By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
After a 2-9 season a year ago, not many could have imagined a state-championship appearance by the Portales Rams under first-year coach Andy Correll. But that’s what happened.
Correll knows the sudden success will raise expectations for next season, and that’s a good thing, he said.
“The expectations cannot be any higher,” Correll said. “The expectations will be there. We’ve got a lot of work to do and I definitely think that’s a positive. This group of juniors and sophomores want to be in this same situation next year.”
The Rams claimed the District 4-3A crown and shocked two of the top three seeds on the road in the playoffs (Bloomfield and St. Michael’s).
The Rams’ journey through the playoffs ended Saturday night at Greyhound Stadium, as the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals captured their second consecutive Class 3A state championship with a 28-6 victory over Portales.
But in the process, Portales, which fnished 7-6, announced its return to the state’s Class 3A football elite.
“We met the expectations the coaches set for us,” junior quarterback Chris Mosier said. “We had a lot of guys out there that wanted to be better.”
Portales senior wide receiver Todd McBroom is glad it happened in his final year playing high school football
“I’m happy,” McBroom said. “We were capable of doing this last year, we just never got on the same page, but this was exciting.”
With 18 seniors, graduation looms large over the Rams.
“We’re going to take a pretty big hit (with graduation),” Correll said. “But at the same time, we’ve got 12 juniors and 12-15 sophomores who were a big part of this, and who are now hungry. They’re already talking about getting in the weight room. They’re already wanting to get after it for next year.”
Several Rams are also making the overnight transition from the gridiron to the basketball court.
“(The transition) will probably be hard conditioning-wise,” McBroom said. “We have time off in football between each play, and basketball is up and down with not many breaks.”
“It’s going to be pretty tough, because I haven’t shot a basketball in several months,” Mosier said. “The average football play lasts about three to four seconds, but basketball is non-stop.”
For those who aren’t headed off to basketball, the Portales football off-season conditioning program begins later this week with an eye toward next season.
“That spark and that tradition has been set,” Correll said. “They know what it’s going to take to get there next year.”