CHS FOOTBALL: Back in the game

Clovis senior Devin Hanson, who was thrown by a bull at his family farm earlier this season, is fifth on the team with 41 solo tackles. CNJ staff photo: Eric Kluth

By Jesse Wolfersberger: CNJ staff writer

There’s no questioning Devin Hanson’s ability to take a hit, not after he was roughed up by an angry bull on his family’s dairy farm.

“I was trying to get a tractor out of a gate,” the Clovis High senior strong safety said. “And I wasn’t really paying attention to where the bull was and, out of nowhere, here he comes.”

Hanson was thrown up and over the bull not once, but twice before he was able to get away. Hanson suffered deep bruises, but thanks to a bye week, missed only one game.

Hanson, who took off his junior year from football after starting at running back as a sophomore, is fifth on the team with 41 solo tackles. He also has an interception, and is second on the team with 10 pass break-ups.

He said taking off a year from football took its toll.

“Good God, it was horrible getting back into shape,” Hanson said. “I took the year off not really exercising or anything. I was very out of shape.”

Hanson said he is glad he decided to come back.

“I took last year off not really knowing if I wanted to play,” he said. “I came back this year knowing that this would be my last chance to play with all my friends. I thought it would be fun to finish my senior year with all my friends I’ve played with since fourth grade.”

Clovis assistant Darren Kelley said it was obvious at the beginning of the season thatHanson did not play football for a year.

“That definitely hurt him,” Kelley said. “And it took him a couple of games to figure it out. But he’s enough of a competitor that it got back to him and he wants to do better.”

Hanson said he does not focus on the things that happened in the past. Instead, he’s focused on what the team can accomplish this season.

“I’m just trying to put everything behind me,” Hanson said. “We’ve got three more games left if we play well, so hopefully we could do it. I believe you could ask anyone in this room and everyone would tell you that we’d be disappointed if we didn’t come home with the blue trophy.”

To do that, the second-seeded Wildcats (10-1) will have to get past seventh-seeded Manzano (6-5) at 7 p.m. today at Leon Williams Stadium.

Manzano boasts two highly touted college prospects in senior fullback Jered Metzger and senior wide receiver Nicky Lawson.

Lawson, who has signed with the University of New Mexico, is drawing comparisons to Clovis alumni Hank Baskett.

“I coached against Baskett when he played high-school ball,” Manzano coach Aaron Ocampo said. “And I think Nicky is very similar to him in high school.

“I don’t know how Nicky is going to develop. Obviously Baskett has made himself into a great player at UNM, but Nicky is very similar to what he was in high school.”

Kelley said the Clovis defense will try to keep Metzger and Lawson out of the end zone.

“We can’t let them have the big play,” he said. “Metzger is a big fullback, he’s tough. They’ve got a good receiver, (Lawson), so we’ve got to take care of him.”

Ocampo said his team has a similar dilemma trying to stop Clovis’ Brian Mead and Rishard Matthews.

“The mistake you make is trying to key on one player,” he said.

Mead has 1,537 yards and 16 touchdowns on the ground, while Matthews has 684 yards and nine scores receiving this season. Mead has also returned a kickoff for a touchdown, while Matthews has four rushing TDs and a punt return for a score.

Manzano at Clovis
7 p.m. today
Records: Manzano 6-5; Clovis 10-1.
Coaches: Manzano, Aaron Ocampo; Clovis, Eric Roanhaus.
Last meeting: 2003, Clovis beat Manzano 34-28 in Albuquerque.
Last week: Manzano beat Eldorado 21-7; Clovis routed Las Cruces 42-6.
Manzano players to watch: Brandon Pierce, 6-0, 235, Sr., C-NG; Brandon Pollard, 6-0, 220, Sr., DT; Jered Metzger, 5-10, 210, Sr., FB-LB; Nicky Lawson, 6-2, 180, Sr., WR-S.
Keys to the game: Both teams have potent 1-2 punches on offense, Metzger and Lawson for the Monarchs, and Brian Mead and Rishard Matthews for the Wildcats.
By the numbers: 41.8 — Average points per game by the Cats this season when they play at Leon Williams.
Quotable: “These guys have done a good job at playing at home. That’s always an advantage, and this is Manzano’s first trip out of town.” — Clovis assistant Darren Kelley, noting the Monarchs’ farthest road trip of the season was to Los Lunas.