By Mickey Winfield: PNT sports writer
The Portales Rams have had two weeks of preparation, leading up to tonight’s pre-district finale against the Roswell High Coyotes at Roswell’s Wool Bowl.
With the district schedule just a week away, both teams have objectives they’d like to check off their list.
First-year Rams head coach Andy Correll says it’s time to fine tune the Rams execution on both sides of the ball, and that includes finishing drives, something Correll says the Rams haven’t been doing.
“Offensively, we’re looking for consistency to maintain drives, and not shoot ourselves in the foot,” Correll said. “The last three ball games that we’ve played, we stopped ourselves.”
Correll said eliminating poorly timed penalties and turnovers is their biggest priority before district action begins next week at home against Ruidoso.
“The penalties we’ve had have been at awful times,” Correll said. “We had two touchdowns called back against Goddard. We’ve got to get to where we don’t have them at our worst times.”
Like the Rams (2-3), the Roswell High Coyotes (4-3) play in one of the toughest districts in the state. The Coyotes district schedule contains perennial powers, the Goddard Rockets and the Artesia Bulldogs.
Roswell High head coach Barey Chambers says tonight’s game will prepare the Coyotes well for their district.
“Going against Portales is probably going to help us (get ready for Goddard),” Chambers said. “Because Portales did a great job against Goddard. We by no means are taking Portales for granted because they’re a good football team, regardless of record.”
Defensively for Portales, Correll is concerned that Roswell High may try to take advantage of the Rams young secondary.
“We can’t give up any big plays, we have to cause some turnovers,” Correll said. “They’re going to throw the ball on us quite a bit. They’ve got three really good receivers and a quarterback that can get them a football,” Correll said. “So, we’ve worked real hard with our secondary this week, and last week as well, of making sure we keep everything underneath us, and make sure we’re tackling well.”
Of course, the last time the Rams faced this kind of air attack, Muleshoe tallied over 200 yards through the air before halftime, of a game that was canceled due to lightning.
“We really haven’t seen this kind of team that likes to throw it since Muleshoe. They will spread us out, and they’ll want to throw it down the field and so we’re going to be tested pretty well Friday night,” Correll said.
But Chambers claims that the Coyotes have made an effort to keep things balanced this season.
“We tried to run the ball a little bit more this year, than we have the last couple (years),” Chambers said. “And we’ve been able to do that quite a bit, I’d say our run/pass ratio is probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 60/40. I think the key word for us is, what we’d like to see is a lot of balance, both run and pass.”
Another element in the Portales effort to shut down the Roswell passing game will be getting pressure on the quarterback.
“The biggest key defensively is we’re going to go (man-to-man) some and be able to try to get some heat on the quarterback up front. We’ve got some blitz packages that Coach McAfee has put in,” Correll continued. “He’s not the caliber of quarterback that say, Artesia has, but he does a good job of breaking tackles, so we’re going to have to tackle him well.”