Wildcats hit road to face Eldorado

Clovis High coach Eric Roanhaus, seated, goes over his schedule during Thursday’s practice in preparation for the Wildcats’ game tonight against Eldorado in Albuquerque. (CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

It’s bounce-back time for the Clovis High football team.

Coming off a season-opening 21-13 loss to Mayfield at Leon Williams Stadium, the Wildcats hit the road today to play Eldorado at Wilson Stadium in Albuquerque.

The Eagles are also looking for their first win, having lost 13-7 to Cibola last week.

“They’re big and strong, like they always are,” CHS assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “Physically, I think it’s a pretty equal matchup. I think we may be a little faster than they are.”

The teams haven’t met in three years, since the Eagles and Cats were in the same district. While Clovis was ranked third in the Albuquerque Journal’s preseason Class 5A poll, Eldorado was rated eighth.

“Your biggest improvement should come during the first three games,” Kelley said. “Hopefully, we can make a big jump this week.”

He added that the game should be a stern test for the Cats.

“People are saying they’re one of the top three or four teams in Albuquerque this year,” he said of the Eagles.

Eldorado coach David Williams, whose team went 9-3 and made the playoffs a year ago, said the Eagles failed to convert scoring opportunities against Cibola.

“We have some experience back this year, and a good number of kids,” he said. “We just weren’t able to (finish drives), and I was a little disappointed in that.

“It’s a typical Clovis team. They’re pretty solid up front, and it’s always been hard for us to match up with their skill people.”

The Eagles should have their first-game jitters out of the way, Williams said.

“Clovis is a good second-game opponent for us,” he said. “Our kids know (Clovis is) going to be good, and that they’ll have to play well against them.”

Kelley said the Cats are looking forward to the trip.

“The good thing is getting that first road trip out of the way,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ve made some improvement since last week.”

The Cats played well early against Mayfield, a rematch of last year’s Class 5A finals. They carried a 7-0 lead into halftime and got the ball first when play resumed.

Mayfield’s Chris Hutchinson intercepted a pass on the third play after the kickoff, though, returning it 28 yards for a touchdown. The Trojans controlled the rest of the game, putting together scoring drives of 11 and 10 plays on their next two possessions followed by a 15-play march which chewed up the remaining time.

“We felt like we should’ve won that game last week,” Kelley said. “We’ve been working on getting better at the little things.

“We didn’t do a very good job the second half of stopping (Mayfield). We’ve got to do a better job on third down. The biggest thing is if we can stop the run, we’ve got a chance to be successful this week.”