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Tigers capitalize on critical miscues by the Sartans Saturday at Nusenda Community Stadium in Albuquerque. Aztec improved to 5-1 this season. Farmington Daily Times

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AZTEC – Alex Parra is easily breaking free downfield along the sidelines, setting up easy scoring drives in the process.

The Aztec running back scans for the slightest inner crease, makes a quick lateral cut in that direction, and it’s off to the races.

“I think it’s getting us where we need to go. Even if it’s first-down marks, it builds the drives for a touchdown,” Parra said. “I didn’t that see that (coming) at all this year.”

After the first 10 to 15 yards coming off the point of attack, he takes it up another notch to where any defender running beside him struggles to catch him.

“I think I can outrun most people,” Parra said.

Such plays include a 73-yard touchdown run down the far right side against Farmington, as well as his 44-yard run to set up the first of his two rushing touchdowns against St. Pius. 

Parra keeps defenders on their toes as a result.

“Maybe (defenses) can’t creep up to the box as tight as they would like to,” coach Matthew Steinfeldt said.

Whenever he doesn’t cross the goal line untouched, it takes a well-timed shove out of bounds or a drag-down tackle to keep him from scoring. And by then, Aztec’s within a couple yards of the end zone.

Parra’s already a dependable power runner in the red zone, but now he’s becoming even more troublesome for opposing defenders after incorporating extra speed training into his offseason workouts.

“He’s starting to see those creases. He doesn’t need a lot of room. When he finds it, he hits it and goes,” Steinfeldt said. “He’s got a lot of explosive runs. He’s seeing the game for what it is, and I think his vision’s great right now.”

Parra already has 823 rushing yards and 13 touchdown runs in Aztec’s first six games, all because he’s easily breaking free for big gains.

There were times last year he managed to get a quick 15-yard run on occasion. Now he’s had runs of 40 yards or more in five games this year.

Matt Hollinshead covers sports for the Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4577 and on Twitter at @MattH_717.

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