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SANTA FE – It didn’t seem to be a likely scenario in mid-September.
Now, in late October, it has come to pass. Or, more accurately, it has come to rush.
Putting together an impressive run in District 2-4A, the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team capped off a perfect district season with a 50-0 clubbing of the Capital Jaguars.
Los Alamos rolled up 303 rushing yards in just one half Friday night at Jaguar Field. Arnoldo Ortiz and Xavier Dennison duplicated their feat of rushing for 100 yards-plus in about a quarter’s worth of work that they pulled off a week earlier, with Dennison going for 112 yards on just four carries in the second quarter and Ortiz earning 109 yards on 11 carries in just a little over 14 minutes of play.
But the story of the night was the Hilltopper defense. The Hilltoppers penetrated the Capital offensive line on nearly every Jaguar offensive snap and had the Jaguars in negative-yardage territory for much of the first half.
On the third play from scrimmage in the second half, Ortiz stepped in front of an attempted sideline pass and ran in from 31 yards to give the Hilltoppers the mercy-rule win.
“They came out and played with intensity like they have been,” Hilltopper head coach Garett Williams said of his defensive unit. “They’re playing with confidence and they’re playing with intensity.”
With Friday’s win, Los Alamos (6-4 overall, 4-0 in 2-4A) qualified for the Class 4A playoffs.Nevertheless, after a 1-4 start to the season, it didn’t appear Los Alamos was going to have much of a shot at a playoff berth, let alone running the district table.
“We were just tired of losing,” said Hilltopper captain David Knapp, who had two quarterback pressures and a deflected pass from his linebacker position. “The mentality of the four seniors started to rub off on everyone else. The younger guys understood that when they’re seniors, the same thing is going to be expected of them.”
Clint Adams had a big night for the Hilltoppers, picking up a pair of sacks and had two other tackles-for-loss in the contest. Adams and the rest of the Hilltopper defensive line held the Jaguars to minus-9 yards total offense until a crazy play midway in the second quarter when a Jaguar fumble was knocked forward twice and recovered by the Jaguars for a 30-yard gain.
On offense, Los Alamos quarterback Danny Finn rushed for a pair of touchdowns as Los Alamos scored 36 points in the second quarter.
Finn, a freshman who didn’t even expect to start at quarterback this season, has led Los Alamos to six victories in seven games and a playoff berth.
“It’s huge,” said Finn. “It’s so great. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”
Dennison, who came in at fullback in relief of Ortiz early in the second quarter, went 38 yards for a touchdown on his first touch of the game. Late in the quarter, he went off-tackle right untouched for a 57-yard score.
For the contest, Los Alamos averaged 13.8 yards per carry.
It wasn’t all great news for the Hilltoppers Friday, however.
The Hilltoppers were slapped with nine penalties – mostly false-starts and illegal procedures – and the Hilltopper special teams continued to struggle, muffing a punt and missing a pair of extra-point attempts.