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SPARTANS MAKING STRIDES

Summer workouts nearing end for 2nd-year Lathrop

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SPARTANS MAKING STRIDES

Jose Sevilla holds his ground while taking on two blockers during Lathrop High's varsity football practice Tuesday. Thursday marks the Spartans' final summer workout before the Sac-Joaquin Section-...

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin


POSTED July 21, 2010 1:59 a.m.
LATHROP — In a little over a month, the Lathrop Spartans will begin their second football campaign at the varsity level and the only certainty the club has is that the challenge won’t get any easier.

Lathrop closed out its inaugural varsity season without a win, closing an 0-9 season with a 42-13 loss to Sacramento High. The Spartans showed signs of progressing along the uphill climb of a new program, but still have monumental strides to make before competing in an always-challenging Valley Oak League.

Lathrop will have the first senior class in school history this season, and the impact the group will have to make will be monumental. Lathrop’s seniors are embracing the leadership role, and some of the other upperclassman are taking some initiative as well.

“There has been quite a few seniors that have started to show some leadership,” Lathrop head coach Jesse Rodriguez said. “But even beyond that are the juniors. Every junior we have played as a sophomore on varsity last year. We have 29 second-year varsity players, and I’m hoping they will gel and show the leadership which I am seeing in the summertime.

“And hopefully, that will then show up on the field.”

Lathrop took strides in the right direction a season ago, only getting shut out twice on the season and building a halftime lead against VOL rival Weston Ranch before faltering over the second half. The successes and failures alike will hopefully be the foundation for a quick turnaround for the Spartans’ program.

“I think that most of the kids realized that they had to do a lot of stuff in the weight room,” Rodriguez said. “They knew that a lot of off-season stuff was going to be extremely important. They played at the varsity level and they saw that everyone is bigger, stronger and faster.

“In order for us to compete, they’d have to do the same thing.”

Lathrop has kept is offensive focus in tack, continuing in the “Wishbone” with hopes of keeping the offensive juggernauts off the field, while turning the game clock into its friend. Lathrop will make its debut in the new VOL alignment by opening with the East Union Lancers, but the Spartans will undoubtedly have already faced a test as the highly-touted Escalon Cougars are coming to Lathrop for the season opener.

The squad will roll into the Dead Period after putting forth a respectable showing in a full-contact camp at West High in Tracy earlier this month. Tracy, Manteca and West made up the rest of the four-team field. Lathrop will be closing up their final team workouts Thursday at Lathrop High.

When asked if his Spartans have a clue of what to expect when Escalon (31-5 over the past three seasons)  shows up to kick off the 2010 season.

“No they don’t,” Rodriguez said. “They’ve asked me and I said Escalon’s only loss was to the state champions (Modesto Christian) last year. I think they’re going to come in here and be a great test for us right away.

“We need to learn from those kinds of teams; we have to learn what it’s going to take to be that kind of program.”
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