Just call them the history makers.
The Strathmore High football team has been used to making history over the last five years, playing for and winning state titles. Now they're picking up historic wins of a different nature.
Strathmore opened the season with a 17-6 win over a much larger school in Roosevelt and in which could be the first time a Sierra League team has beaten an East Yosemite League squad, the Spartans defeated Monache 25-14 on Friday night at a jam packed Spartan Stadium.
Monache coach Shane Focke talked about how his team is gritty and the Marauders, who were coming in at 2-0 and off a gritty effort in a 28-20 win over Golden West at Visalia, again showed their true grit against Strathmore, overcoming a statistically dominant effort by the Spartans for most of the first half to take a 14-6 lead in the third quarter.
But it was the Spartans (4-0) who came up with the key plays to pull off the comeback. Among those key plays was two straight sacks made by 6-1, 330-pound Alex “Big Baby” Guzman to stop a driving Monache team to protect an 18-14 lead.
After Monache punted, Manuel Andrade made a leaping grab of a Jaylen Oats pass and ran the rest of the way for a 79-yard scoring pass that sealed the win. The pass came on third and nine.
It was the second key pass on a third down conversion for Strathmore as with Monache ahead 14-6 and with all the momentum, Oats hit Cael Alkire on a 53-yard strike down to the Monache 16 on third and 13.
Just as Monache showed its grit, in what typifies what the Spartan football team has been, Strathmore would send in its quarterback, Oats, in on the defensive line to provide a pass rush and he also had two sacks.
Star Spartan running back Carlos Moreno returned for Strathmore after suffering an injury in the season opener against Roosevelt and wasted no time in making his presence felt as he gained 50 yards on three carries on the first three plays of the game from scrimmage for SHS.
That set up a 30-yard scoring play in which Andrade made a leaping grab off of a deflection and fumbled the ball into the end zone where Alkire was to recover the fumble for the score to give Strathmore a 6-0 lead. But the rest of the first half was a frustrating one for the Spartans as they came away with no points after driving inside the Monache 20 three times.
On its next drive Strathmore drove deep into Monache territory, but fumbled the ball inside the Marauder 20 and Joseph Espinoza scooped up the ball and ran 50 yards down to the Strathmore 26. Johnnie Chavez then caught a 14-yard pass from Brysn Hornsby and Jacob Vasquez had an 11-yard run to set up Tyler Ishida's 3-yard TD run. Tony Castillo added the extra point to give Monache a 7-6 lead.
On the ensuing drive, Strathmore drove all the way down to the Monache 1 where it had fourth and goal, but the Marauders held with a goal line stand. Adrian Sierra returned the ensuing punt by Monache to the Marauders 33. But again on fourth and five at the Monache 16, Moreno's attempted halfback pass was broken up.
Up until that point Strathmore had outgained Monache 188-42. The Marauders put together a drive to end the first half but the drive stalled as time expired. Strathmore ended up outgaining Monache 188-96 in the first half.
But the Marauders came out and scored on their opening drive in the second half when Hornsby hit Andrew Martinez on a 33-yard scoring strike with Martinez bouncing off a defender on his way to the end zone. Castillo's extra point gave Monache a 14-6 lead.
But then came the Oats pass to Alkire that set up Moreno's 3-yard scoring run. Strathmore failed to convert the two-pointer on a run attempt, leaving Monache ahead 14-12.
The Marauders then made another key decision, faking a punt in their own territory and after Strathmore made the tackle the Spartans took over at the Monache 44. On the next play Moreno ran for 31 yards to set up his own 2-yard scoring run to make it 18-14.
Then came Guzman's back-to-back sacks to stop Monache's drive and Andrade's leaping catch and run to seal the win.
Moreno finished with 166 yards on 28 carries while Oats completed 5-of-8 passes for 182 yards. Andrade had three catches for 114 yards.
For Monache, Hornsby completed eight of 12 passes for 91 yards while David Leyva gained 56 yards on 11 carries and Martinez had three catches for 61 yards.