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The Santa Fe Demons aren't shouting it from the rooftops, but they know tonight's game is humongous for them.
Santa Fe will take on Los Alamos tonight at Sullivan Field in what is the biggest football game of the season for both teams. Kickoff time is 7 p.m.
For the second year in a row, the Demons will get a crack at an outright District 2-4A championship and one must wonder, with a talented senior class this year, if this is going to be the Demons' best shot at ending a nearly 30-year playoff drought.
"We have a lot of kids back and this year we've improved," Santa Fe head coach Ray Holladay said. "This year we've seen large improvements."
Holladay, who has been guiding the Santa Fe program for four years, has two very talented runners on his team, quarterback Jordan Booth-Homer and tailback Anthony Abeyta.
Booth-Homer, who struggled earlier this season but has developed a better passing game to accompany his potentially lethal running game, will be key on offense for Santa Fe tonight.
"He's playing much better," Holladay said of his quarterback, who had one of his best throwing games last week, going 5-for-9 for 137 yards, a touchdown and an interception. "We come in emphasizing running the ball. We've been trying to get Jordan out in space so he has that run threat first."
The Demons (2-4, 1-0) and Hilltoppers (4-3, 1-0) have played back-to-back wild affairs in the past two years. The Demons had a chance to upset the Hilltoppers at home in 2010 but a late dropped pass at the goal line cost the Demons that contest, and the Hilltoppers prevailed despite a crazy finish in the 2011 game at Ivan Head Stadium.
Los Alamos is playing the most consistent football in the district and Santa Fe knows it. Holladay said if his team is going to prevail tonight, it must avoid giving up the big plays, such as Los Alamos' 95-yard touchdown from quarterback Brice Van Etten to slotback Seth Drop that broke the back of the Bernalillo Spartans last week.
"I've watched four of Los Alamos' games and most of their scores come off big plays," Holladay said. "That's the thing about the option. You bide your time and you wait for the defense to make mistakes."
The winner of tonight's game will have a big leg up in the race for the 2-4A championship and that coveted accompanying playoff spot. The Demons will be well motivated, knowing this is a golden opportunity to get back into the playoffs, something that none of Demon players who played in the last 10 years have seen in their lifetimes.