LATHROP — A win tonight would mark several milestones for Lathrop High, which hosts Weston Ranch for homecoming and their Valley Oak League opener tonight.
It would be the first for head coach Steven Wichman, who was oh-fer in three nonleague contests. It would also be the first VOL-opening victory for the Spartans, who enter their fourth season in the conference. It would also be a good way for Lathrop to kick off the first-ever “Battle of I-5” rivalry game with Weston Ranch, which is 4-0 in the all-time series.
“We’ve made our fair share of mistakes in these past three games,” said Wichman, whose squad is coming off a crushing 43-0 defeat at the hands of Ripon following well-contested games against Liberty Ranch and Capital Christian.
“We’ve done a lot of things right but we have yet to put a complete game together. We feel like we match up well against Weston Ranch. What it’s going to come down to is who maintains a 110 percent effort for four quarters.”
Seth Davis earned his first win as Weston Ranch’s head coach with last week’s 26-18 triumph over Bear Creek. He views the Spartans as a good first test in league.
“Their defense is very potent,” Davis said. “With Ricky Martinez being their defensive coordinator I know they are going to be very sound.”
Both Davis and Martinez are former Manteca High players.
Weston Ranch will force Lathrop to defend the entire field, as its balanced attack has had some success to start the season. Quarterback Marcus Moore (647 yards, six TDs passing; 204 yards, TD rushing) is a slippery dual threat complimented by track standout John McDonald. Chris Cannady (32 receptions, 434 yards, 5 TDs) is the area’s leading receiver.
“Weston Ranch has a couple of key athletes who do a lot of great things offensively and defensively,” Wichman said. “We have to eliminate big plays and try and control the game when we’re on the offensive side of the ball.”
Davis is impressed by the physical running of Lathrop fullback Hawaii Leaf a’ Teo (219 yards, TD) and the versatility of Kevin Rainey.
“They have a couple of very good weapons,” Davis said. “We’ll have to watch out for (Rainey). They spread him around and is very elusive.”
Wichman is hopeful that his team can apply what it learned from last week’s game at Ripon.
“Ripon is comparable to the upper-tier teams in our league, so they gave us a first-hand taste and look at what we will be up against,” Wichman said. “This is a tough league and Ripon is a tough opponent. Obviously it was not the outcome that we wanted, but it was an experience that we can gain from. We understand the mistakes that we made in that game and what we need to do to correct them.”