Cats have questions up front

CNJ staff photo: Rick White Clovis senior Matthew Martinez (74) is in the running for the starting right guard spot. The Wildcats will likely field five new starters on the line.

By Rick White: CNJ managing editor

The Clovis Wildcats’ biggest question heading into the season will likely take a while to answer.

The Wildcats will start the season with an offensive line virtually void of varsity experience. Four of last year’s starters graduated and the fifth, all-district guard Dominque Chairez, is being moved to linebacker.

“We’re so green you could put them on a salad and you couldn’t find them,” Clovis line coach Bruce Scroggins said.

The Wildcats finished their first week of fall practice Saturday and have two more weeks to get ready for an Aug. 31 season-opener at two-time Class 5A state champion Mayfield.

“Right now, it’s just a lot reps,” Scroggins said. “Some of them played junior varsity last year and need to get used to the speed of varsity. Some are playing different positions.”

The rebuilding blocks start with senior center Nathan Carver, who played a few games at tackle last season. And even he is coming off a broken foot that is slow to heal.

Senior Gama Carrera and Matthew Martinez are getting the first look at guard, and Chris Roper and Chris Grassell top the depth chart at tackle.

“I’m looking for consistency,” Scroggins said Friday before the Wildcats’ second practice in pads.

“It’s a whole lot different in pads,” he said. “The guys are starting to have to hit moving targets and that changes things up.”

While the Wildcats have decent size in Carver (6-2, 245), Roper (6-1, 262) and backup Daniel Segovia (6-2, 275), they’ll rely more on quickness.

“It’ll allow us to do a little more pulling, but we’re still going to be doing the same things,” Scroggins said. “This group works hard. ‘It’s just a mental thing with them right now.”

Scroggins and Carrera said running the ball — which Clovis does as well as anybody in the state — is about attitude.

“You’ve got to want that five yards, that 10 yards,” Carrera said. “If you don’t want it, you’re not going to get it.”

Blocking for one of the state’s top running backs in senior Manuel Robles should take some pressure off the line. Robles rushed for more than 1,100 yards last season playing in the shadows of Brian Mead, the school’s all-time leading rusher.