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Football ready to begin season

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By Phil Scherer

Tonight, some of the questions revolving around the Los Alamos High School varsity football team will be answered.

It has been an offseason of transition for the team, which lost two of its biggest weapons, Nick Quartieri and Kevin Maresca, to graduation. This year’s team will have to make up for the more than 1,000 all-purpose yards that Maresca provided last season, and replace Quartieri at quarterback and on defense, where he led the team with 101 tackles.

That quest begins tonight on the road against Pojoaque Valley at 7 p.m.

The team enters this season with 12 juniors and 11 seniors after losing 11 seniors after last season.

The two biggest offensive weapons returning from last year’s team are senior Ryan McNiel and junior Dylan Irish. Last year, McNiel ran for 261 yards and two touchdowns, while Irish ran for 371 yards and two touchdowns.

It appears that Irish will be given the first opportunity to take over for Quartieri at quarterback. Irish has never played quarterback before, and has spent this offseason learning the position.

He will be tasked with taking over the Hilltoppers’ triple-option offense, where his experience as a fullback should come in handy.

His lack of experience as a passer does not appear like it will be much of an issue for the team, which only passed the ball 108 times in 10 games last season.

Instead, the team relies heavily on its running game, which should be strong.

In addition to Irish and McNiel, the team also has junior Cade Yost and senior Jack Stewart in the backfield, allowing the team to spread the carries among multiple running backs and avoid over-using any of them.

Last year, LAHS defeated Pojoaque Valley 63-24, with Irish and McNiel playing key roles.

Irish ran for nearly 100 yards and a touchdown, while McNiel added 54 rushing yards on five carries.

The two of them figure to be big factors in this year’s contest as well.

After this game, the Hilltoppers will play in their home opener next Friday against Moriarty High School.

The game will take place at Sullivan Field at 7 p.m.