Cats set for scrimmage with Cruces

CNJ staff photo: Rick White Senior strong safety Josh Bryan meets senior running back Derrick Phillips in the hole.

By Rick White: CNJ managing editor

What: Clovis vs. Las Cruces High in a controlled scrimmage. The teams have been scrimmaging each other for more than a decade.

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Wool Bowl, Roswell

Format: Teams will run 40 plays each and 10 in goal-line situation. No live special teams.

2006 records: Las Cruces 3-7, Clovis 7-4

About Las Cruces: Coming off a down season that included forfeiting two games for using an eligible player, the Bulldawgs return 7 starters on offense and defense. The Bulldawgs, who traditionally have a strong passing game, have a small senior class with 11.

Las Cruces players to watch: Junior Donte Caro takes over at QB. He led the Bulldawgs with 70 catches last season … Junior RB James Hall rushed from more than 1,000 yards in 2006 … Senior CB Evan Burns leads a veteran secondary and also plays wide receiver.

About Clovis: The run-oriented Wildcats, who return 9 starters, have to rebuild an offensive line from scratch. The Wildcats also have to shore a secondary that was prone to giving up big plays.

Clovis players to watch: Senior Manuel Robles leads a strong group of RBs … An all-district guard, senior Dominique Chairez is making the switch to LB … Senior CB Jaden Isler anchors the secondary.

Switching back: After using a 3-5 defense made popular by the University of New Mexico, the Bulldawgs are switching back to a 5-2. “It fit our personnel better last year,” Las Cruces coach Jim Miller said of the 3-5 defense. “But we’re a little bigger this year. It’s more familiar.”

Las Cruces priorities: Execute on offense. On defense we can’t give up the big play and we make sure we run to the football. — Miller.

Clovis priorities: See how the OL handles its assignments at game speed. Get lined up correctly on defense. The passing game. — Clovis defensive coordinator Darren Kelley.

Coach Miller: “Year in and year out Clovis is one of the best teams in the state. It’s a good starting point for us.”

Coach Kelley: “Las Cruces does a good job of showing us a little bit of everything. They’re going to spread you out some, but they’re also going to line up and run it at you. They’re always a good test.”

Go figure: The Bulldawgs have won three state titles under Miller (1999, 2000, 2002).