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Longtime assistant coach Don Reid offered a nugget of advice to one of the younger players on the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team prior to Monday’s practice.
“It’s much more fun to give big hits than to take them.”
It was a lesson that the Hilltoppers (1-1) may have learned all too well last week and one they’re hoping not to have to relearn as they head into their first road trip of the 2010 season.
Los Alamos will take on its second-straight ranked opponent this week when it heads northeast to play Farmington.
Going into Friday’s game at Hutchison Stadium — game time is set for 7 p.m. –— the Hilltoppers are coming off a 52-0 drubbing at the hands of Aztec.
Aztec’s Tigers, who boast one of the most powerful passing attacks in New Mexico and a defense that’s as stingy as any in Class AAAA, were in the driver’s seat the entire night last Friday. They failed to score on just one of their offensive drives and racked up more than 400 yards total offense in about 3-1/2 quarters.
The game ended early, with Los Alamos becoming one of the first teams in the state to be on the short end of a newly-instituted mercy rule, whereby games end as soon as one team grabs a 50-point lead.
Los Alamos’ big goal heading into Monday’s practice was to simply put that game behind them.
“I think we moved on that night,” said Los Alamos running back and defensive back David Brock of the Aztec game. “The next day we came in and watched the game film. Coach told us what we needed to fix and we’re doing that already.”
The remnants of a tough preseason and a tough game against Aztec were visible at the team’s workout Monday, however, with just 16 players suiting up for practice, while nearly half-again that number were sitting on the sidelines with injuries.
Along with Friday’s game being the first road contest for the Hilltoppers this season, it’s also the first road trip the team will take with new head coach Garett Williams.
Williams, who spent two years as an assistant with the team prior to taking over for 20-year veteran Bob Scott, said the scouting report on Farmington’s Scorpions is that they’re big and they like to grind out yards on offense.
Farmington (2-0) has won both its games handily this season over a pair of other Class AAAA schools. Farmington thumped Gallup in its opener two weeks ago, then last week knocked off Bernalillo, one of Los Alamos’ District 2AAAA rivals.
Bernalillo, which is the reigning champ of the district, fell 47-21 at home to the Scorpions, who are ranked fifth in the New Mexico High School Coaches Association poll, up one spot from last week.
This will be the second-straight year the Hilltoppers will travel to Farmington. Just a week prior to their most important District 2AAAA game of the 2009 season, the Hilltoppers took a 35-0 drubbing at Hutchison Stadium at the hands of the Scorpions.
The Scorpions, who play in the highly competitive District 1AAAA along with the Tigers, often employ an unbalanced line of scrimmage on offense and will use the wishbone, an offensive set with three running backs set up directly behind and to the right and left of the quarterback.
Farmington may look to run the quarterback option out of that set and much of the defensive portion of Monday’s practice focused on getting the defensive ends and outside linebackers to their proper spots to take away Farmington’s option capabilities.
Senior Kory Balog, who might also be busy from his safety spot this week, said keeping the Farmington offense in check is of utmost concern for the Hilltoppers.
“Their quarterback’s a good runner,” he said. “He’s a good option player. We have to make sure we close down on him.”
Farmington quarterback Daniel Lacey and running back Shawn Gonzales put on an impressive show in the team’s first game of the season, a 53-13 pasting of the Gallup Bengals, who dropped this season from Class 5A to 4A.
Gonzales rushed for better than 200 yards and three touchdowns in the season opener for the Scorpions.
Offensively, Los Alamos will be looking for a performance more on-par with its season opener against Pojoaque, which Los Alamos won 40-0.
In that contest, the Hilltoppers ran for 220 yards on the ground and 274 yards total offense. Balog, the team’s quarterback, had 96 yards on 14 carries as well as throwing for 54 yards and a pair of touchdowns.