By Mickey Winfield: PNT sports writer
The Portales Rams (2-3) are more than halfway through their 2006 football schedule, and are coming off a bye week that coaches say, came at a very beneficial time.
The Rams used their bye week to prepare for the second half of the season, including a road game against Roswell High on Friday before opening their District 4-AAA schedule at home against Ruidoso, Oct. 20.
“Practice went well this week, we kind of changed some things up. We worked on our passing game, on special teams, we’ve had some great days of practice,” first-year head coach Andy Correll said. “(The kids have been) outstanding, their enthusiasm is up.”
Rams defensive coordinator and assistant coach Mark McAfee said upgrading the Portales pass defense is also a big priority this week.
“We’re playing pretty good run defense right now,” McAfee said. “And we’re a little susceptible to the pass, so that’s why we concentrated on that.
It’s not just a coincidence that the Roswell Coyotes like to throw the ball.
“Having Roswell throw it as much as they do is just kind of an added bonus for us, because we’ll see if it worked or not,” McAfee added. “We’re really trying to hone our skills on our pass coverage, the defensive front guys are reading, and making sure that we don’t lose what we have now.”
Offensively, Correll said he wants to build on the positive trends he saw against Goddard two weeks ago.
“We’re going to have to have that same type of game against Roswell, minus the penalties to be able to play with them,” Correll said. “We’ve got to be sound on every aspect of the ball this week.”
One recurring theme throughout the first half of the season has been a tendency to drop passes on offense, and Correll reassured that has been a focus of practice this week as well.
“We really preached to the kids this week about catching the football, and looking it in first, before we turn and run,” Correll said. “I think we’ve been turning and running, or looking to get hit, before we catch the ball, so we really focused on catching it this week.”
From a health perspective, Correll also said this open week came at a good time.
“We had some kids who have been sick, one had his wisdom teeth pulled so it’s just a week to kind of get those things done, and get ourselves well and get ready for district.”
Correll also puts high importance on grabbing a big road win, before the short district schedule begins.
“We’d love to go into district with a win, of course, and I definitely think we can do that,” Correll said. “Our effort and our intensity has to be at a high level this week, because after this week, our record is 0-0 just like everybody else, so we definitely want to go in with a win, and be on a high note when Ruidoso comes to see us.”