Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Column - Playoff destiny in Hobbs football team's hands

  The Hobbs football team continued to do what it needs to do to be considered a Class 5A playoff team Friday night by crushing Lea County foe and Class 3A Lovington 47-0 at Watson Stadium.
  The Eagles have shown an ability all season to not just beat, but pummel teams that – on paper – Hobbs is better than (whether we knew the Eagles were better or not prior to the game).
  In Hobbs’ six wins this season, the Eagles are outscoring their opponents by 24.6 points per game. The closest a team has come to beating Hobbs in those games is Roswell High, who lost by 14 points but trailed by as much as 27 in the second half.
  But Roswell at 5-2 also holds the only winning record of the teams Hobbs has beaten as those teams combined are 13-27. Of course, that’s not all Hobbs’ fault as I don’t think a lot of people thought Artesia (2-5), Lovington  (1-5) or even Alamogordo (1-5) would be where they are this season.
  The only opponent Hobbs has faced that is a true upper-echelon team is Goddard and we all know how that went. The Eagles laid an egg, playing by far their worst game of the year while the Rockets were sharp in pounding Hobbs 50-7 at the Wool Bowl in Roswell.
  That’s why these last three games of the regular season for Hobbs – at Cleveland in Rio Rancho next week and the two District 4-5A games (home versus Clovis and at Carlsbad) – are so important.
Cleveland just suffered its first defeat of the season Friday in a 17-16 loss to Sandia, but is still 5-1 with a 41-21 win over Clovis in Clovis under its belt.
  And of course, the district games will be crucial against Clovis (3-4 after beating up on Artesia 48-17 at the Bulldog Bowl on Friday) and Carlsbad (4-3 after losing to Goddard 28-10 at home).
If Hobbs wins one of these final three games of the season, I think the Eagles are in the playoffs – no doubt.
  However, if the Eagles drop their final three games it’s going to be a big question whether they get in depending on how the rest of the state shakes out. Even at 6-4, Hobbs likely won’t get the benefit of the doubt with its lack of key victories against potential playoff squads on its schedule despite dominating in its other wins. While it doesn’t officially play into the playoff criteria, Hobbs’ lack of success since 1982 (one playoff win, 106-208 record) probably doesn’t help.
  The Eagles will have to earn their way into the playoffs, and having a feel of the attitude of this team and its coaching staff, I don’t think Hobbs would want it any other way.
  More important for the long-term future of the program is that Hobbs plays well and competes against these three teams in the top half of Class 5A. If the Eagles play to their potential, Hobbs has a shot in all three.
  If Hobbs plays like it did against Goddard, however, the Eagles will be playing into much of the state’s perception that Hobbs isn’t quite ready for big-time 5A football.
  Safe to say the next three weeks is going to tell us a lot about the state of Hobbs football.
  However one thing is for certain – no matter what happens the next three games, the Eagles are in a much better place than they’ve been.

(Editor's note: This column appeared in Sunday's edition of the Hobbs News-Sun. To get content like this and more on athletic teams in Lea County, get a hard copy or online subscription to the News-Sun by calling 575-393-2123.)