By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Cougars break into win column with defensive pounding over Lathrop
Cougar starting quarterback E.J. Allen avoids Lathrop’s Pablo Chavez during first-half action of the Cougars’ 15-3 win over Lathrop Friday. - photo by HIME ROMERO
WESTON RANCH – It was a contest both programs had circled on their calendars, but Weston Ranch was the program with something to celebrate after its 15-3 Valley Oak League win over the Lathrop Spartans Friday during the Cougars’ homecoming week.

Weston Ranch added to its less-than-comfortable 7-3 halftime lead, when Melvin Allen took his second carry after the intermission 73-yards for a double-digit Cougar lead they would not relinquish.

“The main thing for us was going out and playing a full game,” Cougars head coach Mike Hale said. “We’re trying to limit our mistakes, and I told them going in that the team with the least amount of mistakes would pull it out.

“It went back to the team that could capitalize on mistakes, and I think we came out ahead.”

Lathrop (0-4 VOL, 2-5 overall) looked prepared for the task on its opening drive, putting together a nice 15-play drive, culminating with a 27-yard Wilmer Alvarez field goal to open the second quarter. The Spartans’ defensive unit responded, holding Weston Ranch quiet after they marched 61-yards on 10-plays for a 7-0 lead.

When Lathrop returned to the field for the second half, its chances at victory looked as promising as the Cougars’ did. Lathrop only needed to capitalize on its opportunities on the Weston Ranch side of the field, but similar to its chances in the first half, Lathrop proved incapable of closing out its offensive possessions when it found itself close to pay dirt.

“I think that we were able to drive the ball pretty good, it’s been the same thing all year long, we don’t finish,” Lathrop head coach Jesse Rodriguez. “We’ve moved the ball against everybody, even with Oakdale last week, but we’re not finishing anything.

“By not finishing, we’re not putting points on the board and then our defense is on the field too long.”

As quiet as action played out over the first two quarters, the stinginess of the two defensive units spiked in the second half. The Cougars would add the games’ final points when Lathrop recovered a botched punt attempt in the end zone with 8:04 remaining in the contest.

The victory was the first of the season for Weston Ranch (1-3, 1-6), giving the close-knit group reason to celebrate. The joy emanating off the players after they doused Hale with a victory bath, showed that their coach’s first victory of the season was something each of his players wanted to give him.

“The difference in the second half was that we went in there and got coached up pretty good,” Weston Ranch starting quarterback E.J. Allen said. “I give all the credit to coach Hale, he really fired us up today. In the first-half we did some things that we weren’t really proud of, so the second-half we just wanted to come out and try and fix everything.”

Weston Ranch will try to build on its first victory by handing the Oakdale Mustangs their first loss of the league season, while the Lathrop Spartans’ up-hill climb goes through Manteca with a contest with the Buffaloes Friday.

“I told our guys that they are probably going to be facing a 7-0 team Friday,” Rodriguez said of the Buffaloes. “And after that we have Sierra, so our up and coming games are not going to be easy.

“Either way, we have to line up and play, and we have to get better.”