Football: LA wins big over Capital but loses out on 2-4A title

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By Mike Cote

While the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team closed its season out on a high note Friday, it wasn’t as high of a note as it was hoping for.
In its season finale Friday night at Sullivan Field, the Hilltoppers blasted the Capital Jaguars 47-14. The Hilltoppers scored 40 points in the first half of the District 2AAAA contest and liberally shuffled in its sub-varsity call-ups for the bulk of the second half to earn the victory.
Los Alamos, which took its lumps during the nondistrict season, ended 2010, its first season under the tutelage of head coach Garett Williams, it earned three straight victories to close out the season.
The win over the Jaguars, however, wasn’t enough for the Hilltoppers to earn a District 2AAAA title this season. The other part of that equation, a victory by Santa Fe over district-leading Bernalillo, didn’t materialize, with Bernalillo’s Spartans picking up a decisive 42-14 victory.
Bernalillo’s program, on the brink of extinction for several seasons, has been reincarnated by head coach Ken Noel, who led his team to its second straight 2AAAA title, the only two district titles the school has won in its history.
Williams said it was disappointing that the Hilltoppers couldn’t end the regular season with a district title, but knew the Hilltoppers had their shot three weeks ago and couldn’t capitalize.
“You’ve got to take care of things the first time,” Williams said. “You can’t depend on other people to do it for you.”
Los Alamos (4-6 overall, 3-1 in 2AAAA) didn’t have much of a margin of error. Not only did Santa Fe have to beat Bernalillo, it had to do so by a margin of between 2 and 7 points.
Los Alamos quarterback Kory Balog, who ran for 151 yards and three touchdowns on just four carries Friday, said his team finished off the season the way it wanted to after a rough go of it early on.
“The beginning of the season was tough,” said Balog, who in all likelihood wrapped up his career Friday night. “It started horribly, but we stuck together, we bonded and we came through at the end.”
Los Alamos might still be offered an at-large invitation to the state Class AAAA playoffs, but with five losses to Class AAAA opponents – Bernalillo, Belen, Farmington, Aztec and Bloomfield – the prospect of an at-large nod is grim.
Against Capital, Balog had touchdown scurries of 30, 52 and 49 yards and also hit tight end John Janke on a 40-yard post route early in the first quarter to start the rout. Other than handing the ball off, Balog wasn’t involved in a play that covered less than 20 yards.
Los Alamos rolled up 424 yards total offense – David Brock had 90 yards on nine carries, all in the first half, and youngster Xavier Dennison rushed for 51 yards on seven carries – despite Capital (1-7 overall, 1-2 in 2AAAA) finishing with a nearly 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession.
For the Jaguars, whose lone win of the season came against hapless Española Valley, they lost about half their roster to ineligibility earlier this week.
Despite playing with 20 players, they put forth a gutsy effort. Anthony Segura played well subbing in for injured quarterback Patrick Gutierrez, connecting on 10 of 17 passes for 55 yards and rushing 18 times for 91 yards.