By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Lathrop loses on late Big Valley Christian touchdown
Xavier Walden
MODESTO – The Lathrop Spartans found themselves in an unusual position late in the fourth quarter on Friday night at Big Valley Christian.


The Spartans held a narrow 13-8 lead that appeared to be the margin they needed to get the first-year varsity program their first-ever win, as they prepared for a red-zone drive that would put the game out of reach.

But after their second red-zone turnover of the night, the Spartans watched in horror as Big Valley Christian struck with a 73-yard pass for the go-ahead touchdown that shifted the momentum en route to a 22-13 victory.

“We moved the ball much better tonight, and I’m proud of the guys for being able to do that,” Lathrop head coach Jesse Rodriguez said. “But we turned the ball over twice as we were getting ready to score, so we hurt ourselves tonight.

“We’ll go back and keep working on it. We showed some good things out there tonight, but ultimately we made mistakes that we couldn’t recover from.”

All of the yardage that Lathrop mounted on the night would come on the ground.

All of Elijah Cash’s passes were either missed by receivers or placed into the hands of Big Valley Christian’s defensive backs – and the bulk of tough yards the Spartans grounded out to keep their drives alive came from quick cuts of Andrew Aquino.

But it was Xavier Walden that blew the door open for Lathrop and set them up for their first chance to win a game, breaking a massive 49-yard touchdown run that gave the Spartans the lead they carried into the fourth quarter. He found another massive hole to through for 48-yards, setting up what would have been the game-clinching score before the ball was turned over.

“The offensive line was doing a great job tonight and opening up the holes, and I just used my God-given ability,” said Walden, who doubled over as a linebacker. “We’re still a young team and we’ve got some things to work on, but we’re getting there.”

Walden finished the night with 154 yards on 16 carries and recorded one touchdown.

With their acceptance to the Valley Oak League coming next season, the Spartans will use the next two weeks to travel North to take on Bella Vista of Fair Oaks and Christian Brothers of Sacramento to see how they do against some of the bigger programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section.

Rodriguez is just hoping that the team continues to make forward progress.

“We did better tonight offensively, and that’s what we want to do each and every week – we scored 13 points and that ties our season best,” he said. “All we can do is try and build on it from here.”