By Kevin Wilson
Other than a victory, there weren’t a lot of things the Portales Rams would like to replicate from Friday’s opener against West Las Vegas.
But if there is one thing the Rams would like to keep the same from Friday’s 19-7 win, it would be the defense. Under a rain that helped to slow the Portales offense, the Ram defense made sure the visiting Dons never threatened by forcing six turnovers.
Going into tonight’s 7 p.m. game at Tularosa, the defense is still learning. Only lineman Dustin Bare is playing in the same position as the 2002 season, and players like Jordan Harrison are learning to adjust in new spots.
“It was a little confusing at first — it’s still a little confusing,” said Harrison, a 6-foot-3, 210-pound senior who moved from defensive end to middle linebacker. “There are a lot more reads.”
Harrison thought the Rams showed a good effort on defense, but said they made several mistakes in the way of missed tackles and incorrect reads — normal mistakes with everybody learning new positions.
“There were a lot of new players that hadn’t played varsity at all (last season),” Harrison said. “The defensive line did a very good job, though.”
The Rams will likely need the same type of defensive effort against Tularosa, as the offense will be shorthanded. Ram coach Glen Johnson said junior running back Chris Carter would miss tonight’s game with a deep thigh bruise.
With or without Carter in the lineup, Johnson expects a tough matchup from Tularosa, which he believes is better than its 33-6 loss to Hot Springs last week would indicate.
“I think the score was misleading,” Johnson said. “They gave Hot Springs the ball on a short field (with turnovers), but as far as executing up and down the field and being physical, Tularosa did a good job with that.”
The Class 2A Wildcats came to Greyhound Stadium last season and nearly stole a win. Eventually, the Rams wore down Tularosa and won 14-8 in overtime. Portales is looking to avoid a similar situation.
“They looked like they moved the ball well, but they had a lot of turnovers, “Harrison said. “If we take them lightly, they’ll surprise us.”
The Wildcats are coached by Dave Lynn, who replaced Bruce Dollar. Lynn could not be reached Thursday night for comment.