By Dave Wagner
New Roswell High football coach Barry Chambers hopes he can accomplish for the Coyotes what he did over the past four seasons at Deming — lift the program to respectability.
“At Deming, I walked into an 0-24 situation and we made the playoffs a couple of years,” Chambers said as he prepared his squad for Friday’s 7 p.m. clash against Portales High at the Wool Bowl. “We’re kind of trying to do that here.”
Coming off 0-10 and 1-9 seasons, the Coyotes have made strides this fall despite a 1-5 record. Their only win came at the expense of Portales’ Class 4-3A rival, Ruidoso.
By comparison, West Las Vegas, a team Portales beat 29-21 in its season opener, was thrashed by Ruidoso 63-16 a few weeks back.
Meantime, the Rams are coming off three consecutive losses, including a 55-8 dismantling at the hands of Class 4A No. 1-ranked Artesia on Friday at Blackwater Draw. And they’ll be without senior quarterback-safety Tyler Rutherford, probably for a couple of weeks, with a separated shoulder.
Also, sophomore defensive end Matt Pena was lost for the season in last week’s game with a fractured ankle.
“This is our last contest before going into district play,” PHS coach Glenn Johnson said. “It’s time to show what type of football team we are.”
Roswell High is the third consecutive District 4-4A opponent for PHS. Conversely, the Coyotes are playing their third 4-3A foe.
“They battled Lovington pretty well (in an early-season loss),” Johnson said. “Roswell High is not the ‘down’ team they’ve been the last few years. Coach Chambers has done an excellent job in his first year.”
The Rams, who haven’t won since Sept. 10 at Raton, need some good things to start happening, Johnson said.
“It’s been a while (since the last win); it’s well overdue,” he said. “They’re (Coyotes) looking at us kind of the same way we’re looking at them. I’m sure they’re anticipating lining up and playing well.”
Johnson said senior running back Chris Carter will start at quarterback on Friday over sophomore wide receiver Mario Salazar, who filled in admirably in the second half of the 28-9 victory at Raton.
“That’s not to say we won’t get Mario in there at some point,” Johnson said.
Meantime, junior quarterback Zane Klemo is slated to play again after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury, although Chambers isn’t sure how much time he’ll see. Junior wide receiver Josh Williams — the Coyotes’ “utilityman,” Chambers said — has filled in under center.
“I think both (teams) need to go out and play well this week, regardless of the outcome of the ballgame,” Chambers said.