By Mickey Winfield: PNT Staff Writer
It’s been said that defense wins championships. The Portales Rams are hoping the axiom holds true for their team.
In Friday night’s season opener at Las Vegas-Robertson, the Ram defense was one of the bright spots. The Portales defense held the defending state champs to just 57 rushing yards, 182 yards of total offense, and 13 points, something that made Rams head coach Andy Correll very happy.
“Our defense played outstanding, we hit hard, we were aggressive, and we were flying to the ball. We had white jerseys around the ball all night, so that’s what we’re after, that’s what we want to see,” Correll said.
Rams defensive coordinator Mark Mack agreed, and singled out senior linebackers Taylor Teague and Matt Pena for their play in the season opener.
“I would like all 11 to be where we’ve got to have them come district time,” Mack said. “Whatever combination that entails right now. Both my backers, Taylor Teague played a great ball game Friday night, Matt Pena also played a great ball game Friday night.”
According to Mack, the Portales defense uses a 3-4 formation, as well as a 6-1.
“(The defensive formation we use) depends on which one is working the best. This week we’re going to see which one works the best for Muleshoe.”
Mack also explained that the Rams 6-1 defensive formation is best suited to control the line of scrimmage, while the 3-4 is their blitzing formation.
“We’re not going to be able to stunt quite as much out of our 6-1, as we are out of our 3-4 package, (our 3-4 series) is more of our ‘come get you’ kind of package,” Mack said.
Mack explained that the defensive line and linebacking crew are all very experienced, but the defensive secondary is still a little green.
“Our secondary is probably the youngest of the bunch. We’ve got one sophomore, one senior, and the others are juniors,” Mack said.
The sophomore Mack referred to in the secondary is Brandon McAfee, starting at safety.
“We’re a little susceptible in the defensive secondary right now, and that makes me a little bit nervous, because we’re getting ready to play Muleshoe. We’ve got some things we have to fix and that’s our goal this week,” Mack said.
Teague agreed that he and his teammates will be tested Friday night.
“(Muleshoe) passes a lot so we’re trying to get our secondary sound, we’re mostly working with the secondary,” Teague said.
“I think we’re doing pretty good, come district, I think we’ll be really good,” Teague said.
The Portales Rams (0-1) host Muleshoe at 7 p.m. Friday at Greyhound Stadium in the Rams’ home opener.