Clovis junior safety Cerron Bailey stops Hobbs wide receiver Daniel Mendoza after a short gain. The Wildcats forced four turnovers and came up big in the red zone in Friday's 28-7 win at Hobbs.
For Mars Blackmon, it was the shoes.
For Jaden Isler, it’s the shirt.
Isler worn a long-sleeved white undershirt – untucked — like Dallas Cowboys safety Roy Williams, and delivered a pair of teeth-rattling hits Friday that would have made his favorite player proud.
Known for his cover ability — he’s already set the school record for interceptions in a season with eight — the senior cornerback stuffed squatty Hobbs running back DeQuawn Robinson near the goal line to prevent a late score in the Wildcats’ 28-7 road win.
“I told Diondre (Hunter) Williams wears the white undershirt no matter how hot it is and he gets big hits all the time,” Isler said. “I figured I’d do it and see what happens.”
The other QB: Of course, Jordan Mendoza said, he would like to throw the ball more.
Yes it’s hard to watch the likes of Artesia’s Landry Jones, Cibola’s Jonathan Mader and, last week, Hobbs’ Alberto Caballero get the accolades.
However, the Wildcats (6-3) are one of the few teams that haven’t drank the spread offense Kool-Aid. In an offensive system that values ball control above all else, the Wildcats run to win and pass not to lose.
“It’s kind of frustrating not being able to throw the ball a lot,” said Mendoza, who completed 4-of-8 passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns Friday against Hobbs. “When I get the opportunity to throw the ball, I have to make the most of it.”
Mendoza, whose numbers are hurt by several dropped passes, has completed 54-of-100 passes for 749 yards and eight touchdowns this season. His passing was instrumental in comeback wins against Cibola and Artesia.
“I don’t mind,” Mendoza said of the Wildcats’ run-oriented approach. “I’ll keep blocking for Manuel (Robles) and Derrick (Phillips) if it helps us win. I’ll do whatever coach asks me to do.”
MIA: The big play has been missing from the Wildcats offense most of the season.
Of the Wildcats’ five scoring plays more than 50 yards this season, only two have been on offense, including Robles’ 53-yard run Friday.
Clovis’ other 50-plus-yard scoring plays came on interceptions and a punt return.
Notable: The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead despite not having a first down.
Power rankings: Ranking the teams Clovis has faced this season:
1. Mayfield — Only team to dominate the Wildcats. Matt Sandoval is the Doug Flutie of New Mexico high football.
2. Cibola — Big, fast and physical. Cougars gave up on pass early.
3. Artesia — Bulldogs do what they do better than anybody. QB Landry Jones is for real.
4. La Cueva — Bears manhandled Cats up front.
5. Hobbs— Eagles’ offense can move the ball on anybody. Defense remains suspect.
6. Eldorado — Impressive size. Good thing Cats played them early.
7. Goddard — Class 4A Rockets have playmakers on both sides of ball. Lacked overall quality of bigger schools.
8. Rio Rancho — Mashed potato soft.
9. Palo Duro — Cats’ physical play took Dons out of game early.
Up next: Regular-season finale against Carlsbad (3-6). A win earns the Wildcats the district title.