By Kevin Wilson: PNT Staff Writer
If there has been a closer district battle for Portales over the last four years than New Mexico Military Institute, one would be hard-pressed to find it. The Colts and Rams have alternated as winners each of the last four years, and the road team has won the last two games.
The Colts and Rams are similar teams with the rushing offense and in similar situations with 0-1 records in District 4-3A. After tonight’s game in Roswell, the two will be in much different scenarios — the winner regains life in the district race, while the loser would need some help to earn a playoff spot.
“We’re a lot alike,” NMMI coach Dwight Burns said. “It could be a situation of turnovers and penalties (determining the game).”
Friday’s other 4-3A contest features Lovington hosting Ruidoso. Lovington defeated Portales 48-16 while Ruidoso claimed a 14-0 victory against NMMI.
Portales coach Glenn Johnson felt his team’s execution was off in its loss, while Burns felt his team just didn’t make one or two plays against the Ruidoso defense when it counted.
“They bent a lot on defense, but they didn’t break,” Burns said. “We had the ball in the red zone about eight times, but didn’t get any points. That’s a tribute to their defense.”
So while the NMMI offense didn’t get any points, it gave the Rams plenty to study in the way of game film. Johnson said the Colts were a team that would keep things simple and capitalize on an opponent’s mistakes.
“They’re going to line up and run the ball well,” Johnson said. “They’re a very aggressive football team. They’re going to show you some veer and some option and some play-action. We’ve got to line up and play good, sound fundamental defense.”
Another key, Johnson said, is time of possession. He figures NMMI’s biggest game plan will be to keep the ball out of Portales’ hands on offense as much as possible. That’s what the Colts did last year by rushing for 542 yards in a 54-27 win at Greyhound Stadium.
Burns called Portales’ offense “prolific” and figured the Colts will need to score consistently to have a chance for a win.
“The problem they present with their offense is the run and the pass,” Burns said. “They run the option, they get in the shotgun and spread you out. You have to spend a lot of time preparing for them.”
Junior Eric Segovia is out the rest of the season with a pair of ligament tears. Johnson said that Ricky Lovato will play fullback and junior Cruz Ontiveros would start at the tailback position.