By Dave Wagner
On paper, the Portales Rams appear to be going in the right direction heading into Saturday’s 5 p.m. matchup against Hope Christian at Milne Stadium in Albuquerque.
The Rams (5-1) bounced back from their first loss of the season two weeks ago at Dexter with a 26-14 win over Pojoaque last week at Greyhound Stadium.
Meantime, the Huskies are 2-4 and, prior to last week’s 50-6 win over the Rio Rancho junior varsity, had lost four in a row by a combined 135 points.
“We’ve tried to downplay that,” Rams coach Jaime Ramirez said. “We just need to be focused and start to play our best football.”
Ramirez said the impact of playing on a Saturday is minimal.
“It affects our routine a little bit, but we’re just treating it like it’s a playoff game,” Ramirez said. “We’ll have to travel well and be mentally focused.”
Huskies coach Diego Brusuelas, meantime, said he thinks the teams match up pretty well. Most of Hope’s losses have been to highly-regarded teams.
He said quarterbacks Daniel Sanchez of Portales and Caleb Meyer-Hagen of Hope are both capable passers. Meyer-Hagen, he said, has thrown for about 1,400 yards this season.
“There should be points on the board,” Brusuelas said. “The ball will be in the air, so I think it’ll be a fun game for fans.”
Meyer-Hagen also plays outside linebacker for the Huskies. Another top player is senior wide receiver-cornerback Luke Dye.
Brusuelas, an assistant at Hope last season, has a squad made up mainly of juniors and seniors.
“We’re a young team, but we keep learning,” he said. “We have good skill players. If we can hold our own front, I think we’ll do pretty well.”
He said last week’s rout of the Rio Rancho JV should give the team a boost.
“It helped their confidence a little bit,” he said of his squad. “We had lost four in a row, so we really needed a win.”
Portales entertains Roswell High next week before facing Ruidoso and Lovington in District 4-3A contests to end the regular season.
Portales (5-1) at Hope Christian (2-4)
• When: 5 p.m. today at Milne Stadium, Albuquerque
•Radio: KSEL-AM 1450
• Last week: The Rams beat Pojoaque 26-14 at Greyhound Stadium. The Huskies posted a 50-6 win over the Rio Rancho junior varsity at Rio Rancho.
• Last year: Portales edged the Huskies 19-13 at Greyhound Stadium.
— Compiled by