Strathmore High has returned to the state football championship game the hard way, a year after losing the title the hard way.
Last year in Strathmore, St. Patrick-St. Vincent-Vallejo scored in the last seconds to beat the Spartans 29-28 for the Division 6-AA championship, ending Strathmore’s undefeated season.
So all the Spartans have done this year is produce another undefeated season. Then in the state playoffs, the California Interscholastic Federation handed Strathmore two big hurdles: first, a play-in game that the Spartans rallied to win in double-overtime at Hilmar, then a rematch with St. Patrick-St. Vincent in the semifinals, which Strathmore handled in a 49-35 victory last week.
It doesn’t get any easier this week as the Spartans (15-0) have a road date against Orange (13-2) at El Modena High at 6 p.m. Saturday. Orange boasts a student body of about 2,000 compared with 294 at Strathmore.
Orange prevented an all-Central Section championship game by stopping Caruthers 46-43 in overtime last week.
Senior running back Joseph Garcia is Strathmore’s workhorse with 300 carries for 2,626 yards and 45 touchdowns. Alonso Acevedo is also a 1,000-yard rusher (1,152 and 15 TDs) and the Spartans average a remarkable 312-plus yards per game on the ground. Nick Salas, the 6-foot-6 quarterback, complements with about 100 yards per game passing and 17 TDs.
State football finals
6 p.m. Saturday
Division 5-AA: McClymonds-Oakland (13-0) at Golden West (12-2), Groppetti Community Stadium
Division 6-AA: Strathmore (15-0) vs. Orange (13-2), Fred Kelly Stadium at El Modena High