Gilbert Acevedo returned the opening kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown to launch a historic night at Strathmore High.
And Joseph Garcia carried the Spartans the rest of the way, straight into the CIF State Division 6-A football final.
The 5-foot-10, 175-pound junior rushed 31 times for school records of 421 yards and seven touchdowns to lead Strathmore to a 62-22 victory over Horizon Christian Academy-San Diego in the Southern California Regional on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium.
The Spartans will host St. Patrick/St. Vincent-Vallejo at 6 p.m. Dec. 17 for the CIF State Division 6-A championship. St. Patrick/St. Vincent beat Brookside Christian-Stockton 47-18 in the Northern California Regional.
“I got to thank the offensive line, they did an amazing job,” Garcia said of right tackle Luke Raya, right guard Jadon Guire, center Christopher Ramirez, left guard Tim Braziel and left tackle Ryan Knutson. “The holes were there all night.”
As the game wore on, we started asserting our presence up front. And from that, we just kept shoving it down their throats.
Strathmore offensive lineman Jadon Guire
Garcia helped Strathmore (14-0) pour it on in the second half with touchdowns Nos. 5-7 on the night, bringing his season total to 44.
Garcia scored on a 1-yard run three plays after Andres Lara recovered a Horizon fumble at the Spartans’ 44-yard line to make the score 41-22, added a 65-yard scoring burst two plays after an Armando Ramirez interception at the Spartans’ 11 and capped his night for the ages with a 1-yarder that put Strathmore ahead 55-22 with 7:42 left in the game.
“Joseph is an amazing running back who has an amazing ability to find the hole and punish people,” Strathmore coach Jeromy Blackwell said. “And man, he got some big-time play out of his offensive linemen. Those guys played really hard.”
421 yards rushing by Joseph Garcia, 10th-best in Central Section history, according to historian Bob Barnett
Garcia’s 421 yards rushing was the 10th-best single-game performance in Central Section history, according to historian Bob Barnett.
“As the game wore on, we started asserting our presence up front,” Guire said. “And from that, we just kept shoving it down their throats.”
Strathmore’s 35-14 halftime lead came on the back of Garcia, who carried the ball on 22 of the Spartans’ 24 first-half plays.
He scored on a 44-yard run in the first quarter to make it 14-7. His 8-yard touchdown run put Strathmore up 21-14. Then his touchdown runs of 4 and 6 yards in the second quarter helped the Spartans pull away.
“We’ve always set the goal of being the greatest football team Strathmore has ever had, and we’ve achieved that goal,” Blackwell said. “Now we want to see what else is out there and how far we can take this.”