By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
Texico has won 23 straight games, most in dominating fashion. The Wolverines enter the Class 1A state title game Saturday at Cloudcroft as defending champions. They’ve beaten Capitan and Fort Sumner by a combined score of 110-6 in the first two weeks of this year’s playoffs.
Even with its resounding success, Texico coach Mike Prokop has told his team they can’t step on the field and expect to win, especially now when the title is on the line.
“There’s no way that we’ve already got this won,” Texico quarterback Braden Vaughan said, adding the team has battled against complacency the entire season. “Nothing’s going to be given to us. We’re going to have to work for what we want.”
For his part, Cloudcroft coach Terry Welch is talking up Texico, which hammered the Bears 56-0 last year in the semifinals.
“We’re very lucky, fortunate and happy to be where we are,” Welch said. “Unfortunately we have to play Texico. I don’t know if anyone can beat them but we at least have the chance to try it.”
Texico has worked on ironing out kinks this week. Welch isn’t sure the Wolverines have any. He said he watched three tapes of Texico games and couldn’t spot a weakness.
Still, the Bears are hoping to make the Wolverines work harder than they did last year.
“We’re certainly not giving up,” Welch said. “We’re certainly not afraid.”
Cloudcroft (10-1) has scored at least 38 points in each of its last six games, including a 39-19 win over Jal in the semifinals. The Bears operate predominantly out of a shotgun formation even though they prefer the run.
Sophomore Joshua Ham, sophomore Aaron Capps and senior Logan Capps interchange between quarterback, running back and wide out, and all of them are fast.
“It’s kind of like a Fort Sumner, they’ve got that kind of speed,” Prokop said.
In last year’s semifinal, Cloudcroft turned the ball over a few times early and Texico took control.
“We cannot make any mistakes at all,” he said. “We have to play a perfect game on offense if we are going to have a chance at all.”
Vaughan is confident the defense could handle the Bears.
“As long as on defense we read our keys, we’ll get to the ball every time,” he said.
On defense, the Cloudcroft runs an attacking five-man front, similar to Texico’s scheme.
“They don’t do anything fancy, they just play football, just like we do,” Prokop said.
The Artesia JV is the only team to score more than 19 points against Cloudcroft this season.
Fort Sumner managed 18 in a 10-point loss to the Bears in the regular season.