Hounds battle rain, wind

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo ENMU’s Anthony Ramos tries to break the tackle of Tillman Stevens during Saturday’s spring football scrimmage at Greyhound Stadium.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

BLACKWATER DRAW — Saturday’s spring football intrasquad scrimmage may have been no big deal to some of Eastern New Mexico University’s established veterans. But it was the first semi-regular game that Erett Grubbs played back at his old home stadium on Saturday morning.

The sophomore lineman was part of the scrimmage, which is the first of three such events during the spring practice schedule at Eastern. Greyhound Stadium is a familiar locale for Grubb, since he played high school ball at Portales.

“It’s a good program; I like it,” Grubbs said of ENMU’s defensive approach to stopping offenses. “It’s a little bit different as far as the mentality, because there was a little more reading back at NMMI (New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell). It takes a little while to switch the defense that you play.”

Grubbs graduated from Portales in 1997 and then played as a freshman at New Mexico Military Institute the following fall. He also played last fall at NMMI, before transfering to ENMU between semesters.

While most of the players on the field on Saturday, including locals like junior linebacker Devin Sweet of Clovis, have experience as a Greyhound, Grubbs was one of the new ones.

“I’m starting to get into it a little better every day since Monday — and that’s cool,” Grubbs said.

Eastern coach Mark Ribaudo said the team had four practices before staging Saturday’s scrimmage between the green-clad defensive players and offensive units who were wearing white uniforms.

“This is the end of the first week,” Ribaudo said. “You’re allowed 15 practices and a certain amount of them are in full pads and a certain amount do you have helmets.

“You can also only devote a certain amount to scrimmage. Next Saturday we’ll have an intrasquad scrimmage, and then we’ll have the big Green-and-Silver game the last week.”

Most of the offensive came through the Texas Tech-style spread formation passing attack, with few running plays called. The defensive squads weren’t fooled very often, but Ribaudo said he expected that.

“It takes a while for the offense to come around, but I think we’re ahead of where we were last year,” he said. “We’ll work on it all next week and test it out again next Saturday.

“For this offense to be effective, I believe you have to run the ball for over 100 yards a game, so we really do need to work on our running game and we’re making a concerted effort to do that.”

It was the first taste of football since the last season for diehard fans and there was a handful of those in the outdoor seats. A dozen more took refuge in the indoor spectator area at the top of the stadium.

Two ENMU students, Savannah Gill and Ana Marroquin, stubbornly refused to leave the outdoor bleachers in order to stay closer to the field.

“You get a better view down here,” said Gill, huddled under a blanket with Marroquin with teeth chattering because of the wind and rain. “We’re just supporting the Greyhounds.

“I think it looks good. It’s going to be a good team next year.”