The Spartans have faced a number of hurdles on and off the field over the last three weeks. Chief among them was the loss of starting quarterback Carlos Lopez. After colliding with another player, Lopez injured his arm taking him out of the night’s game and possibly the remainder of league play. The Spartans suffered another loss when back-up quarterback Nick Salas also succumbed to injury only hours later.
With no one to sit-in as quarterback, head coach Jeromy Blackwell tapped the shoulder of senior wide receiver Andrew Avalos to fill in the position.
“He’s a great wide receiver and one of our best athletes,” said Blackwell of Avalos.
Avalos stated that although mistakes were made by the Spartans during Friday night’s game, he was able to accomplish his one-and-only goal of the evening, “pulling off a win” and moving the team one step closer toward playoffs.
The game opened with a bang as Corcoran immediately took possession of the ball after a Spartan fumble. However, this was not to be the only turnover of the night as Corcoran fumbled only moments later giving the Spartans possession of the ball, three minutes into the first quarter.
According to Blackwell the Spartan defense is roughly two weeks behind schedule. “We have a scrappy group. There are 12 sophomores and we even have a freshman playing linebacker, but they penetrate the field and really go after people,” said Blackwell.
Despite their inexperience, they fought hard to block the Panthers’ offense, preventing them from running the ball. Late in first half Avalos passed to tight end Grant Lockridge who managed to run the ball 30 yards bringing the Spartans to the five yard line where kicker Sergio Reyes was brought out to attempt a field goal. But due to a botched snap, Reyes was unable to make the goal, leaving the score 0-0 in the first half.
The third quarter played out much like the first half as both teams struggled to put points on the board. The Spartans’ defense refused to allow a Corcoran score on a fourth and ten play, late in the third quarter as junior lineman Jonathan Tapia sacked Corcoran’s quarterback.
The Spartans used that momentum as Avalos threw a pass to running back Joseph Garcia who managed a 35-yard run on the play. But a fumble on the drive prevented Strathmore from making a touchdown late in the third quarter.
It wasn’t until the fourth quarter that the Spartans were able to put the game’s first points on the board with a touchdown. With 3:18 left on the clock at third and goal, Avalos passed to junior Victor Ochoa who managed to complete the play by pushing through the middle. Reyes then kicked a successful point ful point after trying to bring the score to 7-0 with three minutes left in the game.
As time wound down, Corcoran made one last attempt at a late game victory. At the 20 yard line Corcoran’s running back, Eric Vargas, lined up in the shot gun formation behind the center appearing as if he were going to run the ball, a play that had much success earlier on. Instead the running back passed to wide receiver, Legary Austin who managed a 22-yard touchdown. Corcoran’s kicker, Angel Garcia attempted an extra point to tie it up but wasn’t able to get it through the uprights as he shanked it far left leaving the score 7-6, which was the eventual final.
With their win over Corcoran, the Spartans ended their three-game losing streak. “I told the team before going in, one play at a time,” said Blackwell.
The coach’s philosophy was personified in Avalos’ ability to lead his team through a challenging win. Avalos was quick to give thanks to his coaches and most importantly his teammates for his first win as quarterback. The pressure is on for the young quarterback as the team will face the Granite Hill Grizzlies Friday, Oct. 30 and victory is needed to ensure their place in the playoffs.