By Kevin Wilson
Going into the end of the week, both Portales High athletic teams are running smoothly, efficiently and (insert knocking sound here) injury-free.
Practices started Monday for the PHS football and volleyball teams. Leading up to today’s practices, each coach is happy with the way the team is performing leading up to next week’s scrimmages.
“It’s almost a pleasant surprise going through the course of the week,” Ram football coach Glen Johnson said.
Johnson, entering his sixth season with Portales, has been adamant that the work his players did over the summer has helped accelerate the learning process.
“That has just catapulted us into the situation we’re in now,” Johnson said, “getting done the number of things we’re doing this early.”
Johnson said the Rams have had a “very good week” of practice with no injuries and should be ready for their scrimmage Aug. 22 at Hobbs.
A larger turnout is also helping Portales, as Johnson estimated 57 athletes from grades 10-12 — up from the mid-30s in his first few years at PHS are in the program. So far, the turnout has allowed the Rams to “platoon” their players during practice — that is, use 11 players for offense only and 11 players for defense only.
In the past, Johnson said the Rams had to, “put their best 14-15 into the rotation offensively and defensively, and it cuts down on the opportunity for other kids.”
Volleyball also has a high turnout, as PHS coach Ruth Chavez said 46 girls are out on the Lady Rams’ varsity, junior varsity and freshmen teams.
“It’s been good,” said Chavez. “I thought as a whole, they’ve came back in better shape than I’ve seen them for a long time.”
Chavez said she was pleased with a scrimmage the team had Thursday morning, and has another scrimmage planned for Tuesday. During that scrimmage, Chavez said scores will be kept as the team will try to adjust to rally scoring, which will be implemented this year.
“I think (my players are) exicted about it,” said Chavez, who doesn’t anticipate any struggles with the rule change. “I like it. It puts pressure on you, it makes you tougher.”
The Lady Rams will travel to Roswell Saturday for a multi-team scrimmage.