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Albuquerque High snaps record losing streak, blasts Highland

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W.

Box scores have no emotion.

Standings have no column for compassion.

The identity of the Albuquerque High School football team for the better part of the past four years, fair or not, has been defined by results.

And for a state-record 43 consecutive games, the Bulldogs were simply known around New Mexico as that team that kept losing.

On Friday night at Milne Stadium, a group of kids not even in high school the last time the Bulldogs won a game forged a new identity, blowing out the Highland Hornets 47-8.

“That streak, that never was our identity. At least not to us,” senior offensive lineman Donny Martinez said. “We would have never got over this if we always thought of ourselves that way. That’s what these coaches convinced us to do – focus on the week ahead and the past, keep that in the past.”

The last win for AHS came on opening day of 2010, a 41-19 victory over Atrisco Heritage.

The frustrations of four-plus years of losing and 43 “keep your chins up” postgame pep talks erupted on the artificial turf of Milne Stadium on Friday night even before many of the fans had found their seats.

On the play’s opening play from scrimmage, Albuquerque High’s defense forced an errant throw from Highland quarterback Ethan Conley for an interception.

Seven plays and 55 yards later, Bulldogs quarterback Ryley Padilla found Jonathan Martinez for a 10-yard touchdown pass to open the floodgates for a dominating offensive performance for Padilla and the Bulldogs.

The junior quarterback accounted for four touchdowns – two rushing and two passing.

“We just worked on who we were playing this week and didn’t think about anything else,” Padilla said. “We just tried to do our 1/11th, as coach always says. If we do our 1/11th, we knew this is what could happen.”

The Bulldogs (1-4) jumped out to a 27-0 lead by halftime, spoiling the homecoming festivities of the host Hornets (0-5).

So bad was it for Highland, they were even flagged when they weren’t on the field, getting penalized 15 yards to start the second half for staying in the locker room too long.

The Bulldogs finished the night with 421 yards of total offense and even had a running clock going for a short time in the third quarter when they took a 41-0 lead after Padilla’s second rushing touchdown.

But Friday was hardly about statistics or scores.

“These guys, we got them to come together as a group and play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back,” first year head coach Curtis Flakes said. “We told them to play for the man next to them. That’s what it took to get this done. These kids, they’re fighters. They’ve been fighting this for four years and tonight, tonight we got to see how it works when you play for each other and not worry about any of that other stuff.

“I can’t wait to watch this group continue to grow and I can’t wait to be a part of this long term.”

Martinez hopes Flakes and his staff are around awhile, too.

“They figured out what it took,” Martinez said. “And now, we look ahead to next week.”


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