By Mickey Winfield, PNT Staff Writer
For the second straight year, the Portales Rams begin their season against the Las Vegas Robertson Cardinals, the two-time defending Class 3A state champion.
The game is at 7 p.m. today at Greyhound Stadium.
“They’re going to run the same offense and defense as they ran last year, so we feel like we’re prepared for them,” Portales second-year coach Andy Correll said.
Tonight’s game will be the third time in about a year the Cardinals and Rams have hooked up.
“We’ve looked forward to this game ever since Dec. 2,” Correll said. “It’s been our focus. We’re not even looking at our district foes. We’re a hundred percent on Robertson.”
The Rams have installed a new wrinkle: a timing-based passing game. Correll said the Rams have about 117 plays ready for the opener, compared to about 25 ready for their opener last season against Robertson.
“We ought to be a little more balanced as far as plays — run to pass,” Correll said. “The kids have really bought into it, and they understand it. It’s only going to grow. We don’t have it all in yet, but we do have quite a bit.”
Robertson returns a handful of starters on both sides of the ball. Correll and assistant coach and defensive coordinator Mark McAfee said Robertson’s strength is an offensive line averaging close to 250 pounds.
“That’s going to be our testing point right there,” McAfee said. “We’re going to move. We’re not going to sit there and try to go fisticuffs with them. We’re going to be moving.”
“They’re huge up front,” Correll said. “I think they’re bigger than they’ve ever been as long as (Coach Chad) Roanhaus has been there across the front. They’ve got some big kids. I don’t know, as far as team speed-wise, if they’re as fast as they were last year, but they do have a couple of backs who can go.”
Despite the offseason changes on both sides of the ball, Correll still believes the Rams may have to get a little lucky in the opener.
“We’re going to have to have some things go our way, some breaks,” Correll said. “We’ve got quite a few (for) who this is going to be their first game under the lights, so we’re going to be a little bright-eyed.”
“We’re going to have to play up and down the line of scrimmage, which is my philosophy and I preach that,” McAfee said. “If we do that (tonight) then we’re going to be OK.”