Kirtland vs. Lutheran West football: Energetic Hornets throttle Longhorns, 49-14

Aug. 26—A lack of electricity forced the Kirtland football team to push its home opener from its originally scheduled date of Aug. 25.

When the Hornets finally were able to take the field for their home opener against Lutheran West on Aug. 26, there was no shortage of electricity in the light poles OR on the field.

Taking advantage of momentum provided by their first game on the new artificially turfed Wilson Stadium, Kirtland throttled Lutheran West, 49-14, to improve to 2-0 and run the Hornets' regular-season winning streak to 56 games.

"It feels great," senior Will Sayle of the electric atmosphere of the renovated stadium. "Obviously on the turf field we can play a lot better. There's a new speaker system, loud music... yeah, it was really fun."

After a pregame ceremony that included a ribbon-cutting to christen the revamped stadium, the Hornets wasted no time in taking Lutheran West out of the game. A squib kick to start the game bounced high off the turf and was recovered by the Hornets.

Touchdown @kirtlandFB . Rocco Alfieri for his third score of the night. With 8:06 in the half, the Hornets lead @LW_Athletics 21-7.

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) August 26, 2023

That set up a four-yard touchdown run by Rocco Alfieri, one of four first-half touchdown runs by the senior running back.

The @kirtlandFB Defense stops @LW_Athletics on fourth down, then Rocco Alfieri goes in from 38 for his fourth TD of the game. With 5:45 in the half, Kirtland leads 28-7.

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) August 26, 2023

"It was very important to kind of bury them early and take the momentum away from them so they didn't have anything to build off of," Coach Tiger LaVerde said. "Anytime you let a team hang around, they start to get comfortable and that's when you can get upset."

There was no danger of that on this night. Even though Lutheran West got on the board early in the second quarter on a 33-yard touchdown run by Da'Quarius Bradley — which came right after a 7-yard scoring jaunt by Alfieri — the Longhorns struggled to slow down the Kirtland offensive juggernaut.

Alfieri scored two more touchdowns in the second, including a 38-yarder, to give him 126 yards rushing in the first half alone. And when Sayle picked off a pass and took it to the house from 23 yards out late in the second quarter, Kirtland had a 35-7 lead and was firmly in control.

"I saw (the receiver) run a short route," Sayle said. "Our corner (Jake LaVerde) flew up, the ball came out and I just made a play."

The Hornets continued to pile it on in the third. After a long run by Will Beers put the Hornets near the goal line, MacGuire Boyd bulled in for the score. Then after the Kirtland defense held Lutheran West on fourth down, Gino Blasini went untouched 71 yards for a touchdown on his only carry of the night.

"My line did a great job," Blasini said. "I trust my speed and I found the end zone."

Touchdown @kirtlandFB . Macguire Boyd 1 run set up by Willie Beers' long run, it's now 42-7 early third. #RunningClock.

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) August 27, 2023

Up 49-7, LaVerde inserted the reserves for the rest of the game. Lutheran West tacked on a late score against the Kirtland backups, but the game was already well within hand.

The performance, LaVerde said, was much more crisp than in the Week 1 victory over Dalton, which came down to the end with the Hornets holding on for a 14-7 win.

"You usually make the most improvement from Week 1 to Week 2," LaVerde said. "I thought our offensive line made a huge improvement. They were way, way, way better than last week."

Alfieri agreed after his huge first half of running the ball.

"There were a lot of big holes," he said. "I couldn't complain."

Gino Blasini 71 run, with 2:32 in the third @kirtlandFB leads @LW_Athletics 49-7.

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) August 27, 2023

Beers (106 yards) supplemented Alfieri's 126 and Blasini's 71, part of Kirtland's 343 yards rushing on only 31 attempts. Jake LaVerde completed two of three passes for 29 yards. Most of Lutheran West's 299 yards came in the second half when the outcome of the game was well in hand.

"We were a lot better this week than last week," Alfieri said. "Our offense got into it a little more today and our defense played really good."

Next up for the Hornets is a visit from Perry. The Pirates blanked Harvey, 33-0, this week and are now 2-0 while outscoring their two foes by a combined score of 65-7.

. @kirtlandFB wins, so Beeler Dances...

— News-Herald preps (@NHPreps) August 27, 2023

"We've got a big week of preparation," Alfieri said. "That's going to be our toughest game of the year. We're looking forward to Perry."