Troopers grab Rams by horns; upset perfect season

Any other year, the battle of 'woods-- between rivals Eastwood and Montwood-- would have been a battle of two titans of the eastside. When the Troopers got off to a rocky start early in the year, and as the date drew closer, it seemed the final game of the season would be an anticlimactic easy win for the Rams who had already clinched the 1-6A district title. Montwood had a perfect, dominant season, going 9-0 and climbing state and local rankings with every passing game. When the date arrived, and the sun began to set over the Socorro Activities Complex, everything seemed perfect and the Rams fairy tale season would finish as expected. That is until the Troopers scored, and their hopes of an undefeated campaign started to unravel.

The Troopers stormed out of the gate behind senior running back Alfredo Contreras who would score twice that night. The first quarter ended 7-6. The game was still too early to call. With the start of the second quarter, the Troopers marched down the field behind senior quarterback Seth Ochoa. With Montwood now down 14-6. The game then showed signs of becoming a shootout as the score rose to 21-14. The Rams needed to bounce back on their next drive Head Coach Julio Lopez and the Troopers had different ideas and kicked and recovered an onside kick. They scored once again with only forty seconds left in the half. The score was now 28-14 and the Rams showed flashes of their top-ranked offense making it right to the goal line, ready to charge in and close the gap.

Lopez called a timeout. and after the brief conference with the team, the Rams stared down the Troopers at the goal line, ready to recover their quickly crumbling dream. As the ball was snapped and the Montwood running back charged into the Trooper defensive line, but the play ended with senior Edson Hernandez in possession of the recovered fumble. The first half ended with a now electrified Trooper sideline and fan section, 28-14.

Montwood opened the third quarter with a 70 yard touchdown drive to close the gap to 28-21. This would be the beginning of the end for the Rams as they would not score again. The Troopers tacked on another touchdown bringing the game to 35-21 when Ochoa connected with junior wide receiver Eddie Cruz for his second touchdown.

By this point, the SAC was shaking with chants from both Troopers and Rams fans alike. Putting together a drive plagued by penalties on both sides, the Rams got to the 11 yard line and with the snap, Montwood took a shot at the end zone. The ball sailed through the air and a quiet fell over the SAC as it seemed the Rams still had hope. Until cornerback Isaiah Bradford came out of nowhere and picked off the last string of hope the Rams had. The Trooper student section exploded with echoes of a past battle cry with a ferocity that had been in the making all season, “I believe. I believe that we. I believe that we just won!”

The Troopers marched down the field scoring again bringing the score to 41-21 with seven minutes left in the game. The Rams attempted to bring the game back, but it seemed their perfect season had run into the wall that is the Trooper defense. The Troopers tacked on one more touchdown behind Contreras on a 2-yard run to seal the victory.

What started out as a perfect conclusion to a perfect season turned out to be a nightmare for the Rams. As the mighty Troopers decided to conclude their season with a perfect game of their own.