Hounds know little about Highlands

By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico

Neither Eastern New Mexico University’s Mark Ribaudo nor New Mexico Highlands’ Eric Young wants to give away a whole lot entering Saturday’s 7 p.m. season opener at Greyhound Stadium.

Young, in his first season at Highlands, has pretty much cleaned house with the Cowboys, who were 1-10 last fall. He has an entirely new coaching staff and only a handful of players back from last season.

“We made a lot of changes to the roster and to our offensive and defensive schemes,” said Young, who came to the Las Vegas, N.M., school from College of the Siskiyous, a junior college in northern California.

“We expect things to be much-improved. We know Highlands hasn’t been especially strong the last few years, but we’re looking to change that.”

How? Young isn’t saying.

“We’re trying to remain a mystery as long as we can,” he said.

Meantime, Ribaudo said the Hounds will be without two “key” performers on their “Air Raid” offense due to injuries in practice this week, but he declined to name names.

“We’ve got a couple of key players who aren’t going to play tomorrow,” Ribaudo said Friday. “That’s not going to help.”

Young acknowledged he probably has a better idea than Ribaudo of what to expect from the opponent.

“I know a little bit about what they do,” he said. “But being our first game as a staff, we’re focused more on our execution.”

He said only about three players on each side of the ball return from last season, but Highlands has some good ones in junior wide receiver-kick returner Kevon Williams, a first-team All-Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference selection, and seniors Tony Udley at safety and Cordelle Nugent at end, the Cowboys’ top two tacklers in 2010.

“I don’t know much about them,” Ribaudo said of the Cowboys. “I think they run a spread offense, and that’s about all I know.”

He said the Hounds are anxious to get going.

“We’re ready to play,” Ribaudo said. “I think we’re a pretty solid football team.

“We’ll see Saturday night.”