Sports: Silver hands LA first loss of 2008

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By Mike Cote

Going into this week of prep football, one of the most disappointing teams in Class AAAA had been the Silver Colts.

But Friday, the Colts disappointed the Los Alamos Hilltoppers in their home opener.

The Colts jumped out to a three-touchdown lead in the first half and answered a big Hilltopper touchdown drive in the second half to win 41-14 at Sullivan Field.

The loss was the first of the season for the Hilltoppers (2-1), who struggled to get push on either side of the line of scrimmage against the girthy Silver offensive and defensive lines.

Following the loss, Hilltopper head coach Bob Scott said he drilled into his team’s head all week that Silver was about the best winless team around and the squad shouldn’t think it was going to have an easy time of it.

“They took it to us,” Scott said. “We didn’t play well. We had turnovers, we had stupid mistakes. We told them these guys are pretty good.”

For one side, it was a rough loss. For the other side, it was a badly-needed victory.

For the Colts (1-3), they were dealing with several disciplinary problems for their first three games — losses to Cobre, St. Pius X and a waxing by Oñate — but had its full roster suited and ready Friday night.

“This was big for us,” veteran Silver head coach David Carrillo said. “We had to prove ourselves against one of the state’s top teams. Coming up here, we needed to get it done…I told our kids it isn’t how we started (the season), it’s how we finish.”

The play that iced the contest for the Colts was a handoff up the middle to Silver’s bruising halfback Aaron Huerta.

The first play after a Hilltopper punt put the ball at the Silver 43-yard line, Huerta found a hole in the middle of the Hilltopper defense, roared through the Hilltopper linebackers and beat two converging defensive backs for a 57-yard score.

Huerta’s touchdown, coming with 10:39 left in the game, gave the Colts a 34-14 edge.

Los Alamos never led in Friday’s game. For the third time in three games this season, the defense allowed the opposition a first-possession score.

The defense wasn’t entirely to blame, though. After the first Hilltopper possession stalled at midfield, a punt snap slipped through the hands of Joey Martinez, who was tackled at the Hilltopper 34.

Just three plays later, Huerta took a pitch left and went 30 yards for Silver’s first score.

Silver would score twice more in the first half to take a 21-0 edge, but a grinding, well-engineered Los Alamos drive late in the second quarter got it on the scoreboard with 38.7 seconds remaining before the break.

Taking over possession at the 50, the Hilltoppers went nine plays in 2:30. The drive, which started with two big runs, one from Corey Clark and the other from Raul Rodriguez to negate a holding penalty, was capped when quarterback Zach Mang dropped an out-route pass right into Rodriguez’s arms four yards deep in the end zone.

Los Alamos very nearly lost any momentum that might have given it going into the locker room, however, when on the ensuing kickoff Montana Bencomo blasted his way through the Silver wedge and streaked down the right sideline to the Los Alamos 19. Bencomo was stopped only a touchdown-saving tackle by kicker Max Argo.

Throughout Friday’s nondistrict contest, Silver was able to make the big plays when it had to.

Silver’s defensive linemen, among them the 284-pound Joseph Dominguez, the 248-pound Chris Gonzales and the 283-pound Terrance Willis, plugged up the middle and forced the Hilltoppers to run wide.

That worked for a short time in the second half, but the Silver linebacking corps and secondary showed good ability to tackle in the open field all night, limiting the effectiveness of Clark and Rodriguez for most of the contest.

“They took advantage with their size,” Scott said. “We thought we could get outside on them, but we didn’t do a good job of executing. It’s disappointing, but we’ve got a lot of games left to go.”

It was also a rough night for the Hilltoppers injury-wise.

Go-tackle Marshall Naranjo, who had a monster game a week earlier against Santa Fe, was carried off the field in the first half. In the second half, Stuart Rupprecht had to be carted off following a kickoff.

Both Naranjo and Rupprecht suffered knee injuries. The extent of those injuries, however, wasn’t known after the game.

On the game’s final series, Mang was leveled on a pass attempt and may have suffered a slight concussion. Ryan Schleft tried to get the ball into the end zone on the last drive, but time expired.