Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Sunday column - Eagles answer the call

  Last week after the Hobbs football team’s 50-7 loss to Class 4A defending champion Goddard in Roswell I wrote Friday’s contest against Alamogordo will tell us a lot about the Eagles’ resolve and character.
  After all – as Hobbs fans know – losses such as the Goddard defeat in the past have had residual effects on the Eagles, usually leading to a downward spiral.
  Anyone who watched Hobbs against Alamogordo Friday night knows it’s safe to say the Eagles weren’t going to let that happen.
  Hobbs dominated the Tigers to the tune of a 41-0 victory in front of the biggest crowd I’ve seen at Watson Stadium in my eight seasons covering Lea County sports.
  The Eagles’ defense dominated – posting its first shutout in six years, holding Alamogordo to 209 yards, getting key stops on its side of the field and creating turnovers to give the Hobbs offense short fields to work with.
  The Hobbs offense did what it needed to do in posting the Eagles’ fourth 40-point output in six games this season.
  The victory proved Hobbs can respond from a tough, poorly played game and a week later play arguably its best game of the season.
  And what an important victory it was.
  Hobbs now owns wins over District 3-5A opponents Gadsden, Oñate and Alamogordo. When playoff seeding and selection time comes around, the Eagles will have to be selected and/or seeded ahead of those three teams (unless one of these teams manages to beat one of the district front runners Mayfield or Las Cruces – something I don’t see happening).
  But there is a lot of time between now and playoff selection and seeding. The Eagles aren’t guaranteed a playoff spot just yet despite the 5-1 start. Key Class 5A matchups at Cleveland in Rio Rancho, at home against Clovis and at Carlsbad along with a rivalry contest against Lovington next week at Watson Stadium still loom as the Eagles attempt to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
  However, what was evident Friday was the excitement for football in Hobbs is growing with the success the Eagles are having (already with the most wins in a season since 2007 when Hobbs went 7-4).
  While I know homecoming crowds are generally larger, Friday (like I said before) is the best crowd I’ve seen at a Hobbs game in my time here. While there’s no official attendance number available, my guess is that there were roughly 8,000 people at the game – maybe more. 
  It was an exciting and electric environment. Between the huge crowd, the enormous Hobbs High band that provides a great atmosphere before, during and after the game, the fireworks and the cannon blasting (not to mention Hobbs had two guys parachute in – one with the game ball – on Friday), I venture to say it’s one of the better places to watch a prep football game in the area.
  The scary part (for the rest of the state, that is), is the atmosphere at Watson Stadium is only going to grow with what looks like an emerging Hobbs football program.
  It’s a program with an unbelievably high ceiling with its numbers (one of the largest high schools in the state to draw from), facilities (maybe the best in the state) and now – and most importantly – a coaching staff in place led by second-year coach Charles Gleghorn that has the athletes excited and dedicated to football.
  But even with all that in Hobbs’ favor, the only thing that will keep taking this program in the right direction toward being a power in New Mexico is the play on the field Friday nights.
  The win over Alamogordo was another small step toward that.

(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.)