Spartans ring ‘Bell' for 3rd straight year

By Reggie Ellis

Strathmore senior Keith Delk had butterflies in his stomach all day leading up to the 84th annual Battle for the Bell between the Spartans and Lindsay Cardinals. But it looked more like he had wings on his feet when he finally took the field in his third and final Bell Game at Spartan Stadium last Friday.

Delk carried the load for the Spartan offense running for 131 yards and three touchdowns in front of the home crowd. Delk credited his offensive line for opening up huge holes to run through.

&#8220My line was attacking all night,” Delk said. &#8220They opened up holes that allowed me to have some big runs.”

Delk's first touchdown was an 8-yard run with 6:53 in the first quarter. His second run was only six yards but twice as exciting. Delk was hit hard at the line and looked like he was going down. He put his hand on the field, kept his balance, spun out of a tackle and pounded his legs forward until he was in the endzone with 56 seconds left in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Delk ripped off runs of 40 and 45 yards down to the goal line where he punched it in for this third touchdown of the night with 3:33 left in the first half.

Delk is one of six standout athletes that start on both sides of the ball for the Spartans. Delk left the game with leg cramps late in the third quarter, but the damage had already been done with a 27-0 lead. He was spelled by A.J. Knight, who continued to move the chains on offense and control the clock. Knight also scored the only other touchdown of the game. Following a kickoff return to midfield in the second quarter, the Cardinals ran three straight screen passes to either side of the field. On third and eight, Knight stepped in front of one of the passes and ran it back for a touchdown.

Other two-way players who came up big in the game were TE/LB Hector Gomez and WR/SS A.J. Knight. Not only did Gomez deliver some big blocks on offense, he came up with some devastating plays on defense each time the Cardinals threatened to move the ball. Gomez recovered two fumbles, had a sack for a 10-yard loss and two interceptions, one in the endzone to prevent a Lindsay touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Lindsay did manage to mount a comeback late in the fourth quarter. Trailing 27-0, Lindsay began a drive at their own 20 yard line. A late hit and a facemask penalty quickly helped the Cardinals move to midfield. Lindsay quarterback Jordan Lara completed a pass to the Strathmore 32 yard line. On second and five, running back Joel Garcia cut through the middle of the defense and dove the last five yards into the endzone for a touchdown with 6:50 left in the game. After a missed extra point, the score was 27-6.

On the next play, Lindsay recovered an onside kick at the Strathmore 48 yard line. During a Lindsay timeout, an unidentified student painted in blue and wearing only red underwear ran onto the field, planted a Spartans flag at the 50 yard line and then ran off the field. The referee flagged Strathmore for an unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty, which moved the ball to the 32 yard line. A few short gains and a couple penalties helped the Cardinals move to the nine yard line where Cardinal running back Vicente Rincon hurdled a defender and ran in for the touchdown. With 2:25 to play, the Cardinals trailed 27-14.

A second onside kick attempt failed, but the Cardinal defense held and forced a punt with 1:25 left. Starting from their own 34 yard line, Lara threw a 55-yard bomb to Rincon. On the next play, Lara looked to the corner of the endzone but Strathmore's Gomez came up with the interception to seal the game, 27-14.

It was a third straight Bell victory for Head Coach Jeromy Blackwell, who said there was something special about this group of kids on and off the field.

&#8220The school has a lot of energy and spirit this year,” said the sixth year head coach. &#8220Our football team is playing well, our cheer squad has 30 girls and out test scores are through the roof. There is just a lot of good stuff happening here and we are excited about this year.”

Junior Varsity – Offense was hard to come by in the junior varsity matchup between the Cardinals and Spartans. Lindsay did most of its damage in the second quarter when the Cardinals kept it on the ground all the way down the field for a Jonathan Duarte touchdown.

The only other points in the game came on a miffed snap by the Spartans special teams. Backed up near their own endzone, the Spartans center snapped the ball over the punter's head and out of the back of the endzone for a safety and a 9-0 Cardinal lead.

The Spartans got their chance to score after recovering a fumble at Lindsay's 19 yard line just before the end of third quarter. But a fade pass into the corner of the endzone was picked off by the Cardinals. The Cardinals defense stiffened in the fourth as the Spartans most of the time in Lindsay territory but could not convert the field position into points.

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