Clovis High junior Rishard Matthews is playing football for the first time after his family moved from California to Clovis earlier this year. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Avid football fans are quick to notice when an unfamiliar name pops up on the roster of their favorite team. If it turns out that the newcomer has any ability, so much the better.
Clovis and Portales prep followers may just be in luck this year as several players capable of making an impact have moved into the area.
Rishard Matthews, a 6-foot junior wide receiver, is expected to be a contributor to the Clovis offense after moving from the Fresno, Calif., area.
In Portales, a trio of players — junior Todd McBroom, senior Matt Markle and junior Erett Grubbs — will solidify the Rams’ line play. McBroom moved across state from Lordsburg while Markle (Pennsylvania) and Grubbs (Germany) came to the area when their parents were transferred to Cannon AFB.
In a fashion, that’s also the reason Matthews ended up at Clovis.
Matthews lives with his older sister, Avien, who is stationed at Cannon. He moved to the Clovis area in February.
While he has impressive ability, Matthews has never played high school football before. He said that his father was against the idea of him playing the sport when he lived in California.
“I’ve got a lot of stuff to learn, but it’s all coming along pretty well right now,” Matthews said. “Down there, they’re not really into football. But here they have a lot of football spirit — and I like that.”
Though he doesn’t have nearly as much gridiron experience as his peers, opposing coaches at one football tourney over the summer would have been hard-pressed to notice.
“I tell you what, it didn’t show up at the 7-on-7 tournament,” Portales coach Glenn Johnson said. “He’s a tremendous athlete.”
Like Matthews, Markle and Grubbs came to Portales with little in the way of traditional U.S. prep football experience. But one look at their size and agility and Johnson wasn’t about to turn them away.
“It’s going to be a good situation for us. To these guys’ credit, they’re very coachable,” Johnson said. “We’ve only been practicing a couple of days, but they’re really looking good as far as getting on the field and helping us.”
McBroom, a 6-1tight end, does have some New Mexico prep playing time behind him — and plenty of family history in Portales. His father, Rickie McBroom, is a former head boys basketball and baseball coach at Lordsburg as well as a Portales High graduate from 1976.
The move across the state was a chance to get closer to family for the McBrooms.
“I would come up here every summer and Christmas, so I know this place pretty well,” said Todd McBroom, who was part of the Class 2A state runner-up squad at Lordsburg two years ago.
Markle is a 6-4, 210-pound senior who will play on the offensive and defensive lines for the Rams.
“My dad was in the military for 20 years, so that’s why we did a lot of traveling when I was younger,” said Markle, who last played high school football as a freshman. “My mom just got in it a couple of months ago, so that’s what brought us here.”
Like Markle, Grubbs — at 6-2 and 230 pounds — is slated for line play with Portales. Grubbs has played the last two years on high school football teams, although he started late as those were the only two years of gridiron experience for him.
Unlike many his own age, Grubbs has already developed quite a philosophical view toward his family’s many moves. According to Grubbs, who just spent three years in Germany, his family has switched locations eight times.
“For me, home is wherever my family is. If they’re around me, I’m okay,” Grubbs said. “I don’t really look at one place as my home, because I really believe in the saying, ‘Home is where the heart is.’ My heart is with my family.”