LATHROP – The Spartans had finally got their groove back.
A pair of consecutive first downs and a forced three-and-out seemed to be exactly what Lathrop High needed at the end of the first half – knowing that they’d get the ball back to start the third quarter and they’d need to keep that pace going if they wanted to match the size and speed of Sacramento’s Capital Christian.
Unfortunately the glimmer of hope proved to be a flash in the pan and the massive lead that the Cougars had mounted turned out to be anything but in a 34-6 loss Friday night, the second in as many weeks for the Spartans.
Despite being down 21-0 at the end of the first quarter and 28-0 going into the half, head coach Jesse Rodriguez said it was the overall letdown of the team that really bothered him – especially with players that he knows can rise to the occasion.
“We just need to play better that. We have plenty of talent out there on the field but when they came out tonight and got their first score you could see the heads start to hang on the sidelines,” Rodriguez said. “That’s something that we can’t have. We had something to build on there, but we need to start from that from the first whistle.”
Making things difficult for the Lathrop was the front-line combination of 6-foot, 4-inch 270-pound Nifae Lealao and 6-foot, 250-pound Brandon Roznos – a tandem that neutralized Lathrop’s running game in the first half and played a major role in holding their entire offense to less than 30 yards during that period.
They also managed to open up holes that allowed Justice Shelton-Mosley to scramble his way into the end zone three times en route to a 99-yard night from the backfield. Quinton Kirk served as the workhorse back with his 17-carries for Capital Christian, and scored twice while racking up 134 yards on the ground.
Neither quarterback was able to find a rhythm, and the two interceptions that Lathrop’s Kenny Garrett threw didn’t lead to any immediate points. But a fumble on a botched punt snap in the first quarter and a Garrett fumble in the fourth both led to scores for the Cougars.
“We’re going to come here tomorrow morning and look at the film and see where we can correct some of the mistakes that we made tonight,” Rodriguez said. “We’re going to keep working at it – we’re not going to quit. I’m not going to let them quit.”