Like the 300 Spartans in the Battle of Thermopylae, the Lathrop Jr. Spartans’ junior varsity youth football squad went down with a fight.
Facing undefeated Tracy Jr. Bulldogs in the Delta Youth Football League Super Bowl Saturday at Stockton’s Lincoln High, Lathrop came close to overcoming great odds in a 22-20 defeat.
The Jr. Spartans trailed 22-6 in the second half but scored 20 unanswered points to make things interesting at the end. The difference was two blocked conversion kicks, including the attempt to tie it in the final minutes. Tracy sealed the win on the next drive which finished inside the Lathrop 10 before time expired.
The Jr. Bulldogs (12-0) are undefeated at the JV level two straight years.
“I am proud of our team’s effort — our boys can hold their heads high today,” Lathrop coach Anthony Hernandez said. “These young men gave 110 percent effort this year.”
Lathrop (9-4) never led and trailed 8-6 at halftime.
Quarterback Vincent Spruell rushed for 122 yards and three touchdowns spanning 33, 55 and 4 yards. He also completed one of two passes for 40 yards.
Michael Ramos was a big contributor on both sides of scrimmage, racking up 72 rushing yards while picking off a pass defensively. Tyreke James added 62 yards on the ground.
The 2011 Jr. Spartans JV squad is the first in the organization’s 10-year history to advance to the DYFL Super Bowl. The team was formerly the Lathrop Titans before adopting the mascot of Lathrop High after the school opened for the 2008-09 school year.
“Our jobs as youth coaches is to prepare these players for high school ball,” Hernandez said. “We went toe-to-toe with the feeder programs for Lincoln High (in the North Conference championship game) and then Tracy High School.
“Lathrop High will have a great group of players to look forward to in a few years. We were supported by our great parents and fans. We stress on being a family, and we achieved that goal this year.”