By MIKE COTE
While the Los Alamos Hilltopper football team has already notched a pair of wins this season, its toughest contest so far will come on Friday night.
Los Alamos will travel to Bernalillo to take on a former district rival, the Spartans, at 7 p.m. Friday. That game will be broadcast live on the Los Alamos Daily Post’s YouTube channel – log in at approximately 6:30 p.m. Friday to hear the pregame show.
Not only are the Hilltoppers and the Spartans rivals from the old District 2-4A, there’s plenty of bad blood between the two schools, going back to a 95-0 win by the Hilltoppers over the Spartans in 2007.
Few players, coaches or spectators on either side have forgotten that 2007 game, played in Los Alamos, which was one of the most lopsided games in the history of high school football, one that left a very bitter taste in Bernalillo’s mouth.
Bernalillo would shut out Los Alamos 14-0 two years later. That was believed to be the Spartans’ first win in school history over Los Alamos.
Los Alamos will go into Friday’s contest with a 2-0 record on the season, having won high-scoring games two weeks in a row to start 2021.
The Hilltoppers rolled out a new-look, pass-heavy offense for 2021 and it has already paid dividends. They earned a shootout win over Española Valley in week one and then dropped Taos 35-24 in their home opener last week.
That game was delayed late in the first quarter due to nearby lightning, but Los Alamos still managed to put up 28 points in the first half. Taos had a little more success on both sides of the ball in the second half, but Los Alamos tacked on a fourth quarter touchdown to seal the victory.
Jacob Green, the Hilltoppers’ quarterback, has been on a tear so far, as has receiver Jeremiah Hartzol. The two connected for two touchdown passes in the first quarter last week ahead of the lightning to give Los Alamos an early advantage over Taos (0-2).
Bernalillo, meanwhile, also has a record of 2-0 heading into Friday’s contest. Bernalillo has yet to give up a single point on the season, shutting out Gallup 50-0 in its opener, then crushing Española Valley, the Hilltoppers’ week one opponent, 54-0 on Aug. 27.
Quarterback Jacob Pino connected on 6 of 7 pass attempts for 215 yards and 3 touchdowns against Española Valley (0-2), while running back David Llanez rushed 125 yards on just 6 carries – a whopping 20.8 yards per carry – and two touchdowns.
On defense, safety Tristen Ludi-Herrera intercepted two passes, running one back for a touchdown.
A win by the Hilltoppers Friday night could boost their current MaxPreps Class 5A ranking. The Hilltoppers are currently 15th in the rankings, despite being just one of three teams in the classification with two wins on the young season.