Silverado quarterback Christian Baltodano has taken a back seat to the team’s running game all season.
On Friday, it was Baltodano’s turn to shine.
The senior quarterback completed 11 of 14 passes for 187 yards and three touchdowns to help the Skyhawks to a 40-13 road win over Las Vegas in the Class 4A Sunrise Region quarterfinals.
“It was really good; it was real nice,” said Baltodano, who entered the game with 407 passing yards and eight TDs. “This is probably the best game I ever had in my high school career. Every receiver was catching the ball, the tight end. And everything was open when I was dropping back.”
The opening drive started in typical fashion with the fifth-ranked Skyhawks (8-2) pounding the ball. Silverado ran on its first nine plays before the drive stalled at the Las Vegas 18. Silverado first sent out the field-goal unit, but then had to call timeout because it had only 10 players on the field.
After the timeout, coach Randall Cunningham sent his offense out on fourth-and-4, and Las Vegas was flagged for having 12 players on the field, keeping the drive alive.
Two plays later, Baltodano hit Devin Ross with an 11-yard touchdown pass to give the Skyhawks a 7-0 lead with 4:33 left in the first quarter.
“We just started off with the run, and it opened up the pass,” Baltodano said. “We just controlled the ball and the time, and it just led us to points.”
Las Vegas showed life before the end of the quarter when running back Elijah Hicks broke off a spectacular 92-yard TD run. Hicks found a seam on the left side of the line, sprinted down the left sideline, then cut back inside to make the final defender miss.
The Wildcats (7-3) missed the extra point, and Silverado never relinquished its lead.
The Skyhawks drove 80 yards on 13 plays on the ensuing possession, capped by a 2-yard TD run by Keikiokalani Misipeka to push the lead to 13-6 with 5:54 left in the half.
Baltodano then got into the act again before halftime, finding a wide open Cameron Wiley for a 63-yard scoring pass with 1:55 left in the half. Wiley caught the ball near the 35 without a defender within 10 yards of him and waltzed into the end zone.
“We don’t like to throw the ball,” Cunningham said. “We can throw the ball. I said earlier in the week we were going to have to throw the ball a little bit. Our quarterback had three touchdowns, and I was really proud of him.”
Las Vegas threatened to steal the momentum when the Wildcats drove 60 yards, capped by Zach Matlock’s 1-yard TD run on the first possession of the second half, to cut the lead to 20-13.
But Nazih Salih returned the ensuing kick 97 yards for a score, and Las Vegas wouldn’t threaten again. Salih later had a 51-yard run on a fake punt.
“It was pretty amazing that Nazih got the kickoff and took it to the house,” Cunningham said. “And then the fake punt, I didn’t even call that. He called that one himself. He must have saw something, and that’s kind of how we are as a team. We kind of just play naturally with our gifts.”
Misipeka finished with 118 yards on 30 carries and added another 2-yard TD run in the fourth quarter.
Hicks never got going after the long TD run and finished with 94 yards on six carries for Las Vegas.
Contact prep sports editor Damon Seiters at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-458. Follow @DamonSeiters on Twitter.