Hilltoppers upended by Del Norte

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By Phil Scherer

In recent years, the Los Alamos High School varsity football team has had trouble containing the offensive attack of Del Norte High School, going winless against the Knights since moving into the same district in 2014.

That trend continued Friday night at Sullivan Field, as the Hilltoppers fell 51-25.

Del Norte jumped out to a lead early, as they moved down the field with ease on their first drive thanks to the running ability of quarterback Christian Mejia and running back Aaris Curtis, who put the Knights on top 7-0 with a 2-yard touchdown run.

The Hilltoppers answered back immediately, as quarterback Kayden Rivera connected with Walker Eaton on a long pass play to set up first-and-goal. Running back Preston Brown, who stepped in for the injured Ryan McNeil, scored the first touchdown of his career on the next play, knotting the score 7-7.

Momentum appeared to shift firmly in the direction of the Knights following the score, as Mejia scored on a quarterback keeper to put Del Norte back on top 14-7, and then Del Norte forced a quick punt by the Hilltoppers on their next possession.

Things changed following the Knights’ next possession, however, as LAHS forced Del Norte into a punting situation near their own goal line.

The punt was blocked by LAHS’ Carson Schramm, who recovered it in the end zone for a Hilltopper touchdown. After the extra point attempt was missed, LAHS trailed 14-13.

Schramm, who played defense for McNeil, played an all-around great game on both sides of the ball, tackling Del Norte runners consistently.

From that point forward, the Knights seized complete control, scoring twice more in the second quarter to head into the locker room with a 28-13 lead.

Things continued to go poorly for the Hilltoppers following the intermission, as they gave up two points on a safety on their first possession of the second half, and allowed a touchdown to the Knights on the possession that followed as their deficit swelled to 37-13.

The home crowd was brought to its feet for a moment at the end of the third quarter, as Rivera threw a screen pass to

Jack Stewart, who escaped defenders on his way to a 54-yard touchdown, cutting the deficit to 37-19.

Del Norte would add two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, and the Hilltoppers would score one on a 32-yard run by Dylan Irish as Del Norte won 51-25.

For parts of the game, Rivera was in at quarterback while Irish played fullback behind him.

This allowed the Hilltoppers to better utilize Irish’s running ability, while keeping Ruvera, the better passer, in the game.

The loss drops the Hilltopper record to 4-3, and 0-1 in district play. The team will return to action on the road against Albuquerque Academy Saturday at noon.

Academy enters the game with a 2-5 overall record, and 1-0 in district after defeating Española Valley 40-20 last week.