The Portales Rams will definitely be a team in transition, but their new coach says the players are handling it well so far.
Two days into the first week of practices for New Mexico high school football teams, Portales coach Jaime Ramirez said about 65 players from grades 9-12 have come out for morning practices.
"They've gone really good," Ramirez said. "We're progressing, learning our system. We've got a decent turnout."
Ramirez isn't sure what kind of team he'll have for Portales' scrimmage, set for 5 p.m. Aug. 24 against Clovis' JV and Eunice at its practice field.
The reason for that is two-fold. The first is a young roster — where senior Osbaldo Navarette, who started at linebacker last season, is the only returning starter on offense or defense.
The second reason is that Ramirez said pads change the game. Two-a-day practices with pads start Thursday morning.
"Before you put on the pads, you don't know what type of player you have," Ramirez said. "When it's 7-on-7, it's easy to catch the pass knowing you won't get hit. When you put on the pads and you start playing, it tells you what type of team you have."
So far, Ramirez said, the players have adjusted well to what have mostly been changes in terminology. The Rams started last season using mostly the I formation, but went to the spread later on during their 4-6 campaign; Ramirez said the Rams will run most of their offense out of the spread.
Heat in the mid-day has been in the high 90s, but Ramirez said weather's been more cooperative in the mornings.
"It was nice and cloudy for most of the morning," Ramirez said. "We started at 6:30 and ended up at 10:45 in the weight room. Heat hasn't been a factor for us."