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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF

Lathrop juniors will reunite with Sierra

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COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF

Wilmer Alvarez and the rest of the Lathrop Spartans work on kickoffs in preparation for Friday's contest against rival Sierra.

BRANDON PETERSEN/The Bulletin


POSTED September 9, 2009 11:35 p.m.
Brothers Marcel and Myles Romo have never had the chance to line up side by side while on the same football team.

While both played for the Lathrop Titans youth football organization, Marcel, now a junior at Sierra High, was an age group higher than Myles.

With Myles now at Lathrop High as a sophomore, the two may never stand shoulder to shoulder on the same team wearing the same uniform.

Friday night will mark Round 2 of the Romo’s sibling rivalry, as Lathrop will kick off its independent schedule at 7:30 p.m. against visiting Sierra for its first-ever varsity contest.

The elder Romo was a guard on last year’s sophomore squad at Sierra and Myles played nose guard for Lathrop. So when the two teams met for the season opener, the Romos got to line up against each other.

“It was kind of weird, but it doesn’t bother me as much this year since we already did it,” the elder Romo said. “My brother will bring it up sometimes and exaggerate.”

Marcel said the friendly trash-talking this week has been one-sided, with Myles doing most of the chattering.

“I’ve just been keeping to myself,” Marcel said. “My brother doesn’t really talk stuff, but once he starts it really gets going. We’re just basically telling each other ‘See you on the field,’ that’s mainly it.”

Last year, Lathrop had 22 of its 26 sophomores miss the season to ineligibility, and the freshmen class played up a level to form a frosh-soph squad. Sierra’s sophomores beat Lathrop, 20-8. Lathrop finished a respectable 5-5 on the season.

Until Lathrop High opened last year, most students from the city attended Sierra. The junior classes on both teams combined to go 7-2 on the Sierra freshman team in 2007.

“A lot of our kids know the kids from Sierra, and we have some brothers playing against each other so that makes it interesting,” Lathrop head coach Jesse Rodriguez said.

On paper, Rodriguez’s Spartans are outmatched with no seniors at the school and 12 sophomores on the varsity team. Sierra, meanwhile, is coming off its first Sac-Joaquin Section playoff appearance and returns several talented seniors that claimed the Valley Oak League championship at the sophomore level.

“We know that Sierra is a playoff team from last year, and in my opinion they will be a playoff team this year,” Rodriguez said. “We just want to line up and do our best. I am hoping that we just keep competing for all four quarters and learn from our successes and failures.”

Sierra had to drop its annual Week 1 contest with Buhach Colony of Atwater to face Lathrop. The Timberwolves will look to garner momentum for the remainder of their preseason schedule that concludes with Granada of Livermore and Patterson.

“We’re taking a business-as-usual approach,” Sierra coach Jeff Harbison said. “Lathrop gives us a good look with their wishbone offense, because the VOL is a run-oriented league.”

In other Week 1 action:

Beyer at East Union

A good measuring stick for the host Lancers, Division-I Beyer will keep their defense on its toes with a spread offense featuring QBs Kyle Crawford and Justin Usiak.

East Union will unveil its starting QB with three capable signal callers to choose from in seniors Ricky Inderbitzin and Dennis Johnson and Tee Jay Gordon. While stacked at the skill positions, the Lancers’ improved linemen will get a good first test.

East Union has gone through its struggles in recent years, going winless in 2008 and winning just four games in the previous three. Beyer is also looking for a quick turnaround after a 1-9 season in which its junior class finished 0-10 at the sophomore level.

Manteca at Soquel

The Buffaloes march to Santa Cruz to face Soquel of the Central Coast Section. Soquel features a senior class that went 5-4-1 last year at varsity and 9-1 in the junior varsity ranks.

Soquel already has a head start on Manteca having played a Week 0 game — a 22-21 victory over Watsonville. The Knights’ double-wing offense returns its power-speed backfield combination of Niko Alarcon and Tyler Evey.

Similar to Manteca, Soquel’s top returnees play the skill positions. With both size and speed, the Knights should prove to be a worthy opponent to start Manteca’s seasons.

Weston Ranch at Calaveras

This non-league matchup was a clash of styles in their recent meetings, with Weston Ranch’s all-around speed and athleticism going head on with Calaveras’ big-bodied brutes. 

Calaveras, a perennial Mother Lode League and playoff contender, lacks the size of years past but has the speed to make up for it. The Redskins will put Weston Ranch’s Wing-T and spread offenses to the test with six starters returning on their front seven.

Weston Ranch’s defense will be the key if the offense struggles against Calaveras’ experienced front. A win in Week 1 could go a long way for the Cougars’ playoff chances with an always-tough Valley Oak League schedule looming down the road.

Ripon at Linden

The Indians’ gauntlet of MLL opponents in the preseason starts with Linden, which they dominated 55-0 in last year’s season opener.

Ripon graduated a lot of its top players from last season, but key defensive starters — LB Nick Curtice, DB Jared Macedo and DL Hart Yoshida — return with promising talent on the offensive line and skill positions filling in holes.

Linden has tremendous size, with 6-foot-7, 240-pound WR/DE Aaron Judge anchoring the team. If Ripon’s defense can clamp down on the Lions’ playmakers, it could be another preseason-opening rout.

Delhi at Ripon Christian

Despite heavy graduation losses from a squad that enjoyed the program’s best season, Ripon Christian should again be favorites against the Hawks.

Delhi has a new head coach in charge and is starting over after going 0-10 last season. Delhi has tasted success recently, however, making the playoffs in 2005 and 2006.

The rebuilding process continues, but Delhi could be a team to watch in the future with its top players being sophomores and juniors.


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