By Dave Wagner
CMI sports writer
It’s been far from the best season for the tradition-laden Lovington Wildcats, who are an un-Lovington-like 1-7 as they enter District 4-3A play tonight against Portales High at Blackwater Draw.
Some of that is deceptive because of the rugged schedule the Wildcats take on. Still, they usually have a far better record at this point in the season.
Portales (5-4, 0-1 district) can’t worry about that, though. The Rams are coming in on their own three-game losing streak, including their district opener last week at Ruidoso.
“They’re still a tough team,” Rams coach Jaime Ramirez said of the Wildcats. “In my opinion, they’re a lot like Roswell High and Hope Christian (both of whom have recently defeated the Rams).”
Wildcats coach Jaime Quinones said his team just hasn’t played up to snuff.
“We’re struggling,” he said. “I’m not making excuses. We’ve played some tough teams, but we just haven’t played well enough to win.
“It’s been tough. We’ve lost a number of players to injury, but the kids are hanging in there.”
Lovington is coming off a 38-27 loss at home to Hope Christian, a team which beat PHS 42-32 in Albuquerque. Among their top players, Quinones said, are senior quarterback Zach Molinar and junior defensive end Kaiden Ochoa.
“We’re not taking this team lightly, by any means,” Ramirez said. “We’re trying to correct a lot of mistakes we’ve made the last three weeks.”
Portales, playing its final regular-game, appears likely to make the Class 3A playoffs, but probably needs a win to secure a top-eight seed and a first-round home game after next week’s bye.
Ramirez thinks the Wildcats will make it as well, despite their record. Quinones isn’t as sure.
“We definitely have to win one or both of these games to have a shot,” he said, referring to next week’s district and regular-season finale at home against Ruidoso.
Lovington (1-7, 0-0) at Portales (5-4, 0-1)
• When: 7 p.m. today in a District 4-3A game at Blackwater Draw
• Last week: Portales dropped its district opener at Ruidoso 42-27. Meantime, the Wildcats lost at home to Hope Christian 38-27.
• Last year: The Rams and Wildcats were locked in a scoreless tie late in the third quarter before a long punt return sent Lovington on its way to a 21-0 victory at home.