LATHROP — The Battle of I-5 trophy is remains in Lathrop for a second straight year.
The Spartans handled Weston Ranch in Friday’s Valley Oak League clash at Benny Gatto Field, 35-7, and kept their postseason hopes on track.
Lathrop (2-2 VOL, 4-3 overall) came out firing on all cylinders.
“We wanted to establish the run early on,” said first-year Lathrop coach Joe Pirillo.
It helped getting a boost from special teams at the outset.
Brian Terrell opened with a 47-yard kickoff return. On the first play from scrimmage, he had a key block to help spring loose Michael Ramos for a 30-yard gain.
Ramos’ run set up Jacob Devita, who scored on the 2-yard run in that first possession.
Weston Ranch (1-3 in VOL, 4-3 overall) had trouble getting its ground game untracked.
“They put nine guys up front to challenge our run,” said Cougars coach Seth Davis.
He also could see that the momentum on this night was with Lathrop.
“We just couldn’t run the football,” Davis said.
Weston Ranch managed just three big plays —Erron Duncan’s 55 yard run from deep in his territory shortly before the half coupled with his 58-yard touchdown late in the game, and a 40-yard completion to Benn Clique.
Lathrop’s efficient running game later set up the passing game.
Senior quarterback Diego Chavez connected with wide receiver RJ Tisdale on a big fourth-down play to open the second quarter.
“He made a nice catch after getting a little spacing from the defender,” Chavez said.
The Spartans also came up big on special teams and defense.
Linebacker Devita applied enough pressure to force a safety late in the first half.
Tremayne Tuipuloto Willis Jr. blocked a punt in the fourth quarter, recovering the live ball in the end zone.
Keenan Donatelli gave his team possession by coming up with a kickoff recovery.
Chavez put the game out of reach by connecting twice with Terrell on TD plays in the fourth.
“This is a rivalry game,” says Terrell. “We wanted this one — we’re fighting for a playoff spot.”