By Eric Butler
When Bovina takes the field Friday night against Texico, Wolverines coach Mike Prokop will see a familiar face across the field.
From the time he was a quarterback at Clovis High in the mid-1970s — when Prokop was a Wildcats offensive lineman — through 16 years of serving as an assistant coach, Kent Torbert has been a frequent participant to gridiron events.
Now, though, Torbert will get his chance at head coaching for the first time.
After Bruce Scroggins quit the Bovina job at the end of the 2002 football season, Torbert was called upon to be the Mustangs’ coach. Up until now, Torbert has served as an assistant at Bovina, Perryton (Texas) and Eastern New Mexico University — as well as being a school administrator.
The first task for Torbert this season was to see that the Mustangs began their schedule with a complete roster. That’s something Bovina was not blessed with a year ago when running back Jonathan Chisom, among others, sat out half the season for disciplinary reasons.
“I got into some trouble last year,” said Chisom, who will be joined on the squad by cousin Raymond Chisom, a wide receiver. “I’m looking forward to the season. I think we’ve got a pretty good chance.”
“They’re doing real good. We’ve had the weight room open all summer and the kids have been up here a bunch,” Torbert said. “We’ve kind of given them a place to go and that’s helped out a lot. We’ve been around them every day — and that helps too.
“We’re going to have to stay healthy. We’ve got about 60 players (from ninth through 12th grade). They’re all young though. If we get a senior hurt, we’re going to be playing with a youngster.”
The Mustangs have some experience returning from a squad that finished 4-6 last year. Five starters on each side of the line will be back for the 2003 campaign as Bovina hopes to improve on a 1-4 district record.
Junior Jeff Casas, who returns at quarterback, thinks the experience of his sophomore year should help.
“I played most of last year, but I feel more comfortable this year,” Casas said. “Our goal is to win every game — we want to win every game.”
Torbert’s goal, at least to start with, is to win his first contest as a head coach.
“I’m excited. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. Sometimes you have to rely on your assistant coaches, though, and we’re real fortunate that we’ve got a quality group over here,” Torbert said. “I definitely have an opinion on how I would do it. Sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s not.”
Certainly, after years of walking the sidelines, Torbert has a good idea of some of the intricacies of coaching.
Asked Tuesday about the Bovina-Texico contest and meeting up with his former teammate Prokop as a head coach, Torbert said, “We’ve been on the phone with each other all week — just telling each other a bunch of lies.”