Clovis seniors Jonathan Sweet, left, and Jordan Moore talk during a break in practice Thursday at the high school. (CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer
Clovis High senior linebacker Jordan Moore was worried his year might be over when he dislocated his shoulder in the Wildcats’ season-opening loss at Mayfield.
“At first I was pretty worried because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to play again,” Moore said as the Cats prepared for Saturday’s return trip to Mayfield for the Class 5A state championship game. “There was supposed to be a good chance that it could happen again, so I didn’t know if my season was over or if I was going to be able to play.”
He was able to rehab and made his comeback six weeks later.
“I just pretty much made up my mind to come back,” he said. “I know this team needs me, and I know we can take it all the way.”
For Moore, one of the worst parts about being injured was having to watch the Cats end La Cueva’s 28-game win streak from the sidelines.
“That was terrible,” Moore said. “But I almost started crying after we beat them because I’ve been beat by them in three different sports. Lost to ’em in golf, lost to ’em in baseball, lost to ‘em in football. So it was pretty exciting to beat them.”
Moore has made 54 tackles, including 25 for losses.
JASON RICHARDS AND DREW Hatley, members of Clovis’ last state title team in 2001, have helped this year’s Wildcats to another title game.
Both coach at Yucca Junior High, serve as scouts, and are visible at practice patting a player on the back or teaching them a trick of the trade.
“We’re fortunate enough that (the coaching staff) let us come up here and help out,” said Hatley, a hard-hitting strong safety on the Wildcats’ unbeaten 2001 squad. “We both played in the system, so we feel like we know it pretty well. Kids like having us around because we’re more of a friend to them, because just a few years ago we were where they are.”
Richards, who quarterbacked the 2001 team that beat Mayfield 17-10 in the finals, is the older brother of senior tackle Kendall Richards. He said there are similarities between that team and this year’s squad.
“He’s playing the same opponent as me, at the same place, it’s sort of panning out the same way,” Jason Richards said. “It’s pretty special. I’d give up my ring today to see him win one.”
BY FAR, THE SMALLEST member of this year’s squad is junior receiver Keaton Howell.
Howell is listed at 5-foot-8-inches and 145 pounds, dimensions he could reach if he was standing on a Shanghai phone book holding a cinder block in each hand.
“I get a lot of crap for it,” Howell said. “In the first game, this one person said, ‘Look, there’s a little seventh grader playing on varsity.’”
Howell said his teammates and coaches give him a hard time, but he doesn’t take it personally.
“They mess around with me and tell me I need to grow,” he said. “Coach (Eric) Roanhaus told me that I should hang off the field goal poles to grow. I just laugh about it.”
MOST OF THE WILDCAT seniors played football at Play Inc. in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade.
Jonathan Sweet said the game is a lot different today than it was then.
“It’s changed a lot,” Sweet said. “When we were on the Play Inc. team, a lot of us played kind of imaginary positions. You just kind of played wherever you want.
“Then it was all about who was playing who because we were always playing each other, we weren’t all together yet. As we went on through junior high, the main thing was to get that state ring and win a state championship. And here we are.”