By Kevin Wilson
Before the Portales High football team can set its sights on a state championship, its players will need to learn their roles.
Based on Friday’s scrimmage against Dexter, the Rams are well on their way.
Despite a revamped offense, changes on defense and only two days to prepare against the Class 2A Demons, the Rams came away with a convincing performance at the PHS practice field on Friday night, scoring seven touchdowns and allowing one between the varsity and junior varsity squads.
The Demons were a last-minute substitution for the Rams, who balked at a long trip to Hobbs to scrimmage against only the Eagle junior varsity.
The Ram offense was potent throughout, but Portales coach Glen Johnson thought the defense pulled its weight as well and made sure the Demons didn’t capitalize on a pair of Ram turnovers.
“Defensively, I’m very pleased,” Johnson said. “This early in the season, to get to where we want to be, we’ve got to play good defense.
“You don’t ever want to go out and turn the football over, but those things happen. When you have the defense go out and play as well as they did tonight, it’s not that big of a factor.”
While the defense was holding the Demons at bay, the Rams were scoring on the ground and through the air. Junior Chris Carter scored Portales’ first two touchdowns with a 10-yard reception and a 50-yard run from the halfback position.
Carter also played a series at quarterback, with a long completion to starting quarterback Seth Clabaugh and an interception caused by his reluctance to take a sack.
While the junior is not at the same level as Clabaugh or junior backup Tyler Rutherford, Ram offensive coordinator Greg Poynor plans to give Carter some time at the position every Friday.
“We want to use him a little bit at quarterback every game because he gives us a different dimension than Seth,” Poynor said, though he insisted that Clabaugh is penciled in at quarterback and Carter at running back.
“What I like about Chris is he made two poeple miss and turned what would have been a 5-yard gain into a 50-yard touchdown, and that helps our offense.”
Carter admitted that he’s still learning about what he can do at each position to help the Rams, the Class 3A runnerups.
“(The coaches) talked about me getting 10 to 12 reps at quarterback and rollout stuff,” Carter said. “I think it’s my job to find my role.
“With (the team’s) injuries, it’s kind of hard to find my role,” Carter added, “but if there’s a first down, I have to get it. If there’s a big play, I need to find a way to get it — just whatever the team needs.”
Portales was playing without offensive lineman Ricky Rivas (fracture on left hand) and tackle Mark Gore (hamstring) and saw both linebacker Chris Hernandez (dislocated shoulder) and lineman Zach Howard (sprained leg) suffer injuries.
One of the Rams’ biggest needs coming into 2003 is a fullback to replace Less Long, Class 3A’s leading rusher. Portales may have a solution with senior Cole Parrish, who had an 80-yard fumble return and a 50-yard run in the third quarter.
Parrish was able to use his strength to push off Demon defenders, but he doesn’t expect to have the same effect as Long, especially with the emergence of the Ram passing game.
“I’m not expecting to replace Less — he’s a good player — but I expect to be the best player I can be,” Parrish said. “It’s just rebuilding … Ii’s just building something different.”
Poynor noted that the passing game was successful on Friday in large part to the offensive line.
“I feel like we played well,” Poynor said. “We made some mistakes but in a scrimmage, you expect to make some mistakes. The guys up front played well. They just did a good job of blocking for Seth.”
The Rams open the season Friday, when they host West Las Vegas.