Strathmore Spartans defeat Reedley Pirates 21-14 after losing running back Carlos Moreno in the third quarter, set to play Bakersfield Christian at home this Friday
STRATHMORE – The Strathmore Spartans sealed the deal on their first division three playoff win against the Reedley Pirates, hanging on to an early lead for a 21-14 victory.
The two teams traded running touchdowns at the end of the first quarter and early into the second before the Spartans took a commanding lead thanks to the dominant play of senior running back Carlos Moreno, who led the Spartan charge with two rushing scores giving Strathmore a comfortable 21-7 lead going into halftime.
A Sebastian “Seabass” Gonzalez sack and a big fourth down goalline stop by 5-foot-6, 145 lb. junior Adrian Sierra had the Spartans fired up in the third quarter until star running back Moreno went down with a scary knee injury and was carried off of the field in agonizing pain. Strathmore senior quarterback Jaylen Oats got the stunned crowd back in the game the very next play with a big run, but the Spartans would not score for the rest of the night.
A costly fourth quarter personal foul after the play on a big third down stop—one of the few penalties called on the disciplined Spartans the entire game—fueled a Reedley run for a touchdown, but the Spartan defense was able to hold the line against the Pirates to win their first division III playoff matchup in school history.
The 2021 season is the first for the new ranking system for the Valley playoffs, which conducts division placement at the end of every season—as opposed to every two years—based on season records and matchups. Strathmore head coach Jeromy Blackwell said it can be hard to know what to expect, but he thought his team matched up well against the 9-1 Reedley Pirates to remain undefeated on the season.
“We never actually say undefeated, we say, ‘Now we’ve gone 1-0 11 times,’” Blackwell said. “This is the 100th season [of Strathmore football] and it’s been a year like no other.”
The Spartans of past have laid an impressive path of victory with undefeated seasons in 1961, 1999, 2016 and 2017 with multiple valley championships under their belt. Strathmore brought home a division IV State Championship banner in 2017, but they have a tough road ahead with competition kicked up a notch in division III. The Spartans will suit up at home to square off with Bakersfield Christian—a private school with open recruiting—on Friday, a reunion of sorts for coach Blackwell, who played ball at Fresno State with the David Carr, oldest brother of the Carr Central Valley football dynasty family and offensive coordinator for his younger brother, Bakersfield Christian coach Darren Carr.