Cats take on Goddard in opener

By Kevin Wilson
Staff writer
kwilson@cnjonline.com
CLOVIS — The weekly scouting report handed to Clovis players this week is a mostly blank cover, with only three statements:

• The team hashtag #PFF, short for, “Pride, Family, Football.”

• The team hashtag #WRTS, short for, “We Run This State.”

• The team’s adaptation of the oft-repeated Mike Tyson quote, “Everybody’s got a plan till they get hit in the mouth.”

Few teams are more appropriate than the Goddard Rockets for the easier said than done mantra. In an era of spread, Goddard still runs power football, and it’s a lot easier to discount than it is to stop.

“We’ve been playing Goddard for years, and every year I can remember we have played Goddard,” Clovis coach Eric Roanhaus said, “our kids have gone up against Goddard at every level, and they know it’s a good football program. We’ll have to bring our ‘A’ game. Iit’s that simple.”

The Rockets, who had won three straight before Clovis’ 31-28 victory last season, represent one of the more difficult openers since Clovis stopped playing Las Cruces Mayfield in its opener a few years back. Not quite the opening matchup as a Cherry Creek, Colorado, team that blasted Clovis last year and sent more than half a dozen players to Division I schools, but tough enough.

“It was a pretty tough game last year,” Clovis center Agustin “Ago” Jimenez said. “They have a tough defense, and a good offense.

“I just remember it was a dogfight.”

The Rockets made a significant change over the offseason, when Sam Jernigan opted for an assistant coaching position in South Garland, Texas, over a 25th season leading the Rockets. The team is now led by former defensive coordinator Mike Whelan.

Clovis expects some changes under Whelan, who could not be reached for comment for this story, but nothing wholesale.

“Coach Whelan was with coach Jernigan for 20 years; they’re going to do the same things,” Roanhaus said. “We’re going to have to be able to stop the run; that’s the key thing.”

Having the game played Saturday evening at the Wool Bowl — Roswell High had a game in the shared stadium on Friday — won’t affect much about the game, Roanhaus said, but will give Clovis less time to prepare for Cibola next week.

As for the counter that Clovis does get an extra day to prepare this week? “We’ve been getting ready for Goddard since Aug. 4, so we didn’t really need an extra day.”

GAMEDAY
Clovis at Goddard
7 p.m. today at the Wool Bowl, Roswell
• On the air: KCLV-AM 1240 KCLV-FM 99.1; KTQM-FM 99.9, streaming online at kclvsports.com at ktqmclovis.com.
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 37th season, 322-128-5. Goddard, Mike Whelan, first season.
Last season: The Wildcats finished 6-6 for the third consecutive year, and were ousted by top-seeded Valley in the Class 5A quarterfinals. Goddard lost to Farmington 7-0 in the Class 4A title game. It was the sixth title game appearance for the Rockets in seven seasons, with three titles.
• Last meeting: 2013, 31-28 Clovis. The Wildcats lead the overall series 20-9.
Goddard players to watch: Cameron Neff, QB, Sr.; Dean McDaniel, Sr., FB/LB; Adam Gomez, Sr., RB/CB.
• Notes: Roanhaus wouldn’t disclose starters lost to injury during the week, but noted Clovis may have to start a pair of sophomores in the secondary. Clovis did, however, receive news that senior Kaine Bender could be cleared to begin rehabilitation within a month. The team assumed Bender’s torn ACL would knock him out for the season.

— Compiled by  Kevin Wilson