By Dave Wagner, Freedom New Mexico
Mark Ribaudo has no illusions about what his squad faces tonight.
Eastern New Mexico University’s football team, currently on a four-game losing streak, has the unenviable task of taking on rival and fourth-ranked West Texas A&M in a 6 p.m. Lone Star Conference South Divison clash.
“They’re No. 4 in the nation (in NCAA Division II), and there’s a reason why,” said Ribaudo, a one-time WT assistant. “They’re deserving of that ranking.”
The Buffaloes (6-0, 2-0 South) have mauled most of its opponents since a three-point win at Mesa State in the opener, and rank at or near the top of the LSC in most categories.
Ribaudo said the Greyhounds (1-5, 0-2), transitioning from a triple-option ground attack to a spread offense and going through the growing pains, have to just do what they can in the team’s annual “Wagon Wheel” clash.
“You have to focus on yourself and try to improve in the situation you’re in,” he said. “With a team like WT, that’s that explosive, you just have to take it one series at a time.”
ENMU freshman wide receiver Darian Dale, second on the team with 31 receptions, said he’s “really pumped and ready to play” for the first time in the rivalry.
He admits, though, the recent losing streak has been frustrating.
“But it does make you want to work harder, especially when you have a big game like this,” said Dale, who is from Bay City, Texas.
In his four seasons at the helm, former ENMU coach Don Carthel has turned the Buffs from one of the weaker teams in the LSC to ostensibly the top program.
“We’ve got to come out and play well,” said Carthel, also a former ENMU football player and a 1974 grad. “Strange things happen in