DALLAS — The Alvarado Indians rolled to their sixth consecutive victory with a 55-7 win Thursday night over Dallas Hillcrest at Franklin Stadium.
Alvarado (6-2) officially clinched a playoff berth and remained in the driver’s seat in District 8-4A Division I with a 4-0 mark in league play.
The Indians had little trouble against the Panthers (6-3, 2-3), building a 21-0 lead after the first quarter and a 41-0 lead by halftime.
It was the fourth consecutive game to open district where the Indians built a big lead early, also jumping out to leads of 28-0 vs. Dallas Carter, 21-0 vs. North Dallas and 14-0 vs. Carrollton Ranchview.
“The way our kids have responded with their preparation and how it isn’t about really anybody but us is what impresses me,” Alvarado head coach Jeff Dixon said. “It’s not about who we’re playing. We continue to stay locked in and see the big picture. When we could play sloppy because we’re coming off an open week, or it’s pouring down rain, or we’re having to travel. But we played with class, we played with precision and we played with a sense of we’re going to do our job no matter who we’re playing. It’s fun to watch. They’ve done that now for four weeks in a row. That part makes me more proud than anything.”
Alvarado had three players — Colby Sampson, Isaiah Hernandez and William Labermeier — rush for at least 100 yards in the win as the Indians racked up 379 rushing yards and amassed 445 total yards.
“Our O-line is pretty impressive,” Dixon said. “The kids we have toting the mail aren’t bad either. William Labermeier could’ve been playing on JV and getting a bunch of carries the last three weeks but he understood the need to move up and be a relief guy because he’s a team player. I like that we were able to give him some carries. He’s talented. He has vision and he’s quick as a cat and he can accelerate as fast as anybody I’ve seen. I’m glad he had a chance.
“And Isaiah is the glue. He’s as good of a blocker that we’ve had at fullback and he catches the ball well. He’s very selfless and very much a team guy. When we’re able to reward him by dotting the I and getting some carries is good. He’s our No. 2 tailback and he’s very good. I’m glad he had a good day.”
The Alvarado defense completely shut down Hillcrest, holding the Panthers to 61 total yards and only two first downs.
“Take two plays away and they have negative 12 yards on the night,” Dixon said. “Our defense is playing with energy. They’re playing fast. They’re creating turnovers. And they’re having fun. That’s a combination that we’ve kind of missed. We were playing defense like this in 2011, so it’s good to see that same kind of energy back.”
Sampson got the Indians on the board with a 39-yard touchdown run less than 2 minutes into play. Then Sampson scored from a yard out for a 14-0 lead.
Alvarado senior quarterback Josh Syrus connected with wide receiver Jacob McCullough on a 22-yard TD pass to give the Indians a 21-0 advantage in the first quarter.
The Indians continued adding to their lead in the second quarter on a 14-yard TD run by Hernandez, a 14-yard TD run by Labermeier and a five-yard TD run by Labermeier to bring the score to 41-0 by halftime.
In the third quarter, Alvarado’s Jacob Wall scored on a four-yard run to push the Indians’ lead to 48-0.
The Panthers got on the board with a 48-yard TD pass from Gabriel Granados to Jayden De Los Reyes — 48 of Hillcrest’s 61 total yards coming on the one play.
In the fourth, Alvarado’s Austin Thompson added a two-yard TD run to produce the game’s final outcome.
Hernandez led Alvarado with 125 rushing yards and a TD on just eight carries. Sampson had 120 rushing yards and two TDs on just 10 carries. And Labermeier rushed for 100 yards and two scores on 11 attempts.
Sampson’s 120-yard effort on just 10 carries brings his season total to 1,761 rushing yards on the season — 239 yards away from a rare 2,000-yard regular season.
“That will take care of itself,” Dixon said of Sampson closing in on that milestone mark. “Right now, our sights are on hanging a gold ball on our district champions wall in the field house, which we haven’t done since 2011. We’re determined on making that happen, and, in the process, Colby will hit that number. It will take care of itself.”
With Thursday’s win, the Indians clinched their 12th consecutive postseason appearance, the longest active streak in Johnson County. And on Nov. 1, Alvarado will try to clinch its first district title since 2011 when the Indians host Wilmer-Hutchins.
“It’s good for our program that it’s a yearly expectation to get into the postseason,” Dixon said. “That part is good to secure a playoff spot. The district title part — what an opportunity to clinch that on senior night, last home game for seniors, at our place against Wilmer-Hutchins, who upset us a year ago. You couldn’t write a script any better for our season.”
Alvarado has outscored its first four district opponents by a combined 193-27 this season.