Junior running back Manuel Robles (32) has rushed for more than 100 yards in two of Clovis’ four games. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Greg Price: CNJ sports writer
Manuel Robles and Marcus Williams are better known as track athletes — Robles is a two-time Class 5A state champion triple-jumper while Williams is the reigning champ in high jump.
They’re also starting to make names for themselves on the football field.
Robles, a Clovis junior, has rushed for 462 yards and two touchdowns. He complements senior all-state running back Brian Mead with his bruising running style.
Meanwhile, Williams is part of a two-pronged Rio Rancho attack.
The 5-foot-10, 150-pound junior leads the Rams with 474 yards.
“He’s fast and pretty good,” said Robles, who competed against Williams in high jump, long jump and the 100 during the spring. “I’m not gonna lie.”
Robles and Williams will square off again today when Clovis hosts Rio Rancho in the Wildcats’ homecoming game at Leon Williams Stadium.
“They’re not big kids, but they’re real quick,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said of Williams and backfield mate Andrew Mastriano.
Mastriano and Williams proved their big play capability last week in a 35-16 win over Santa Fe High. Mastriano sprinted for a 62-yard touchdown run and Williams added a 44-yard scoring run.
“Both of them can run well and they’re hard to tackle,” Kelley said. “The biggest thing you can’t do is have (Williams and Mastriano) make the big play.”
The Wildcats (2-2) are coming off a disappointing 32-26 overtime road loss to Amarillo Palo Duro in which Clovis had three kicks blocked and lost four fumbles.
Clovis’ special teams blunders fueled Palo Duro’s come-from-behind victory.
Kelley said several changes were made on special teams this week.
“We didn’t come out to play last week, and after we got the lead, we kinda got the big head,” Clovis senior linebacker Cade Wheeler said. “And whenever you get the big head, that’s the easiest way to get knocked down.”
Wheeler said the team has approached this week’s practices with more intensity.
Rio Rancho coach Phil Lopez said senior quarterback Chris Charley nicely complements Williams and Mastriano.
“In the past, we’ve asked our quarterbacks to be field generals and hand the ball off and run the offense,” Lopez said. “But when Chris has thrown, he’s done a great job.”
So far this season, Charley has thrown for 420 yards and seven touchdowns.
Rio Rancho at Clovis
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Leon Williams Stadium
Records: Clovis 2-2, Rio Rancho 2-2.
On the radio: KWKA 680, KCLV 1240
Coaches: Rio Rancho, Phil Lopez, 4th year. Clovis Eric Roanhaus, 29th.
Last week: Clovis lost at Amarillo Palo Duro 32-26 in overtime. Rio Rancho beat Santa Fe 35-16.
Last meeting: Clovis beat Rio Rancho 20-14.
Rio Rancho players to watch: Andrew Mastriano 5-5, 153 Sr., RB; Marcus Williams 5-10, Jr., 150, RB; Chris Charley 5-9, 165, Sr., QB
Keys to the game: The Cats’ defense will try to contain Rio Rancho’s speedy RBs Mastriano and Williams. The Rams will have the same problem as Clovis as they try to hinder senior running back Brian Mead and junior running back Manuel Robles.