By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
When Portales High takes on the Roswell High Coyotes in a 7 p.m. kickoff today at Greyhound Stadium, both teams will be looking for momentum heading into district play next week.
The Rams are coming off a disappointing 42-32 loss to Hope Christian last week in Albuquerque, while the Coyotes slipped past Moriarty 24-21 at home heading into this matchup of 5-2 teams.
Roswell High dominated last year’s meeting 48-0 at home.
“This year, they’re an even better team than what they were last year,” Rams coach Jaime Ramirez said, noting the Coyotes like to two-platoon. “They’re playing some good football right now.”
The Rams’ second loss of the season last week was the first time their defense has been torched. A 46-13 loss at Dexter last month was largely the result of eight turnovers.
It wasn’t long ago the Coyotes were a dormat in Class 4A, but they’ve been coming along of late.
“We’ve got good kids, and they’re doing a good job,” said coach Jeff Lynn, older brother of Eastern New Mexico University football coach Josh Lynn. “We’re kind of in the same mode as coach Ramirez is — we’re trying to change the culture.”
Lynn called junior running back J.J. Fierro “a catalyst” on offense, and said junior Johnnie Chavez gives the Coyotes “a quality receiver.”
Leaders on defense include senior inside linebacker Deryk Colby and senior outside linebacker Josiah Earwood, the team’s leading tacklers.
“We need to be physical and keep the (Rams’) offense off the field,” Lynn said. “Defensively, we’ve got to get pressure on (Rams senior QB Daniel Sanchez).”
Hope rode the passing combination of senior wide receiver Luke Dye and sophomore quarterback Caleb Meyer-Hagen, who combined for four touchdown passes, including two in the final five minutes following Rams turnovers that decided the outcome.
“Last week was a disappointment,” Ramirez said. “We didn’t look good at all.
“We’re not used to giving up that many points, that’s for sure. Our defense has played pretty solid this year.”
The Rams visit Ruidoso in their District 4-3A opener next week, then host Lovington the following Friday in their regular-season finale.
Roswell High (5-2) at Portales (5-2)
• When: 7 p.m. today at Greyhound Stadium
• Last week: The Coyotes outlasted Moriarty 24-21 at the Wool Bowl in Roswell
• Last year: The Coyotes beat the Rams 48-0 at Roswell.