By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
ROSWELL — For the first time against live opposition, the Clovis High football team generally got a passing grade in Friday’s scrimmage against Las Cruces High at the Wool Bowl.
The Cats’ No. 1 offense scored four touchdowns while Las Cruces tallied twice. The Bulldawgs also got a score with the No. 2 units on the field.
“We wanted to see some things today,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “We had some guys who stepped up.
“It’s different going against a live defense. Our offensive line had quite a few holding penalties, but the game speed is different (than in practice).”
Each team got 20 plays with its No. 1 unit, then 20 with the No. 2s before the No. 1s came back after a brief break. The teams worked on goalline situations at the end.
Junior wide receiver Rishard Matthews and junior running back Brian Mead each scored twice for the Cats. Senior quarterback Devin Sweet threw for three touchdowns, two to Matthews.
Clovis travels to Las Cruces on Friday to face Mayfield in the season opener.
The Cats began the scrimmage with an 11-play scoring drive, set up by a 24-yard pass from Sweet to Matthews on the first play and two end-arounds by Matthews totaling 17 yards. Mead finished it on a 12-yard toss play to the right, receiving a solid lead block from senior running back Tanner Fickling.
“We had a good first drive,” said the 5-foot-9, 160-pound Fickling. “We did better (in the scrimmage) than we did last year.
“All in all, we did pretty good, although there’s always room for improvement. We need to cut down on our penalties.”
Fickling said that after a week and a half in pads, it was good to get out and play someone else.
“We enjoy hitting each other, but it’s always nice to come out and hit someone else,” he said. “I’m ready for the season to start.”
Las Cruces went three-and-out on its first possession before mounting a 12-play drive that ended on downs at the Clovis 7 after three incomplete passes by senior quarterback K.B. Davies. Then, starting from their own 30, the Bulldawgs struck on the first play as Davies hit senior wide receiver Chris Cordova in the left flat on what turned into a 70-yard touchdown.
“We saw some good things,” Cruces coach Jim Miller said. “Clovis has a big offensive front, and I think we had to adjust to that. But our tackling and giving up big plays, those are things we have to improve on.”
Late in the scrimmage, the Cats scored three times in a stretch of four plays. After a holding penalty made it second-and-17, Matthews converted a pass from Sweet in the left flat into a 26-yard touchdown.
Then Mead galloped 70 yards for a score on a screen pass and Matthews came back two plays later — on second-and-14 after a sack — to haul in a deep throw from Sweet and outmaneuver the pursuit on a 74-yard TD play.
Las Cruces’ second score by its No. 1s came on a 33-yard run by senior running back Josh Magallanez. Junior Ryan Honeycutt threw a 10-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Daniel Gomez for the Cruces backups.
Miller said the Bulldawgs played without their top receiver and top tailback due to injuries.
“I saw some good things,” he said. “Chris (Cordova) came through, and some of our young kids played pretty well.
“I thought we threw the ball pretty well and we ran it OK.”
Kelley said junior left tackle Michael Cohen played fairly well on offense.
“Our (defensive) philosophy is to keep them underneath us and make them drive the length of the field,” Kelley said. “We made some mistakes that cost us a couple of touchdowns, but they’re easily correctable. At times, I thought our offense did a good job of moving to the ball.”