By Kevin Wilson
All told, Brian Berry has about 1,000 miles of travel ahead of him over the next four days. He hopes a few hundred yards of that journey come on the gridiron against Artesia tonight.
Berry, a 5-foot-9, 200-pound senior, will start at left guard in the 7 p.m. tilt for the 4-2 Portales Ram football squad, the start of a long weekend due to the Columbus Day holiday.
After the game ends, he and girlfriend Caley Cole will drive from Artesia on a 480-mile trip to Dallas for this weekend’s National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) Fall Nationals.
He and Cole will return back from Dallas to Amarillo to spend time with Cole’s sister Cresha, before returning to Portales.
From Portales to Artesia to Dallas to Amarillo to Portales, Berry’s trip is approximately 1,015 miles. He’d like to start the trip off right by helping the Rams pull an upset over the Class 4A Bulldogs.
“We just need to play all four quarters and not let them get up so quickly like we did against Goddard,” Berry said. “They just run to the ball pretty good and they play aggressive.”
The Rams lost to Goddard 33-18 two weeks ago, Portales’ first game against a 4A opponent.
The Rams are coming off of a 49-0 win over Class 1A Eunice, while the Bulldogs (5-1) suffered their first loss of the season, 42-14 to Las Cruces.
Portales lost to Artesia 35-12 last season, but only trailed the Bulldogs 7-0 going into halftime. Portales coach Glen Johnson hopes the Rams can have a similar start, but a different finish.
“In the first two quarters (last year), we executed well, we did the things we needed to do, we kept the game close,” Johnson said. “You do four quarters of that, it’s a pretty good game against a pretty good football team.”
The Bulldogs had troubles on offense against Class 5A Las Cruces. The Portales coaching staff knows it won’t be that easy for the 3A Rams to duplicate that feat.
“We have to continue to work to not give up the big play. A high-powered offense like that, you can’t stop them. You’ve got to look to contain them.”
The key word is contain, as Portales Defensive Coordinator Mark McAfee contends.
“We’ve got to contain, we’ve got to tackle,” McAfee said. “We’ve got to make sure we play a good solid, disciplined football game.”
The Rams may not be at full strength on offense, as running back Chris Carter is a game-time decision — Carter sprained his left foot in practice this week.
On defense, Portales is without defensive lineman Dustin Bare (concussion), linebacker Chris Hernandez (separated shoulder) and defensive end Ricky Rivas.
Johnson said that an evaluation showed that Rivas’ ACL is not torn, and the senior has an appointment on Tuesday regarding the cast on his right wrist.
Artesia coach Cooper Henderson could not be reached for comment.