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By Marcus D. Smith–
Entering the halfway point into the season it was a jubilant, breezy Friday evening and San Juan High School was looking to end a losing streak of back-to-back games when they faced the Mira Loma Matadors in a non-conference matchup at El Camino High School’s Abbott Field.
Coming off their own homecoming loss against Mesa Verde in the Citrus Height Bowl, the Spartans looked to play spoiler to Mira Loma High School who were not just looking for a homecoming win, but also their first victory of the season.
Spartans would makeup their woes from last week nabbing their second win of the season in a shutout, 30-0, improving their overall record to (2-3).
“The guys lost their homecoming last week, so this was a big win for us,” said San Juan High School varsity football head coach, Andy Villegas. “The guys put in the work this week. Hard practice on Monday to make up for it, and then Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday… everybody showed up and put the work in. Going into league, we knew we had to come back.”
The Spartans struggled to find the end zone early in the game. Their first score of the game would come with 9:03 remaining in the second quarter off a dump off for Romeo Bryant that turned into a 20-yard touchdown.
The Spartans went into halftime with just a 10-0 lead after a 34-yard made field goal by Cristian Angulo.
In the second half is where the Spartans began to explode behind the Wyatt Winalski-Matt Colter connection began to unfold. Winalski threw three touchdowns in the second half alone to Colter, as the Matadors had no answer for the tandem.
Coach Villegas called Colter, his junior wide receiver, “one of my up and comers,” noting he played varsity as a sophomore last year. “The kid’s looking great. Phenomenal hands. Good speed. Good speaker. Good leader.”
Villegas has currently has 15 graduating seniors and 10 juniors, including Colter.
“Looking forward to having him again next year, thankfully,” said Villegas. “I graduate a lot of seniors, so it’s really good to know that I’ll have some talent coming back next year.”
The Spartans will need him to replicate this performance and then some next week when Sierra Delta League play begins with San Juan High School going on the road to visit the Vacaville Christian Falcons on Oct. 4 at 7 p.m.
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The Spartans will have their work cut out for them as the Falcons currently sit at a 4-1 overall record on the season. League play is the chance to change the course of the season by excelling throughout the league games.
“They’re a good team, we had a hard time against them last year,” said Coach Villegas, looking forward to next week’s matchup with Vacaville Christian. “I’m looking forward to having my boys, who are pretty athletic, go up against theirs.”
Vacaville Christian will be coming off their first loss of the season, 28-26, courtesy of Woodland Christian High School. The 26 points is the lowest of their season so far, as the Falcons average 40 points per game. Defensively, they only allow 16 points per game.
The two-point spread is also the closest game they have had thus far in the early part of the season.
San Juan High School will enter the game coming off of an avenging, euphoric, 48-minute contest. They will have to find a way to keep that momentum and score points against the Vacaville Christian team who like to play shootout style football.
The Spartans come into the game scoring an average of 19.4 points per game, and allowing 18.6 points per game. This past week was their best overall performance as a team, on both sides of the ball. The team’s 30 points was a season-high for the Spartans, topping their 23-point output against Foresthill on Sept. 13.
Defensively, they were no slouch. En route to their shutout, the Falcons were able to stifle their opponent as they were able to force fumbles and deflect passes all night. They capped off a perfect defensive performance with a late-game interception by Justin Mattson with 1:30 remaining in the game.
Mattson, recently-cleared transfer, played his first game for San Juan High School on Friday night.
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With a goal to defeat Vacaville Christian, defense will be the main focal point and performances such as this one will be the critical to the success of the San Juan Spartans.
Despite a great performance, there were defensive miscues that can be worked on heading into next week. The team still missed out on plenty of opportunities to take advantage of interceptions, and coach Villegas discussed how they would clean this up in the upcoming days in practice.
“We’ve been working on a lot of pass defense. They’re a passing team and [we’re] knowing it’s going to be difficult,” Villegas said.
The Spartans look to begin league play with a win and get their overall record back to .500.
To continue The Sentinel’s local sports coverage, we’re looking for 100 new subscribers to sign up before the end of the season, for just $4/mo. Want to be 1 of the 100 who make local sports coverage possible? Click here to subscribe today.
The Sentinel is pleased to introduce sports reporter Marcus D. Smith, who will be covering high school sports in Citrus Heights. Smith is a Sacramento-area native and earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017.
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