By Kevin Wilson
One team will look for a chance to extend the 2003 football season tonight, the other a chance to build momentum for 2004.
The Portales Rams represent half of the playoff equation in District 4-3A in the 7 p.m. battle at New Mexico Military Institute, but only in the respect that Portales affects NMMI’s playoff hopes.
Portales (2-7, 0-2) has been knocked out of playoff contention, and could do make the same true for NMMI (7-1, 1-1) with a win. The Colts’ season would continue only if they beat the Rams and Ruidoso beats Lovington on the road.
“We have to win,” NMMI coach Dwight Burns said. “We have to pray for Ruidoso to beat Lovington. That’s our only hope.”
The hope for the Rams is only toward 2004, but coach Glen Johnson would like his team to get a win to catapult it into offseason work.
“We’re in a situation where we want to go out and win a football game,” said Johnson, who also wanted a win for his 17 seniors. “We need to win a football game.”
While some players will get prepared for next football season, some will join other Ram athletic teams. Running back Chris Carter could join the basketball squad as early as Saturday.
The junior symbolized Portales’ struggles with injuries and consistency, as he missed time with a deep thigh bruise and was hobbled by numerous foot and ankle injuries.
“I haven’t had a healthy game this whole year,” Carter said. “It seemed like I didn’t play as well as I could because of the injuries, and that was always in the back of my mind.”
Carter is hopeful Portales can finish the season on a good note, despite missing out on the playoffs for the first time since 1999.
“We’re kind of upset that no matter what we do, we won’t go to the playoffs,” Carter said. “But I think it would be nice if everybody came out and played hard. I don’t think that the team wants to go out (without a district win).”
Burns had figured that was the way the Rams were thinking.
“I think it’s going to be a tough game. I know they are coming from behind right now,” Burns said. “They don’t want to be blanked, so I know that Coach Johnson will have them fired up and ready to play.”
Friday’s weather in Roswell will be mostly cloudy with a slight chance of showers and lows in the 40s — a condition Burns said could lead to more turnovers.