The Strathmore Spartans return talent at skilled positions in hopes of a third straight valley championship

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By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

STRATHMORE – How does a team come back after falling one point short in the State Championship? The answer is: by winning the title and going a perfect 16-0. That is just what the Strathmore Spartans did in 2017. After they fell to the St. Patrick- St. Vincent Bruins 29-28 in 2016 they returned with a purpose and ran the gauntlet winning the D-6AA State Championship 31-29 over the Orange Panthers. Along the way they captured their second consecutive East Sequoia League, D-VI valley and regional titles. Strathmore head coach Jeromy Blackwell believes this recent success will be repeated in 2018.

“Our chances are as good as any other year,” Blackwell said. “We are loaded with a lot of talent all over the place.”

Under Blackwell, Strathmore has never had to worry about finding a running back. While they just graduated the best in the school’s history in Joseph Garcia this season will be no exception. Alonso Acevedo was the Spartans second running back to break the century mark with 1,165 which was another first for the Spartans football program. In 2018 he’ll step out of the shadows and line up as the lead running back.

Acevedo brings a different style of running than the Spartans fans are used to when Garcia toted the ball. In contrast to the in between tackle running Acevedo uses his speed in the open field to gain the edge and cut up the sideline. Last season he rushed for 1,165 yards and 15 touchdowns on 123 carries. His longest run was an 84-yard run during Strathmore’s 28-20 win over the Orosi Cardinals in the D-VI playoffs.

“I don’t know if he is as much as ground and pound as Joseph was, but he is remarkably faster, and much more explosive than Joseph,” Blackwell said.

The biggest question mark for the Spartans is who will open the holes along the offensive line for Acevedo. Four of their five linemen graduated from last season. Only Jadon Guire returns at right guard. While coach Blackwell has been finding players to fill the positions he has discovered one thing.

“We won a valley championship in 2009 with a smaller offensive line,” Blackwell said.

The Spartans offensive line, come week one, could average 5-foot, 10-inches and weigh below 200 pounds. It is a stark contrast from the over six foot and 250-pound line which led them to the State Championship. Thus far this off season Guire seems to be the only one over both six foot (6’ 1”) and 200 pounds (235). Despite the disadvantages a smaller line might present their speed might prove helpful for Acevedo.

Another contrast might be how difficult their non-league competition is. At the beginning of the season last year Strathmore dictated their will on non-league opponents. In five games they won by a combined score of 256-69. In 2018 they might be significantly more challenged in the first three weeks. They open on the road against the Boron Bobcats. The High Desert League member will evaluate where Strathmore stands against one of the emerging power houses in D-VI the Rosamond Roadrunners. In last years valley championship game Rosamond led Strathmore at halftime and wasn’t truly beaten until the fourth quarter. The second opponent comes in week three in their matchup against the Orosi Cardinals. Orosi came out of nowhere in 2017 winning the East Sierra League and challenging Strathmore in the semi-finals.

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