By Kevin Wilson
With a road game coming up tonight against a Class 4A team, the Portales Rams already have the deck stacked against them.
To keep a realistic chance to beat Goddard (7 p.m., 1450 KSEL-AM), the Rams realize they’ll have to keep the ball as well.
Ram coach Glen Johnson has said throughout the season that the Rams can’t afford to turn the ball over against good football teams, and it’s not nitpicking to say the Rams need to keep turnovers under their season average of five.
“We don’t want to harp on it,” Johnson said, “but it’s pretty obvious that to get where we want to be, we’ve got to keep turnovers to a minimum.”
Johnson said the first drive and the last drive against Denver City last Friday, both touchdown drives, were some of the best drives he’s ever seen in his six years with Portales. Sandwiched in between those drives, however, was inconsistency and five turnovers in a 26-21 loss.
“We have done well moving the ball up the field,” Johnson said, but we haven’t put up as many points as we would have liked to (because of turnovers).”
Goddard is 2-2, as the Rockets are coming off of a 30-28 win over Class 5A Hobbs. The Rockets are ranked ninth in the Associated Press Class 4A poll, while Portales remains at No. 2 in the Class 3A poll.
Despite the graduation of running back Justin Burke, the Rockets figure to have a strong running attack again this year. Burke rushed for 158 yards and three touchdowns against Portales in last season’s 49-14 win at Greyhound Stadium, and the Rams don’t want anybody to duplicate that type of effort.
Senior cornerback Russell Knudson figures the Rams should expect tough games like this for the rest of the season, with Artesia and District 4-3A waiting over the next two months.
“Every since Denver City, we’ve been practicing even harder because our competition improves a lot in the upcoming weeks,” Knudson said, “I think it’s just strengthened us.”
As far as the defense is concerned, Johnson likes the way things have been going. Despite being put in tough situations all year, Johnson feels the defense has done enough to give the offense a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter each Friday.
“The defense has played well all year and as far as turnovers, they’ve helped keep us in the positive category,” Johnson said. “When you have a defense that is doing that, you have a chance to win games even when you have a few turnovers.”