Wildcats making the grade

Rick White

With the season past the halfway point, it’s time to pass out midseason report cards for the Clovis Wildcats football team.
Grades are based on records, effort and expectations.

OFFENSE
Juniors John Props and Phillip Williams have infused athleticism and speed to a previously pedestrian unit.
Props won over teammates and the coaching staff after taking over at quarterback for Ryan Denton, who was lost for the season with reoccurring concussions after the first game of the season. The coaching staff knew Props was athletic and gave them their first true option QB in years, but his passing has been a surprise. Props is completing a little better than 50 percent of his passes, but more importantly, has eight TD passes and only one interception.
Williams has been just as impressive since returning from a preseason elbow injury, using his game-breaking speed to rush for a team-high 309 yards and four TDs in three games. He’s averaging 9.9 yards per carry.
Add in senior wide receiver Ben Teconchuk, who has six TD receptions and is averaging close to 32 yards a catch on nine receptions and the Wildcats have a trilogy of playmakers.
The line, led by senior guard Philip Salazar, continues to improve.
Comments — The problem is the Wildcats (4-2) are averaging almost 40 points a game in four wins and only 6.5 points in their two losses.
Grade B –

Defense
The rebuilt unit (one returning starter) has held teams to under 100 yards rushing and less than one touchdown a contest during the Wildcats’ three-game winning streak.
But Mayfield and Highland ran around and through a unit that lacks quickness and speed.
Junior Jason Burns has been a force since being moved to tackle and senior Jeff Epps gets better and steadier each week at linebacker through film study and hard work — he’s never played the position before.
Seniors Mark Young and Carlos Gallo lead a ball-hawking secondary that has intercepted 11 passes. The Wildcats have forced 21 turnovers.
Comment — They’ve gotten better after looking lost in the season-opening loss to Mayfield, but still haven’t shut down a quality opponent.
Grade C +

SPECIAL TEAMS
Led by Young, the Wildcats are averaging 31 yards on punt returns. Young had returns of 67 (for a TD) and 66 yards in Friday’s 42-6 win.
Strong-legged senior Jason Seefeld is a near-perfect 23-for- 24 on extra points and is 0-for-1 on field goals. Senior punter Mario Caswell has been solid.
Grade B +

OVERALL
The Wildcats have shown improvement in both effort and production nearly every week, but a pair of lopsided losses and a suspect schedule leaves lots of questions unanswered. The bottom line is the Wildcats still haven’t passed a tough test.
Grade B –

Rick White is the CNJ sports editor. He can be reached at:
rick_white@link.freedom.com