Wildcats need no comeback this time

CNJ staff photo: Rick White Clovis senior Manuel Robles scores on fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line on the Wildcats’ opening possession Saturday at the Field of Dreams in Las Cruces. The Wildcats beat Las Cruces 37-29 to advance to the Class 5A state title game.

By Rick White: CNJ Managing Editor

LAS CRUCES — Only one team has reached the Class 5A state football title game more times than the Clovis Wildcats in the last seven years — the team they’ll face in this year’s finals, two-time defending state champion Mayfield.

Clovis reached its third 5A final in four years and fourth since 2001 by beating Las Cruces 37-29 on Saturday at the Field of Dreams.
Mayfield, which beat Cibola 26-14 on Friday, is making its sixth state final in seven seasons.

The teams will play at 6 p.m. Friday at Leon Williams Stadium. The Trojans (11-1) beat Clovis 38-20 in the first week of the season.
“They’re a great football team,” Clovis assistant coach Darren Kelley said. “We’re going to have to play our best football game of the season to beat them.”

The third-seeded Wildcats (9-3) at least have a blueprint to work off after beating No. 2 Las Cruces.

The Wildcats used a big-play offense to jump out to 14-0 and 37-21 leads en route to their sixth-straight win.

Senior running back Manuel Robles rushed for 132 yards and scored three times and Jordan Mendoza piloted a big-play passing game with a pair of touchdown passes as Clovis rolled up 396 yards.

“He runs so hard,” Kelley said of Robles. “He’s so strong, you can’t arm-tackle him.”

Meanwhile, the Wildcats’ defense stymied the Bulldawgs’ potent running game.

Las Cruces quarterback Dante Caro almost single-handedly kept his team at least in distance, passing for 150 yards and one score and rushing for 85 yards.

“We gave up too many big plays,” Las Cruces coach Jim Miller said. “When you get to the semifinals, big plays are what makes the difference.”

Las Cruces finished the season 10-2.