'Toppers, Demons battle for 1st place

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By The Staff

While not officially, the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team’s season could well come down to Friday’s game.
The Hilltoppers have the biggest game of their season scheduled for Friday when they take on the Santa Fe Demons. That game is set for 7 p.m. at Ivan Head Stadium.
The winner of that game will control its own destiny for the balance of the District 2-4A season, while the loser’s odds of winning a district title become considerably longer.
Los Alamos in particular can jump right into the driver’s seat of the district standings. Following Friday’s game, it has just two very winnable games remaining, at home against Española Valley and at Capital, two teams that have struggled all season.
The Hilltoppers (2-5 overall, 1-0 in 2-4A) and the Demons (2-4, 1-0) met under identical circumstances in 2012 at Sullivan Field.
In that game, Santa Fe’s duo of quarterback Jordan Booth-Homer and tailback Anthony Abeyta combined for 305 yards and six touchdowns — one of Booth-Homer’s touchdowns was on a kick return where he was completely untouched — as the Demons pasted the Hilltoppers 62-30.
The Demons would go on to win the district title and secure the lone Class 4A playoff spot awarded to District 2. The Hilltoppers, who finished the season 6-4, were in the conversation for the final at-large bid into the playoffs but that spot was awarded to Roswell.
However, there is virtually no hope that any team from District 2 will be considered for an at-large bid this season.
Going into last week’s district openers, none of the five district teams had more than one win. The Hilltoppers were 0-4 against 4A teams before topping the winless Bernalillo Spartans last week.
Against Bernalillo, Los Alamos’ offense woke up. In its previous five games, Los Alamos managed no more than two scores in any of them, but got three touchdowns from fullback Xavier Dennison and another rushing touchdown from Sam Ortiz.
Prior to last week, the Demons had actually been faring considerably worse on that side of the ball.
Santa Fe hadn’t scored a point for three straight weeks, getting shut out by Deming, Piedra Vista and St. Michael’s in succession.
But Santa Fe topped Española Valley 27-6 in Española last week to earn its first district win.
That win came at a price, however. Demon quarterback Robert Corriz, one of its biggest offensive threats, was ejected late in that game for taunting. Because of his ejection, he is ineligible to play Friday night.
The Demons still have two effective runners, Christian Gonzales and Rayes Montaño. Gonzales averages better than 7 yards per carry and Montaño rushes for nearly 4 yards per carry.
Los Alamos head coach Garett Williams said the Demons have a stout, seasoned offensive line that his defense will have to contend with.
Hilltopper linebacker Elliot Hersman, the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year in 2-4A, had a huge game last week, including returning an interception 89 yards for a touchdown, that coming as Bernalillo threatened to go up 14-0 at the time.