By Dave Wagner
The Portales High football team is looking for the same 2-0 start it had last year, only this time the Rams don’t plan to give it back.
PHS, which opened its season on Saturday with a 29-21 win at West Las Vegas, entertains Tularosa in a 7 p.m. kickoff on Friday at Greyhound Stadium.
Portales defeated both teams to start last season, but later had to forfeit the games because of the use of an ineligible player and went on to finish 3-7.
Rams coach Glenn Johnson said that while his team missed some scoring opportunities against West Las Vegas, especially early, he also saw some positives. Trailing 7-6 early in the fourth quarter, Portales won a shootout from the Dons featuring five touchdowns in the final nine minutes.
“That’s been a good opener for us for a few years,” Johnson said. “It was big for us to come away with a win, with as many underclassmen as we’re playing.
“What I wanted to see was how our team would react to different situations, and their reaction was good. We focused on what we had to do.”
Meantime, the Wildcats lost their opener to Hot Springs 35-12. Second-year coach David Lynn said his team is rebuilding a bit after going 6-4 and reaching the Class 2A playoffs last season.
“We’re starting about five kids who have never played varsity before,” said Lynn, whose son Josh is a former tight end and assistant football coach at Eastern New Mexico University. “Usually in that first game, if you’re not a veteran team, you can have problems.
“We’re just using that game as a learning experience.”
Lynn scouted the Rams last week and said he was impressed with their overall size.
“They’re big, a lot bigger than we are,” he said. “And they’ve got two or three pretty good athletes. I just hope we can go over there and play with them.”
The man the Wildcats will try to key on is PHS senior Chris Carter, who scored on a 1-yard pass from Tyler Rutherford and returned a kickoff 90 yards for a fourth-quarter TD.
“I really think if you’re going to beat Portales, you have to do something with No. 32,” Lynn said of Carter. “He carries a big load for them.”
To that end, Johnson said it’s important for the Rams to spread the ball around on offense.
“We let (West Las Vegas) hang in the ballgame too long,” he said. “Early in (that) ballgame, we wanted to spread the ball around. We’re going to take advantage of what the defense gives us.”
Johnson said the Rams came out of last week’s games with no significant injuries.