Football: Toppers blank Sundevils, 48-0

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By Mike Cote

Corey Clark made his presence felt in his first two quarters back from suspension.

Clark, a wingback for the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team, scored three times in the first half Friday as the Hilltoppers hammered the Española Valley Sundevils in an important District 2AAAA contest.

Los Alamos scored six touchdowns before the halftime break and a seventh as the third quarter expired to top the Sundevils 48-0 at Sullivan Field.

Friday’s win sets up a de-facto district championship game with the Capital Jaguars this Friday at Jaguar Field in Santa Fe. The winner will clinch the 2AAAA title and the loser will finish in second place.

Los Alamos dominated the young and struggling Española Valley squad which has won just two games this season. Los Alamos picked up the six touchdowns and 304 yards of offense in the first half to just 34 yards and three first downs, one coming on a Hilltopper penalty.

Clark, who missed a month’s worth of games but was allowed to practice during his suspension time, ran the ball four times for 85 yards in the first half. He didn’t make an appearance in the second half, which was played entirely under the running-clock mercy rule.

Hilltopper quarterback Zach Mang fired a laser shot to Clark on a seam route down the left hashmark for a 50-yard score. Clark would later take a handoff at the Española Valley 43 cut back to his left and go into the end zone untouched for the Hilltoppers’ third score of the contest.

Just before halftime on an Española Valley punt, Clark escaped a wall of Sundevils and went 66 yards down the right sideline for his third touchdown of the half.

While the win was a comfortable one for the Hilltoppers (6-3 overall, 3-0 in 2AAAA), the first quarter started out a little shaky.

Española Valley, which had first possession in the game, was shifting into punt formation on fourth-and-21, but the shift caused the Hilltoppers to jump offsides. While Española Valley was still in the unenviable position of fourth-and-16, a high snap and pressure up the middle by Los Alamos made Sundevil punter Rob Cutter, who is also the team’s quarterback, pull the ball down and run down the right sideline.

Cutter dove for the first-down marker and made it across, giving the Sundevils a fresh set of downs, but he wouldn’t have been close if not for the penalty.

On Los Alamos’ first possession, tailback Raul Rodriguez fumbled at the Española Valley 14, his third fumble in the last two games.

Rodriguez, who has been hampered by a severe ankle sprain for a month, finished the game with 46 yards on six carries.

On the next possession, Mang, who also fumbled on the first drive, scored Los Alamos ‘ first touchdown, diving in from a yard out with 2:51 remaining in the first quarter.

Mang was a perfect 4-for-4 throwing Friday for 131 yards. He gave way to backup quarterback Ryan Schleft in the second half.

David Brock, who had been backing up Clark during his absence, had 64 yards on just three carries Friday, while Nick White ran the ball six times for 30 yards in the second half.

NOTES: Friday night was the final home game of the regular season for the Hilltopper seniors. They were honored in a pre-game ceremony ... Capital, the reigning 2AAAA champion, was idle this week ... Weston Osborn made six of seven extra point attempts Friday. Los Alamos hadn’t scored a point-after or 2-point conversion try in the previous two weeks … The win was the fourth straight for Los Alamos and the second district win by a 48-0 score. Los Alamos topped Taos 48-0 to open the district season.