Cats face Bulldawgs in quarterfinals

By David Norton
Staff writer
dnorton@pntonline.com
Tonight’s class 6A state playoff quarterfinals contest between Clovis High and Las Cruces High will come down to a battle of matchups — more specifically, which team can stop the other’s specific playmakers.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks Clovis High football coach Eric Roanhaus, right, and assistant Drew Hatley go over strategy during Tuesday’s practice at Leon Williams Stadium. The Wildcats visit third-seeded Las Cruces High for a 7 p.m. Class 6A playoff quarterfinal tonight.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Clovis High football coach Eric Roanhaus, right, and assistant Drew Hatley go over strategy during Tuesday’s practice at Leon Williams Stadium. The Wildcats visit third-seeded Las Cruces High for a 7 p.m. Class 6A playoff quarterfinal tonight.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Field of Dreams in Las Cruces, with the No. 6-seeded Wildcats traveling to the third-seeded Bulldawgs.

With quarterback Sebastian Roanhaus throwing the ball better than he has all year and running back Micah Gray continuing to put up big numbers (1,648 yards on the season with 29 touchdowns), the Wildcats (8-3) are the definition of a dual-threat offense. While coach Eric Roanhaus’ traditional Wildcats are a ground-and-pound type of offense, the added wrinkle of a revitalized air game could lead to big gains for Clovis.

Coach Roanhaus said, “We’ve had teams this year that have stacked the box with eight guys and we’ve had to throw, then like last week they only have seven in the box and we can run. So it just depends on what they give us defensively, which dictates what we do offensively.”

On the other side of the field, the Bulldawgs are led by standout quarterback Payton Ball. He, along with wideout Brandon Baeza and running back Ryan Beltran, make up a dangerous offense that can grind teams down with the run or pick up big chunks of yardage through the air.

The Bulldawgs (9-1) are averaging 39 points per game this year and have wins over Eldorado (49-45), Hobbs (48-28) and Carlsbad (21-7).

As always, especially on the road, the Wildcats will need to “get off the bus” and show up prepared to Las Cruces’ Field of Dreams, coach Roanhaus said.

“We’re going to have to be ready to play, come out and have a good first quarter,” he said. “They’re a good football team and this time of year that’s who you’re going to play.

“We’ve been in a dogfight every Friday night. We are going to have to get into the fourth quarter and win it there.”

As for Gray, the senior said that even though a loss could be his last time on the field for Clovis, he won’t be changing his mindset heading into tonight’s game.

“Just playing my hardest for my teammates like I always do,” Gray said. “I just want to go out with a bang, play my hardest and play another week. I know what to expect out of (the Bulldawgs), so I’m going to give it my best shot.”

GAMEDAY
Clovis at Las Cruces High
7 p.m. today at Field of Dreams
On the air: KCLV-AM 1240 AM, KCLV-FM 99.1 FM, KTQM-FM 99.9 FM; streaming online at kclvsports.com at ktqmclovis.com.
Records: Clovis 8-3, Las Cruces High 9-1.
Coaches: Clovis, Eric Roanhaus, 39th season, 343-140-5. Las Cruces High, Mark Lopez, 1st season, 9-1.
Last week: The Bulldawgs, seeded third in the 12-team Class 6A playoff field, had a first-round playoff bye while sixth-seeded Clovis rallied to beat Eldorado 31-28.
Last meeting: 2012, then-Class 5A quarterfinals, Las Cruces  won 70-40. Clovis leads the overall series 8-5.
Bulldawgs players to watch: QB Payton Ball, WR Brandon Baeza, RB Ryan Beltran.

— Compiled by David Norton