Littleton’s high-school football team is unbeaten and off to a 3-0 start this season.
No, that’s not a misprint, a typo or mistake.
Littleton routed Alameda International, 74-0, on Sept. 8 at Trailblazer Stadium to remain unbeaten.
A 3-0 record is not unusual for many Colorado football teams but it is for the Lions who have won only one game in the past three seasons.
Littleton’s last winning campaign was 6-4 in the 2009-10 season and the Lions have been only 3-43 over the past five seasons, including 1-25 over the past three years.
And the rout over Alameda with a running clock started early in the third quarter was something that has been reversed in the past. Last season, the Lions were on the short end of five mercy-rule game scores.
“It’s been amazing,” admitted senior quarterback Timmy Higgins. “It has been great in the school. We are getting a lot of recognition. The teachers and students are looking at us a lot different. We’re loving it.”
Coach Ricky Manzanares claims it has been the hard work of the players that has made a big difference.
“We had a good crop of guys that just wouldn’t stop working in the off season,” said Manzanares. “After the season last year, I told them we’d give them about a month and then we would start working. About a week and half later, they said, ‘coach, let’s start.’
“And they never stopped. We’ve got a great core group of guys that really work hard and that’s the difference between this year and last year.”
Manzanares, who took over the program in June of 2021, hasn’t make many changes in the Lions’ offensive or defensive schemes.
“We are very similar to last year,” Manzanares said. “We got to put a little more in this year. Last year we didn’t had time to put much in. They had a new offense and defense to learn, this year we had time so it’s a little more advanced version on both sides. It comes down to hard work always pays off.”
And the off-season work started much earlier than in the late summer, which was the usual time that Littleton football players started working out.
“It’s way different,” said senior running back Brycen Mhlana. “The change of culture is really happening. We’ve been putting in that work and it is showing.
“At first it was kind of hard but I fell in love with it. Coach keeps telling me, it’s going to show, it’s going to show and it has.”
In the game against Alameda, Littleton was dominate from the opening kickoff.
“Coach said over the summer that the games would feel like practice and that’s what it was like against Alameda,” said Higgins. “It felt like another day at practice. We went through our regular stuff and it felt like routine. It was great.”
The Alameda game got lopsided in a hurry as the Lions jumped ahead 54-0 at halftime and two blocked punts help Littleton extend the advantage in the second half.
“74-0, that’s crazy,” added Mhlana. “I don’t think this school has seen anything like that. When the team is on the field, we’re all clicking and we’re all executing and it is really happening. Like Timmy said, it felt like practice.”
However, tougher games are ahead for the Lions.
“We just have to keep working hard,” said Manzanares. “The biggest thing is we are heading into league play in a couple weeks (Class 3A, League 4). We have to start tuning things up, little mistakes on offense and defense.
“That’s it.They are conditioned well, work out heavy and they are good kids. Little tweaks here and there and we’ll be ready. We just have to keep pushing.”
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