LA meets Moriarty in first round

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By Mike Cote

Following Friday’s regular season finale, Los Alamos safety Matt Zocco talked about the Hilltoppers sending a message to the Class AAAA football playoff selection committee.The message was received, but apparently not in the way Zocco or the rest of the Hilltoppers intended.After the 95-0 dismantling of the Bernalillo Spartans, Los Alamos found out Saturday night it had earned an eighth seed from the New Mexico Activities Association seeding committee.The news of the eight seed didn’t sit particularly well with the Hilltoppers.“I’m pretty disappointed we were seeded eighth,” Los Alamos head coach Bob Scott said, surmising it was punishment for the lopsidedness of the Bernalillo score. “We’re all pretty disappointed about that. That (the score) has nothing to do with how they’re seededeeI think that’s unethical.”As a result of the eighth-seed — Los Alamos ended the regular season tied for the best record in Class AAAA — Los Alamos will face ninth-seeded Moriarty in the first round of the state tournament. That game is set for 7 p.m. Friday at Sullivan Field.The big downside of the eighth seed is that, should they win, the Hilltoppers will have to face the Artesia Bulldogs in the second round. The Bulldogs have been the top-ranked team in the state throughout the season and have University of Oklahoma-bound quarterback Landry Jones at their helm.“The one nice thing is, when we play (the Bulldogs), we’ll be healthy,” Scott said.But for now, Los Alamos is fully focused on Moriarty’s Pintos.The Pintos struggled early in the regular season, dropping their first three contests, including a 17-7 loss to the Hilltoppers’ District 2AAAA foe Capital Sept. 7.Following those three season-opening losses, all on the road, Moriarty reeled off five straight wins, four of them at home.Moriarty’s most recent loss came at the hands of fourth-seeded St. Pius X in 5AAAA play Nov. 2. Moriarty closed out the season with a 35-21 win over Belen to take its district runner-up spot.There are some notable similarities between Los Alamos’ and Moriarty’s style of play, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.Moriarty is primarily a running team, and uses a setup very much like Los Alamos’ double wing. Moriarty runs a lot of traps and sweeps out of its basic offensive set, as well as a lead, one of its favorite offensive plays.Scott said he wants to take the lead — a handoff to either the fullback or the wing — away from Moriarty early, and will assign his linebackers to plug up those gaps.Should the Pintos fall behind, they could resort to a spread formation and throw.Defensively, the Pintos will likely show an odd front, and stack middle linebackers in and around their tackles. They generally keep three defensive backs deep.Scott said his team has had a good week of practice in preparation for the Pintos.“Everything’s real good right now,” he said. “That’s the nice part about it. The kids are focused. They know what we want to do and what we’ve got to do.”

NOTE: Price for admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. No passes other than NMAA-issued passes will be accepted.