´Toppers thumped in playoff contest

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Football: Los Lunas needs 2-1/2 quarters to close out opening round playoff game

By Mike Cote

LOS LUNAS — The biggest thing on the side of the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team heading into Friday’s game was momentum.


That momentum, however, was dashed with one long jaunt early in the first quarter.

Los Alamos was one-and-done in the Class 4A playoffs for 2011. The powerful and lightning fast Los Lunas Tigers scored early and often against the Hilltoppers Friday night at Willie Chavez Stadium.

After forcing a quick three-and-out, Los Lunas’ Tigers needed just one play to score a 91-yard touchdown. Los Lunas running back Jalen Chavez went off-tackle and found nothing but open field in front of him, rumbling to the end zone to spark a 55-0 rout.

Los Lunas could’ve closed out the game by halftime, but chose simply to kick an extra point instead of attempt a 2-point conversion after a touchdown with 1:53 remaining in the first half — a successful conversion would’ve given the Tigers the necessary 50-point margin to end the game at the break.

The loss ended the 2011 for the Hilltoppers, who had won six of seven games to finish off the regular season and qualify for the Class 4A playoffs. Despite the strong finish, the Hilltoppers were only afforded the No. 12 seed in the postseason, pitting them against the fifth-seeded Tigers.

On the other side, the win could prove to be a jumping-off point for a big run in the postseason for the Tigers (9-2), a team that won just one game in 2009 and this year came within one game of a District 5 championship and a first-round bye.

Los Lunas, which fell to the Valencia Jaguars 13-7 in the final game of the regular season, missed out on an opportunity to be one of the top four seeded teams and earn an automatic bid into the state quarterfinals.
Unfortunately for the Hilltoppers, it seemed the Tigers took out any pent-up frustration on them Friday night.

The hard-hitting defensive front eight of the Tigers laid some big shots on the Hilltopper backfield — quarterback Danny Finn and wingback Jared Mang got the worse end of several hits in the first half — while holding the Hilltopper offense to just 77 total yards and three first downs.

Los Alamos never got on track on either side of the ball Friday night. Offensively, it was paced by fullback Arnoldo Ortiz, who had 48 yards on seven carries, the first time since mid-season Ortiz had been held to under 100 yards rushing. No other Hilltopper ballcarrier finished with even 10 yards.

Los Lunas scored a whopping eight touchdowns in 2-1/2 quarters — the game ended at the 6:03 mark of the third quarter when second-string Tiger fullback Brandon Casias bulled his way into the end zone from seven yards out.

Los Lunas quarterback Chris Wisneski threw a pair of touchdown passes Friday night and ran for a third, while Darren Gallegos had a 68-yard score with under four minutes remaining in the second quarter, putting the Tigers up 42-0 at the time.

The loss also ended the prep careers of four Hilltopper seniors: Alan Dahl, David Knapp, Nate Robbins and JD Weiss.

NOTES: In other Class 4A playoff games Friday night, the eighth-seeded Moriarty Pintos downed the ninth-seeded Deming Wildcats 42-20 and the sixth-seeded Farmington Scorpions dropped the 11th-seeded St. Pius X Sartans 34-20 …. Los Lunas will travel to Artesia to take on the fourth-seeded Bulldogs next week.

The Tigers lost a coin flip following their win Friday …. Goddard will face Moriarty in another quarterfinal game, while Farmington will play Valencia. The results of the Roswell-Grants opening round game, scheduled for Saturday, had not been announced as of press time …. The 4A playoffs were not expanded to 13 teams after a judge denied the request of Atrisco Heritage to be added to the postseason. Atrisco

Heritage claimed it was denied a chance to compete in the playoffs as the result of an improper official’s ruling at the end of its regular season finale against St. Pius.