By Mickey Winfield: PNT staff writer
The Portales Rams have plenty of reasons to smile heading into tonight’s first-round playoff game against the Cobre Indians at Greyhound Stadium (7 p.m.) The Rams are still riding high after taking the District 4-3A championship last week, they are happy to have leading rusher Eric Segovia back, and they are ready for the state playoffs.
“We’re still very proud of our district championship,” Rams head coach Andy Correll said. “This is the playoffs, to us, we look at it like everybody is zero and zero and lets just see what happens, we’re ready to play.”
Portales (4-5) comes into the first-round playoff game as the seven seed in Class 3A, Cobre (3-6) is the 10 seed.
Correll said it’s very important to be able to host the first-round playoff game.
“I think it’s pretty neat,” Correll said. “I think it’s neat for our fans, our community, and also for the kids. Like I said, we’re approaching this as just another ball game at our place. So, I really think we’ll have a pretty good turn out, and we’ll go play anywhere, anyone, but it’s been pretty nice being able to sleep in our own beds.”
Portales leading rusher Eric Segovia has also been cleared to play tonight. Segovia dislocated his shoulder in the second quarter of the Rams district opening victory against Ruidoso, Oct. 21.
In addition to having Segovia back from injury, the Rams are confident in a formation that has worked well all year long against all of the defenses they’ve played.
“Nobody has yet stopped what we call our ‘tag series’, where we pull our guard and tackle,” Correll said. “We can hit different holes with it, and nobody has stopped it yet. So, no matter what (Cobre) does up front we’ll always be able to get that play off, so that’s pretty comforting to the kids.”
Correll also said that when the Rams are on defense, they’ll need to be ready for anything, because Cobre has such a versatile offense.
“They do a lot of different things offensively,” Correll said. “They get in a lot of different sets, so we’ve really had to make sure our adjustments defensively are pretty sound. We really didn’t add anything different, other than having to adjust to what they do.”
The Rams won the district championship last Friday with a win at home against NMMI, combined with a Ruidoso defeat of Lovington. The three teams were tied with a district record of 2-1, and Portales won a points tie-breaker. The NMAA gave Portales the seven seed, making the Rams the only district champion in the state not awarded a bye week in the first round of the state playoffs.