomore Ryan Schmidt.
“We’re young, but we’re gonna be OK,” Correll said. “We've got a bunch of sophomores up there and some good juniors. They’re not real tall, but they’re round and stocky — good football players.”
RAMS AT A GLANCE
Last year: 10-3; Class 3A state champions
Head coach: Andy Correll (4th year)
Date Opponent Time
Aug. 28 Robertson 7 p.m.
Sept. 4 Muleshoe 7 p.m.
Sept. 11 at Texico 7 p.m.
Sept. 18 Raton 7 p.m.
Sept. 25 at Goddard 7 p.m.
Oct. 10 at St. Michael’s 2 p.m.
Oct. 16 Roswell High 7 p.m.
Oct. 23 at Ruidoso-x 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 Lovington-x 7 p.m.
Nov. 6 at Abq. Academy-x 7 p.m.
x-Denotes District 4-3A games.