LA pitches shutout for homecoming

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Football: ’Toppers score twice in 1st quarter, win 34-0

By Mike Cote

For the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team to have success down the stretch, it must find consistent offensive production.
It certainly found some against Kirtland Central.
Los Alamos picked up some big chunks of yardage Friday night in its 2012 homecoming contest, taking on the Kirtland Central Broncos, both on the ground and through the air. Los Alamos rolled up 388 yards total offense and scored two touchdowns in the opening quarter to set the tone, rolling to a 34-0 victory at Sullivan Field.
The Hilltoppers took the opening possession of the game and drove 72 yards to paydirt, then Clint Adams blocked a Kirtland Central punt attempt late in the first quarter, setting the Hilltoppers up at the Bronco 13-yard line. Receiver Seth Drop went in one play later on an end around with 1:50 remaining to give the Hilltoppers a 13-0 advantage at the time.
Drop, who had a big game Friday night, said it was important for the Hilltoppers to set the tone early.
“We got that first score in, we were making plays,” Drop said. “Everybody executed. The last couple of games we haven’t executed.”
Prior to the big victory Friday, Los Alamos had been shut out for two straight contests.
Going eight straight quarters without a score prompted Los Alamos head coach Garett Williams to shuffle some personnel around.
Friday, Collin Nickless got the starting nod at left tackle and Jonathan Schueler got the start at right guard.
While Hilltopper quarterback Brice Van Etten said afterward there are still plenty of issues to work out, Los Alamos’ offense rolled along well.
Los Alamos’ workhorse, Arnoldo Ortiz, had one of the better outings of the young 2012 season Friday. He toted the ball 23 times for 139 yards and three touchdowns.
Ortiz scored from 11 yards out to cap the Hilltoppers’ opening drive, bouncing from the middle to the right side and into the end zone. Ortiz’s 7-yard touchdown run, going off left tackle, put the Hilltoppers up 22-0 midway through the second quarter to finish off an 8-play, 51-yard drive.
For the game, Los Alamos finished with 286 yards on the ground.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t all good news for the Hilltopper backs. In the second half, wing back Xavier Dennison had to be helped off the field with an apparent leg injury and didn’t return.
Friday’s win was the second straight homecoming victory for the Hilltoppers (2-2), who haven’t always been successful in their annual homecoming contests. The Hilltoppers topped Albuquerque Academy 36-20 in 2011.
On defense, Los Alamos limited Kirtland Central (0-3) to under 200 yards for the game. Kirtland Central had some success running with quarterback Rashaan Sorrelhorse who finished with 46 yards on 9 carries.
Sorrelhorse only managed a 6-for-19 pass attempt showing Friday, but his receiving corps wasn’t doing him many favors, either. The Broncos dropped five balls in the game, including a wide-open, would-be touchdown toss into the corner of the end zone, which would’ve staved off a shutout, but Sorrelhorse’s receiver couldn’t hang on.
Kirtland Central’s tailback Alex Kamae had 52 yards on 12 carries to pace his team on the ground.
Sophomore Elliott Hersman got some big licks in for the Hilltoppers playing in the middle linebacker spot, finishing with eight tackles.
Los Alamos improved to 2-0 at Sullivan Field — it topped Pojoaque handily in the season opener — but will face a stiff test this week when the No. 5-ranked Belen Eagles come to town.
Belen (3-1) fell to the top-ranked team in 4A Friday night, the Goddard Rockets, 27-7. Belen was in the game until the fourth quarter when Goddard forged a pair of touchdowns to pull away.
Los Alamos, which hasn’t traditionally been known for having the most balanced offensive attack, got some big plays through the air Friday. Van Etten connected with Drop five times 98 yards, including two 30-plus yard hookups on the Hilltoppers’ first drive of the fourth quarter, leading to a touchdown.
“There were a ton of plays tonight that really opened up the offensive playbook,” Van Etten said. “Coach (Paul) Anderson does a great job of calling plays. It was big.”