It’s all relative for the Central Section’s No. 2 rusher, Joseph García, a senior on the undefeated Strathmore High Spartans.
García, 18, and his Spartans remain on the path as they did last season. They finished last year 14-1 after winning both the East Sequoia League division and the Central Section Division VI title then losing to St. Patrick-St.Vincent (Vallejo) in the CIF State Division 6-A southern regional championship game at home last December.
The top-seeded Spartans hosted and defeated No. 8 Orange Cove 24-6 in the first round of play last Thursday (Nov. 9) toward the section’s Division VI crown. No. 5 Orosi visits Strathmore on Friday (Nov. 17) for the second round.
Orosi broke away in the scoring toward a 21-14 win against No. 4 Granite Hills on Nov. 9.
Strathmore improves to 11-0 and 5-0 in the ESL, while Orange Cove ends the season 3-8 (2-1 in league).
García has rushed for more than 5,000 yards in his career for the Spartans. He’s accumulated 93 touchdowns.
After a less-then mediocre first half, head coach Jeromy Blackwell told his players huddled on the field after the game, “You hit the ones you love,” referring to the meeting the team had at halftime. Several players called the meeting “intense,” saying they needed to be told something that would make them perform on the field.
García, who worked his way in the sport through Strathmore’s community youth football leagues, congratulates not only his teammates for the Spartans’ success, but the many cousins playing alongside him on the squad.
García said his parents, Juan and Rosa García, cheered with nearly 20 relatives from the stands.
“Half the team are cousins: Damián Valencia, a linebacker, Alonzo Acevedo, second string running back and safety, (Andre) Bravo, cornerback, and there’s a lot more. I can’t name them,” said García.
The various relatives playing on the varsity team make up the relatives braving the 50-degree weather in the stands.
Joseph compared last season’s successful team and that of this year.
“I think it’s better. We got to either play Orosi or Granite. It’s all the same. The first half we started out slow, because we didn’t have five player. We got chewed out at halftime,” said García.
“I don’t care how many rushing yards I get. I just want to win; to do that, we got to win. We have a bond that no other team has,” he said.
It was in 2014 that García, then a sophomore, was advanced to the varsity squad after helping the junior varsity team to an 8-2 season.
García uses his speed to power the Spartans’ track and field squad, where his specialty is the 100- and 200-meter events. He also participates in the 400-meter event. He’s decided on competing on the school’s baseball team this season.
“Salas is a young kid. Joseph, they’re hard workers,” said Strathmore assistant coach Ricardo López.
“We’re bigger and stronger, but not as smart as they were last year. They’re making the plays,” said López on the Spartans’ experience on the field.