By Dave Wagner
Portales High football coach Glenn Johnson knows the Rams lost many key players from last season.
One thing he’s not going to do, though, is call the 2004 campaign a rebuilding year.
“We try not to look at it as rebuilding because we’ve had a lot of young men who’ve been in the program since they were in seventh grade,” said Johnson, who begins his seventh season at PHS with two-a-days on Monday. “It’s just a matter of how well and how quickly our young men adjust to high school play.”
The Rams’ varsity and junior varsity players will practice from 8-10 a.m. and from 5-7 p.m. next week, Johnson said.
Portales went 3-7 last fall, although two of the losses were games the Rams actually won but had to forfeit due to the use of an ineligible player.
Seventeen seniors, most of whom were significant contributors, were lost from last year’s squad. That means the returning regulars will be asked to carry a healthy load.
“My role’s going to be more as one of a leader this year,” senior running back-outside linebacker Chris Carter said. “But we’ll need to have (other) leaders on this team because of the seniors we lost.”
The Rams have a challenging pre-district slate which, Johnson hopes, prepares them for District 3-4A competition. Portales faces three Class 4A schools — Roswell High, Roswell Goddard and Artesia — and a tough 3A opponent from Texas in Denver City.
“Being in the best 3A district in the state, come October, we’ve got to be ready to play,” Johnson said. “Denver City has made us a better program because of the caliber of football they play. Any time you travel across the state line, you’d better be ready.”
Senior Tyler Rutherford, who played running back and defensive back in 2003, will replace the graduated Seth Clabaugh at quarterback for the Rams.
“We lost a lot of our (offensive) line that protected Seth,” Rutherford said. “Now we have to have younger guys step up to protect me.
“I’m really looking forward to getting a lot of playing time at quarterback. Hopefully, I can lead us to a lot of ‘Ws’ this year.”
The Rams open the season with a 1:30 p.m. road game on Aug. 28 against West Las Vegas.
“It’s going to be a tough schedule, but I think it’s going to be fun,” Carter said. “It’s a challenge, and I think a lot of people want to step up to that challenge. We’re going to have to have a lot of people step up this year.”
Volleyball — The defending 3A state champion Lady Rams begin two-a-days on Monday, doing conditioning on the hills near Greyhound Arena from 7-8:30 a.m. and then practicing inside the area from 9 a.m. to noon this week while the floor at PHS is being redone.
Portales has been in the state finals in four consecutive seasons, winning it each time except in 2002. Fourth-year coach Ruth Chavez said two-a-days will continue up to the start of school on Aug. 20.
“I’m really excited,” Chavez said of the upcoming season. “We’ve had a good summer; we’re going to be a young team, but we have a lot of good young kids coming up.”
Portales, 14-10 a year ago, will build around three juniors — outside hitters Morgan Hill and Megan Kabrick and setter Ashleigh Richards. Kabrick is coming back from a knee injury suffered last December during the early part of the basketball season.
The Lady Rams open their campaign on the final weekend of August in the Clovis Invitational.