Alumni Bowl II on tap

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks ENMU defensive line coach and former player Larry Varnado watches freshman nose guard Collin Mizer, left, and junior defensive end Quinin Roberson during Friday’s final practice of spring drills.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

PORTALES — Mark Ribaudo believes it’s been a successful spring season for his Eastern New Mexico University football team.

Now the Greyhounds want to wrap it up with some fun in what has been dubbed “Alumni Bowl II” at 4 p.m. today at Greyhound Field.

ENMU, with about 60 players participating in spring drills, will take on a team of former Hounds.

It’s a format Ribaudo started last year.

“The two things we want to accomplish when we have an alumni game are to bring some of the alumni back, and to have the current team see some different faces,” he said. “It makes it like scrimmaging against another opponent.”

Assistant coach Draco Miller put together a list of around 39 names this week. Several ENMU coaches — Larry Varnado (defensive line), Tim Ojeda (outside linebackers), Marcus Smith (offensive line) and Peter Juve (cornerbacks) — are scheduled to play for the alumni.

Michael Benton, ENMU’s quarterback for the past three seasons, will also play for the alumni, although Ribaudo said he doesn’t anticipate seeing him at quarterback. Instead, Benton could be used at wide receiver or running back.

“There’ll be a lot of good football players coming back,” Ribaudo said.

For Varnado, a 1998 Clovis High grad who last played for the Hounds in 2002, it’s something he’s looking forward to doing.

“I haven’t done a lot of training, although I’ve played a little racquetball,” said Varnado, a linebacker in his college days. “I’m just going to wing it.”

Varnado said he played one season of semipro football in New Mexico since his college days.

He doesn’t plan to hold anything back.

“I just expect to go out there and be physical,” he said. “If they outrun me, they outrun me.

“It’s going to be fun to get out there and run around a little bit,” he said. “We might not beat them, but it’s going to be physical.”

Former ENMU linebacker Garrett Williams is scheduled to coach the alumni defense, with former tackle Dustin Fish and quarterback Mike McCallum running the offense. Williams and McCallum are slated to play.

ENMU turned back the alumni 28-20 in last year’s contest.