LA blanks Bernalillo 38-0 in Friday’s District 2-4A opener

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Football: ’Toppers, Demons will face off Friday in huge game for both teams

It isn’t going to take long for the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team to figure out where it stands in the District 2-4A race.
With its first two district games against two of the three main contenders in the race, Los Alamos could come within two very winnable games of clinching 2-4A by Friday of this week.
The Hilltoppers took their first big step toward that goal Friday night by routing the Bernalillo Spartans.
Los Alamos scored a pair of touchdowns in the opening quarter and a third touchdown early in the second quarter to start what would become a 38-0 rout of the Bernalillo Spartans at Sullivan Field.
The win gave the Hilltoppers their first victory over the Spartans since 2008 and puts them within one game of taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the district race with only games against the struggling Española Valley Sundevils and Capital Jaguars to claim the 2-4A crown.
Its biggest remaining hurdle to a potential district title is Santa Fe’s Demons. The Demons crushed Española Valley 51-0 in the other 2-4A contest Friday.
Los Alamos and Santa Fe will meet Friday night at Ivan Head Stadium in a game that could well decide the district title for the 2011 season.
Bernalillo, the two-time defending district champ, which held off Los Alamos in a tight ballgame in 2010, 24-21, had a very similar nondistrict season as the Hilltoppers heading into Friday night’s rain-soaked contest.
Bernalillo had struggled against some solid competition but looked to be turning things around, including picking up its first win a week earlier over Piedra Vista.
But Friday’s game was all Los Alamos.
“We executed real well,” said Hilltopper Jared Mang. “We were opening holes on offense, we had a shut-down defense. If we do that, we’ll be fine.”
Los Alamos’ running game, coming off a huge performance the week before in a win over Albuquerque Academy, picked right up where it left off. Fullback Arnoldo Ortiz topped his career-best total of 200 yards against Academy with 206 yards on 25 carries and three touchdowns. Mang, who had 86 yards and three touchdowns against Academy, added 36 yards on seven carries and scored a touchdown against the Spartans.
Defensively, Los Alamos slowed down a very good runner in Bernalillo’s DeVante Thomas. Thomas, the Spartans’ quarterback coming off a 167-yard effort a week earlier was held to just 83 yards on 20 carries, although Thomas had the bulk of two big runs wiped out by penalties.
For the game, Bernalillo (1-5) posted just 122 yards total offense, while Los Alamos (3-4) rolled up 352 yards on a night where not much yardage in the air was to be had.
Seth Drop scored on a 39-yard run early in the first quarter after Bernalillo’s defense bit on a fake to Oritz. Less than a minute later, following a turnover deep in Spartan territory, Ortiz scored from a yard out to put the Hilltoppers up 14-0.
Ortiz would tack on scores in the third and fourth quarter as well.
It was a tough night for ballhandlers Friday, with the teams combining to put 11 balls on the ground. Los Alamos lost just one of its five fumbles Friday while Bernalillo mishandled six balls, four of which were recovered by the Hilltoppers. Mang and Jake Downs also picked off passes in the first half.