When the Hobbs Eagles football team takes the field tonight, it will be the start of a new season, the postseason. The records are thrown out the window and a hot streak can lead to a title, while mistakes can quickly end any team’s dreams of a state championship.
“It’s a one-and-done type of deal for everybody,” Hobbs coach Charles Gleghorn said. “The first time we went to the playoffs when I was here, I feel like we were the 11 and we played the six seed and we went to Albuquerque and we beat them. In the playoffs, anything can happen and you have to be ready.”
The Eagles (7-3) are the No. 6 seed and get to open the playoffs at home for the second time in as many years when Eldorado, the No. 11 seed, comes to Watson Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
“I remember last year was a big deal because it had been a long time,” Gleghorn said of hosting a playoff game. “We have been in the playoffs the last few years, but not at home. But back-to-back years, I don’t even know how long it has been, but it’s good playing at home.”
Because Eldorado is in Albuquerque, it is less than 250 miles away. That gave Hobbs the choice of hosting on Friday night or Saturday afternoon. Gleghorn and the Eagles elected for Friday night and the Golden Eagles agreed.
“The home team gets to chose, but not really,” Gleghorn said. “I choose Friday night and they have to agree to it. If they don’t agree, then it’s automatically on Saturday, but they agreed to Friday night.”
The team the Eagles are facing today is a bit different from the one they lost to in the quarterfinals on the road back in 2015. That Eldorado team lost in the state championship game.
The Golden Eagles (6-4 overall, but 1-3 in district) have done a decent job this year at putting points on the board. Eldorado is averaging 36.5 points a game.
Defensively, they are giving up 27, which should help the home team as tough defenses have caused the Hobbs offense to struggle late in the season.
“Their strength is certainly their offense,” Gleghorn said. “Even without their quarterback, their strength is still their offense. Their defense is good. They play a ton of straight man coverage. They are going to give up some plays, it’s just whether or not you can capitalize on them. That is what we’ll have to do, make sure we capitalize on big plays.”
Like most of Hobbs’ opponents this year, Eldorado is a run first team.
“They like to run the ball and I think that comes with their defense,” Gleghorn said. “They like to gamble with their defense, so they like to have the ball longer on offense. They run some option stuff really good and have good running backs, but they can still hurt you with the pass.”
Hobbs and Eldorado have two common opponents this year, Las Cruces and Clovis. Both teams beat the Bulldawgs and both teams lost to the Wildcats.
Semaj Cotton is expected to suit up and be a big factor in the offense. As for the quarterback, both senior Michael Greenough and sophomore Jarren Lewis are taking snaps under center to make sure both quarterbacks are ready.
“We are tripping them both right now,” Gleghorn said. “It’s one of those games where it’s seven guys in the box and they could bring tons of blitzes and they are manning up our guys. We have just got to get ready for that. We could score 70 or we could score 7. They are going to take chances on defense and we are going to take chances on offense.”
Isaiah Vaughn has been a best on the ground for Hobbs. The junior running back has racked up nearly 1,000 rushing yards. Now he is becoming a target in the passing game, too. The more Vaughn and his speed can get involved, the more success the Eagles will be.
Like Hobbs, Eldorado is also dealing with injuries. The Golden Eagles lost their QB for about six weeks to a broken collarbone. He was not cleared to play last week in the regular season finale, but is expected to be on the field Friday night.
“He went to the doctor last week to try to get cleared to play the last district game, but didn’t get cleared,” the Hobbs coach said. “Obviously he will go and try to get cleared again. We are preparing for him to be playing in the game.”
Hobbs vs. Eldorado Watson Stadium, 7 p.m.