Jordan Harrison was bouncing around practice on Wednesday, calling plays at the line of scrimmage, fighting off offensive lineman and clashing helmets with running backs and wide receivers.
During one play the senior Portales High School middle linebacker struck the running back at the line of scrimage, reversing his forward motion for a short loss.
“Jordan had a great practice today,” defensive coordinator Mark McAfee said. “He started feeling the inside-out real well and making a lot of tackles for us which is what he has to do playing the middle linebacker spot.”
His 6’3 215-pound frame make him the largest starting linebacker on the team, a few inches taller than junior outside linebackers Todd Mosier (6’0, 180) and Chris Hernandez (5’9, 165).
The three are a vital part of the team defense, bottling up the middle of the field in an effort to stop offenses and prevent touchdowns.
Their goals are clear: To go undefeated, win a state championship and keep at least one team this year off the scoreboard.
“I think as a defense we play pretty good, there are moments where let up, but overall we play pretty good,” Harrison said.
McAfee said he has seen the improvements in his defense since the first game, when the Rams gave up 173 yards. Last week the Rams (3-0) cut that number to 112 yards in a 14-13 win over the Raton Tigers.
“They have to continually get better every week, McAfee noted. “All aspects of our defense must better, but those guys especially because they have to be able to play the run and the pass.”
Recently back from an injury, Hernandez will offer a new face to line backing core, filling in for Josh Wilbanks who moved to offense to fill in for an injured Manuel Sisneros.
McAfee described Hernandez as a bit rusty but said he has been making progress recently.
Mosier is the best decision maker of the three, McAfee said, and a steady playmaker.
“It’s mental, you have be mental (during games),” Mosier said. “We have to step up, stay focused and clean everything up, clean up the trash,” and knock the pile the other way, he added.
Like Hernandez, Mosier has been wearing pads and making tackles since grade school when he began playing organized football.
Like their coaches, Mosier, Hernandez and Harrison know what it takes to go undefeated.
“Our goal is to stick through it this year, until the last 48 minutes,” Harrison said, when they hope to top last year’s runner-up finish and win a state championship.