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San Juan Spartans under the Friday night lights, while playing Vacaville Christian Falcons. // Marcus D. Smith

By: Marcus D. Smith
Frustration boiled over as the Spartans fell to 0-1 in league play after suffering a 55-6 loss in a chippy game against the Vacaville Christian Falcons on Friday.

The Spartans never led in the game, but were within striking distance after scoring on a Wyatt Winalski 50-yard pass to Matt Colter, who broke some tackles on the way to cut the deficit to two, 8-6, with 6:31 remaining in the first quarter.

Senior defensive back, Romeo Bryant suffered an early game injury and did not return.

From there, the game ultimately came down to readiness and turnovers. San Juan High School turned the ball overall five times on Friday with three interceptions by Winalski in the first half, and two more team fumbles.

“This is the most physical team we played all season,” said Spartans Head Coach Andy Villegas. “They had good hits, good wrap-ups, they had really good communication. They’re all around a good team.”

“The guys thought this was going to be an easy win… We’re going to have to bounce back next week.”

The team was visibly upset and Vacaville Christian was able to take advantage of the mental breakdown sustained by the Spartans. En route to the lopsided final score, tempers began to rise and rise.

The Falcons were clicking on all cylinders, while the Spartans just could not shake the funk that caused mistimed throws, missed tackles, and missed coverages.

In between plays, especially at dead ball, little scuffles here and there emerged. Nothing egregious, but nevertheless, penalty flags were thrown for unsportsmanlike conduct.

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Prior to the kickoff, both teams participated in the sportsmanship handshake game ritual, a display that is normally showcased at the conclusion of each contest.

This rule change is newly administered by the board of directors of the Sierra Delta League, in hopes to remind players of the importance of sportsmanship, character, and integrity.

“Our athletic director told us that there’s a new rule in SDL (Sierra Delta League), that the sportsmanship is done at the beginning of the game instead of, like we’re used to, at the end, so it’s new for us,” said Vacaville Christian head coach, Manny Tarango. “I don’t necessarily know why they changed that rule but, it seemed to work out alright.”

Vacaville Christian Athletic Director Donna Hagans told The Sentinel that the rule change is in hopes that the boys will be more inclined to clean, fair play out there on the field.

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She referenced a bevy of unsportsmanlike plays in past years and said, given the history of league rivalries, it was decided the rule change would be implemented in attempts to diffuse hostility and animosity among the teams.

“Honestly, it’s going be a big talking to with the boys about attitude and behavior on the field,” Coach Villegas said. “They represent themselves, they represent the school, they are football players so everyone looks to them for leadership roles.”

The Spartans go back to the drawing board this week as they prepare to take on the Rio Vista Rams in their second league game. This contest will be a home game at San Juan Stadium. Kickoff begins at 7 p.m.

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Marcus D. Smith
Marcus D. Smith

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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