There’s a condition known as guarded optimism, where things look good but there are plenty of concerns.
The mood in the Clovis Wildcats’ locker room, however, is probably better described as guarded pessimism. Things have been bad, but there’s no reason things couldn’t improve for the Wildcats following a two-game skid.
“We need some good to happen,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “We haven’t had a lot of breaks lately. But at the same time, you’ve got to create some of those breaks.”
Since winning a trio of nailbiters to open the season, Clovis (3-2) has been on the other side of a 49-0 loss to La Cueva it was in for only the first quarter, and a 21-17 defeat at Rio Rancho where the Wildcats essentially had two scoring opportunities on offense.
“We should have won that game,” said senior Emery Sierra, who had eight tackles and a 51-yard interception return for a score against Rio Rancho. “We just didn’t do enough to win it.”
There aren’t many places for Clovis to get an easy win, with games against Artesia and Eldorado on the pre-district schedule. But a win against defending 4A champion Goddard Friday night is no cakewalk.
Whether it’s running back Greg Ramirez leading a 200-yard rushing attack in a 35-28 win over Rio Rancho, or quarterback David Vega throwing for big yards in last week’s 46-7 win over Portales, the Rockets have balance.
“With Vega in the game, they’re going to spread you out and throw,” Kelley said. “Their receivers have done a really good job of breaking routes off and getting to their spots.”
Rio Rancho is the only common opponent for each team so far this season. First-year Rams coach David Howe said the Rockets were solid, even without Vega.
“I think we were able to move the ball on them,” Howes said. “But they play some pretty sound defense. They run the ball very, very effectively.”
For Clovis, there’s been a problem finishing drives. The Wildcats have scored just one offensive touchdown in their last 11 quarters.
“We haven’t come together,” Sierra siad. “Everybody’s not working on the same page yet, and we’re not playing as a team.”
But in film sessions, the struggles have been team-wide. Kelley said it’s hard to single out anybody for the struggles.
“It’s always one person,” Kelley said. “It’s not ever the same person, but it’s one person.”
A three-game skid wouldn’t kill Clovis, as Kelley said the Wildcats have made state championship games in the past despite such skids. But optimism means nothing without action.
“Is 8-2 out of the question? No,” Kelley said. “(But) if we don’t get smarter, 8-2 is definitely out of the question.”
Goddard (3-2) at Clovis (3-2)
7 p.m. today
Leon Williams Stadium
Radio: KCLV 1240 AM, 99.1 FM; KTQM 99.9 FM; KWKA 680 AM; KICA 98.3 FM.
Coaches: Goddard, Sam Jernigan, 20th season. Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 32nd season, 293-102-5.
Last week: Clovis dropped a 21-17 decision at Rio Rancho. The Rockets blasted Portales 46-7.
Last meeting: 2008, Clovis took a 21-0 and cruised to a 35-14 win at the Wool Bowl in Roswell. Clovis has won seven of the last eight meetings.
Goddard players to watch: Sr. QB David Vega, Sr. FB Greg Ramirez, CB Tim Anaya.
Notes: Junior RB Quran Wiggins, despite missing a glut of second-half time with injuries, has reached 100 yards rushing in each of the Wildcats’ first five games and has 690 rushing yards total to lead Clovis. … The Wildcats’ receiving trio of junior Darien Borders (79 yards) and seniors Blake Wiley (78) and Michael Johnson (76) have had equal contributions, but Clovis has yet to post a passing touchdown. … Senior LB Emery Sierra leads Clovis with 46 tackles. … Senior PK Andrew North is 9-of-10 on extra point attempts and 1-of-2 on field goals.