Two familiar foes are looking for their next win on Saturday as the West Texas Outlaws host the Curry County Cats of Clovis, New Mexico, in a Rio Grande Football League Eastern Division match-up.
The Outlaws, of Lubbock, are coming off a bye week and a 31-7 loss to the New Mexico Rush prior to that, while the Cats are coming off a 41-2 win against the West Texas Bulldogz. So far in this young season, each team’s only win has come against the Bulldogz.
That has to change at Lena Stephens Field at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“In my years playing and coaching, we’ve had good games, but we’ve never beaten the Curry County Cats,” Outlaws head coach Shannon Cross told DFUSA. “They play hard and they play four quarters. We’ve just got to go out and execute our plays to the fullest and be ready to play 100 percent on both sides of the ball.”
Two weeks ago, the Outlaws led the New Mexico Rush 7-6 at halftime until special teams miscues and points by the Rush defense put West Texas in a hole it couldn’t get out of on the road. However, the Outlaws are 1-0 at home in this young season and they’ll depend on the home crowd to keep trend going.
“We’re going in with high expectations,” Outlaws head coach Shannon Cross told DFUSA. “We’ve been up and we’ve been down, we’ve experienced the best of both worlds. We’re going into this game with our heads up high and hoping to get back on a win streak again.
“With that said, we’re angry and we’re ready to go.”
The Outlaws will be without one of their defensive leaders this weekend, veteran cornerback Corey White, who suffered a dislocated shoulder against the Rush. White has four interceptions on the season and will be missed, but is expected to return for the Outlaws next game, April 2 versus the West Texas Pride.
With White out, the Outlaws will continue to rely on tackles leader, linebacker Brandon Brooks, and defensive lineman J.T. Cotton.
“Brandon Brooks is a veteran and the passion he has for the game is just crazy,” Cross said. “We’ve had outstanding play from him. He brings 100 percent and just plays hard. He plays smashmouth football for four quarters. He plays hurt, he plays tired and he goes hard 100 percent of the time.
“J.T. Cotton brings a whole lot to the defense, he brings spunk, he brings fire, he brings power and he brings a whole lot of leadership. He’s one of our strongest defensive players that we have out there and he loves the game.”
Offensively, the Outlaws will rely on rookie quarterback Tim Davila to lead the charge for the black and white.
“Tim is a young guy that’s hopefully going to be around for a while, if he doesn’t get a couple of opportunities to play football or baseball in college,” Cross said. “He’s a young athlete that’s going to be really good in the near future, if not sooner. I have faith in him that he’s going to be a good asset to this team for years to come.”
One of Davila’s top targets has been wide out Larry McClendon – a 6-foot-2, 180-pounder who has scored a touchdown in each of the Outlaws’ three games this season.
“He has been a weapon,” Cross said. “He’s a blessing in disguise and we’re just glad to have him. He’s actually my back-up quarterback, he’s pretty mobile and can play some defense if we call his name. He’s a great asset to this team.”
Five-foot-9, 185-pound slot receiver Elijah Rhodes has also begun to emerge offensively for the Outlaws.
“He’s a young kid out of Coronado,” Cross said. “He started out a little slow this year, but he’s very, very fast. He’s a talker, but once he gets in there and shows you what he’s got, he’s a talented young kid. I really like his play on the field.”