THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo
Start took part in spoiling Rogers’ homecoming on Friday.
The Spartans blanked the Rams 26-0 in a City League contest between two of the three CL teams that entered week 8 tied for first place.
It was the second time this season the Rams (5-3, 2-1 CL) were shut out.
However, this shut out involved Rogers taking the field without eight senior starters who were suspended from school on Thursday for violating school policies. Each of the student athletes reportedly received three-day suspensions from school and were removed from the Rogers football team for the remainder of the season for allegedly hazing.
PHOTO GALLERY: Click here to view images
It left Rogers first-year coach Keith Dawson scrambling to plug reserves into starters’ roles on both sides of the football a day before the key league contest with the Spartans.
“"We lost them all the day before, so we were trying to get the pups ready in less than 24 hours,” Dawson said. “We're still [sorting] through what happened. It's kids being kids, but the end result was them paying the ultimate price.”
Nonetheless, the Spartans (4-4, 3-0) established control at the outset and never looked back. Quarterback Dexter Johnson put Start in front 7-0 when he crossed the goal line on a one-yard touchdown run with 6:41 to play in the opening quarter.
Johnson, who finished with 187 total yards said the Spartans were primed to play.
“We beat them at the line, and we were ready for this game,” Johnson said.
Johnson had plenty of help knocking off the defending City League champions, starting with an effective offensive line led by Tyler McClorine (6-6, 315), Martice Ross (6-1, 280), and Jordan Lafartha (6-1, 205). They protected Johnson well enough for him to complete 5 of 8 passes for 131 yards, including a 46-yard touchdown strike to speedy wideout Will Goodbar to make it 14-0 midway through the third quarter.
Goodbar also added a six-yard touchdown run later in the quarter to give the Spartans a 20-0 advantage.
Johnson also gained 56 yards rushing on 15 carries, but it was halfback Deshawn Woodward who handled most of the rushing load.
Woodward, who entered the game as the CL's second-leading rusher with 443 yards on 68 carries, gained 104 yards on 23 carries against the Rams.
“We played together as a team and came out with the win as a team,” Woodward said.
Start coach Tyson Harder was pleased with how the Spartans responded.
“That was a good win for the kids,” Harder said. “The kids battled hard. The season didn't start the way we wanted, but we've been battling and improving. We've been getting better.
“I'm very proud of them. Execution-wise on offense, we were a little sluggish at times and we kind of shot ourselves in the foot, but when the defense plays like they did we're going to be in any game.”
The Spartans defense also came through with a score when Lafartha scooped up a fumble and returned it 16 yards for a score late in the final quarter.
Contact Donald Emmons at:email@example.com,419-724-6302 or on Twitter @DemmonsBlade.