By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
It’s true, the Rams have won just one game out of their first seven, but their goal from Day 1 has been to repeat as District 4-3A champions, and that mission begins this evening as the Rams three-game district schedule begins tonight at Roswell’s New Mexico Military Institute (7 p.m.)
“We’ve got a three-week schedule to win a district championship,” Portales head coach Andy Correll said. “And that’s been our focus and our goal all season, and it starts with this game.”
With a district championship on the line in the next three weeks, the Ram coaching staff has gotten it across to their players, they can’t afford to look past NMMI to Ruidoso or Lovington.
“We’re preaching the fact that we have to treat this as our district opener and everybody is 0-0,” Portales assistant coach and defensive coordinator Mark McAfee said. “Previous records don’t mean squat right now.”
Correll talked about NMMI’s out-of-the-norm offense, that the Rams have to stop.
“They are a little unorthodox on offense,” Correll said. “They run a double-wing where they run a lot out of the option.”
“We’ve got to stop the of what they do,” McAfee said. “We’ve got to stop, what we call the pop, where they run the motion behind the quarterback and snap it real quick to get it to the guy running real fast — kind of like a sweep.”
While the formation may be odd, McAfee said the Colts running game is a much more straight-forward attack than previous teams the Rams have played.
“It’s not like Tucumcari where the backs just go all different kind of ways,” McAfee said. “It’s a little bit more predictable, but it’s more a kind of smash mouth effect.”
NMMI (0-6) fell last week at Tucumcari 47-14 — the latest in a winless season for the Colts, while the Rams (1-6) claimed their first win of the season two weeks ago in Tucumcari.
The Colts offense only produced a total of six points in their first four games combined, but in their last two contests, they’ve scored a total of 26.
“They move the ball pretty well,” McAfee said. “It’s the kind of offense where they have to be real patient and when they make mistakes it kind of hurts them. But they put some points on the board on people, they just give up some also, but they’re pretty effective at what they do.”
Junior outside linebacker Rick Bergman will sit out tonight’s game with a shoulder injury and quarterback Chris Mosier sustained a minor ankle injury at practice earlier this week, but Correll doesn’t expect the senior signal caller to miss any snaps.
“We’re doing a little bit better about moving up and down the line of scrimmage,” McAfee said. “We made a couple of personnel changes to hopefully help us a little bit along the edge, and we’re excited and ready to go.”
While McAfee wouldn’t reveal the specifics of their changes on defense, he did say they aren’t major shifts.
“Just subtle (changes) McAfee said. “Instead of a kid playing inside (linebacker) we’re going to move him to the outside,” McAfee said.
Ruidoso travels to Lovington tonight in the other District 4-3A game.
“I think we’re ready to play guys in our classification a little bit and (we’ll) maybe even the playing field a little bit,” McAfee said.