Amarillo High beats down Lubbock Monterey to clinch playoff berth

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Amarillo High wide receiver Connor Haelzle tries to evade a Lubbock Monterey defender during a District 2-5A Division I clash in Lubbock on Thursday night. [Autumn Bippert/ HubCity Preps]
A strong finish to the end of the regular season led to a strong start for the Amarillo High Sandies on Thursday night and landed them back in the playoffs for the 14th straight season.

Amarillo High jumped on Lubbock Monterey with two touchdowns late in the first quarter and were in control the rest of the way, as the Sandies ended their regular season with a huge road win, beating the Plainsmen 35-14 to clinch a playoff spot in District 2-5A Division I.

Coupled with Lubbock Coronado’s identical score loss to Tascosa on Thursday, the Sandies (5-5, 3-3 in district) sewed up a playoff spot by beating Monterey (0-10, 0-6). Not only that, but they’ll be the No. 3 seed in the district and go on the road to face a school from El Paso next week to open the playoffs.

AHS is the No. 3 seed by virtue of winning all possible tiebreakers with Abilene High (which had already clinched a postseason berth) and Caprock. Abilene will be the No. 4 postseason seed and Caprock, which hosts Lubbock-Cooper on Friday, has been eliminated with Amarillo High’s win.

The Sandies were 1-3 in district with two games to go and little margin for error. They beat Abilene 17-10 a week earlier to give themselves a chance to make the playoffs against Monterey, and they made the most of it.

JQ Ervin scored touchdowns via three separate manners against Monterey. He opened the scoring with a 24-yard scoring catch from Will Flaming, and only 73 seconds later on defense, recovered a fumble and returned it 6 yards for a score, giving the Sandies a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

Jaden Hibbler, who carried the Plainsmen offensively, got Monterey on the board with the first of his two touchdowns in the second quarter from 1 yard out to cut it to 14-7. But Monterey got no closer.

The Sandies pretty much put the game away with two touchdowns in the last 4 ½ minutes of the first half on scoring runs by Mason Graham and Eddy Mpela. Ervin scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter to end Amarillo High’s scoring and ensure the Sandies they’d continue their season next week.

Hibbler ran for 115 yards on 17 carries, but Amarillo High held Monterey to 190 total yards of offense.

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