Quarterback battle friendly one

By Kevin Wilson
Staff writer
kwilson@cnjonline.com
Whatever happens with the quarterbacks, the line, the defense, the Portales Rams are steadfast in the belief they win and lose, succeed and fail, together.

“My goal is to show everybody this team’s a brotherhood,” senior Paul Conrow said Wednesday. “If we’re close off the field, we’re going to be close on the field.”

Case in point, the starting quarterback battle between Conrow and fellow senior Matt Martinez.

“Right now,” third-year Portales coach Jaime Ramirez said, “we’re trying to work on them being positive leaders. We want them to be competitive, but not in a way where they get personal.”

KEVIN WILSON: Staff photo Sophomore Shawn Miller looks for an opening on a run during Wednesday morning practice at Portales High School. Miller was one of many linemen who took handoffs while the defense practiced against the run.

KEVIN WILSON: Staff photo
Sophomore Shawn Miller looks for an opening on a run during Wednesday morning practice at Portales High School. Miller was one of many linemen who took handoffs while the defense practiced against the run.

Win or lose, they’ll be working together, Ramirez said, because whoever isn’t the quarterback will be penciled in at the No. 4 receiver slot.

The 5-foot-9, 150-pound Martinez has been getting more of the snaps this week, but that’s largely because Conrow has been nursing an injured left ankle since Friday. The 6-foot-1, 186-pound Conrow did some three-step drop work with the coaching staff, but spent most of the practice on the sidelines with his ankle keeping a bucket of ice water company. Conrow said the ankle was getting better and he expected to be back in pads by Friday.

Had injuries not interfered, the two would be taking first-team snaps on a 50-50 basis, with the eventual starter getting 75 percent of the first-team snaps.
Ramirez said the offense could be dictated somewhat by who’s behind center, with a option game for Martinez and a vertical passing game for Conrow.

“I think that Matt is a great runner,” Ramirez said. “We’ve put in some things for him. The main thing about Paul is that of the two, Paul has a stronger arm than Matt.”

Both quarterbacks are complimentary of the other’s skill set, with Conrow pointing out Martinez’ speed and ability to read a defense and Martinez noting Conrow “has a cannon” for an arm.

Both also know their biggest need for improvement is the other guy’s strength.

Kevin Wilson: Staff photo Portales assistant coach Chris Bachicha talks with junior Carlos Solis about defensive positioning during Wednesday’s Ram football practice. Portales hosts a four-team scrimmage next Friday and opens the season on the road Aug. 29 against Robertson.

Kevin Wilson: Staff photo
Portales assistant coach Chris Bachicha talks with junior Carlos Solis about defensive positioning during Wednesday’s Ram football practice. Portales hosts a four-team scrimmage next Friday and opens the season on the road Aug. 29 against Robertson.

“It’s just trying to get down all my reads,” Conrow said, while Martinez noted that, “I really need to work on my arm and get stronger.”

Both have experience, with Conrow playing some quarterback as a sophomore and Martinez filling in for injured starter Daniel Sanchez in Portales’ 2013 regular season finale, a comeback win over Lovington that helped secure a first-round home game.

“It gave me a lot of experience,” Martinez said, “seeing how it is live.”

There’s no particular timetable, though Ramirez will need a decision before Portales opens the season Aug. 29 at Robertson, and would like to have a decision before hosting a four-team scrimmage next week.

As far as the possibility of playing both at quarterback, Ramirez said, “You just never know.”