By Dave Wagner
LAS VEGAS, N.M. — For Seth Clabaugh and Cole Parrish, Saturday’s fourth annual Class 3A New Mexico High School Coaches Association all-star football game will lead them into the start of two-a-days in college next month.
For Matt Lujan and Brian Berry, it’s a chance to put a cap on their football careers.
They are four of Portales’ six players, along with T.J. Nusser and Josh Teague, who are on the 30-man South roster this week. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday at New Mexico Highlands’ Perkins Stadium.
Clabaugh, a quarterback for the Rams in high school and the son of Eastern New Mexico University baseball coach Phil Clabaugh, signed to play football next season with the Greyhounds’ Lone Star Conference South Division rival, Angelo State. He said he expects to redshirt this fall at ASU.
“We’re all trying to learn a new system, and trying to work out the kinks and stuff like that,” the younger Clabaugh said. “I just want to get back in the flow of things and get used to the speed of the game. I know the college game is faster.”
The teams arrived at NMHU on Monday for the start of weeklong two-a-day practices.
“We kind of alternate (practices) between offense and defense,” said Clabaugh, who also played in the defensive secondary in high school. “I think it’s a great experience for everybody. You get to meet new people and get to play with guys that you’ve played against.”
Parrish said he wasn’t too sure how well that would work out, but added that playing with his former foes hasn’t been a bad experience.
“We’ve actually come together pretty good,” said Parrish, a fullback-linebacker who will go the junior college route this fall at New Mexico Military Institute in Roswell. “When we first got here we were all in our little groups, but now we’re starting to hang out together.”
He’s hoping the camp will help prep him for the start of college practices.
“It should give me an understanding of where I need to be in the fall,” he said.
Lujan, a wide receiver-safety, said he plans to go into the Air Force soon while Berry doesn’t expect to attend college, at least in the immediate future.
“I’ll miss (football), but I won’t miss the two-a-days, that’s for sure,” Lujan quipped. “But all summer I’ve been looking forward to playing in this game.”
Berry, a two-way lineman in high school, said he wishes he could stretch the all-star experience.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said of Saturday’s game. “So far it’s been a fun week — I don’t want it to end. It’s fun to be able to play one more game.”
Lujan agreed that things have gone more smoothly than expected this week.
“We didn’t think we’d get along with the Lovington guys, but they’re pretty much like us,” Lujan said.
The Rams’ six representatives are hoping to put on a good show this week, coming off a disappointing 2003 season in which the team failed to qualify for postseason.
“It shows that we have some athletes on our (Portales) team,” Parrish said. “The biggest thing last fall was that we just didn’t come together like we should have.”