The Popcorn Stand: Hilmar USA way too strong for Strathmore USA

I didn’t think it would be this bad but, yes, when I looked at the two teams warming up on Saturday night, I couldn’t help but notice how much bigger, stronger and faster Hilmar USA looked than Strathmore USA.

Those of you who read this Popcorn Stand know I’ve been chronicling the success of Strathmore USA, aka, my alma mater (class of 1984), Strathmore High School, in football. The Strathmore Spartans traveled to Hilmar to face the Yellowjackets in the CIF State 6AA Championship Game.

Hilmar is a community similar to Strathmore in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley just outside of Turlock near Modesto. But Hilmar is also about twice the size of Strathmore.

So after Saturday I became even more impressed by the fact Strathmore was somehow able to beat Hilmar 53-52 in double overtime in last year’s state playoffs on the way to the state title. And as I always can’t resist pointing out, Strathmore coach Jeromy Blackwell did it by RUNNING THE FOOTBALL as the Spartans rushed for the game-winning two-pointer in the second overtime.

But I’m sure because of last year Hilmar was quite ready for Strathmore and the Spartans tried to run the ball with no success. And I have to admit Hilmar is just as much USA as Strathmore as both sides of the stadium were packed for Saturday’s game.

Hilmar won 49-0. I’m reminded of Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore Show who had to do the sports once and reported on the halftime score of the Monday Night game which was 7-7 and said, “the game is closer than the score indicates.”

Well the score of Saturday’s game (I can’t bring myself to write it again) was indicative of how much Hilmar outclassed Strathmore. You may be wondering how a state championship game outside of Nevada involving Bishop Gorman could be so lopsided.

Without going into great detail, California has a large number of divisions now which admittedly is the only thing that gives small schools like Strathmore a chance to compete for a state title. Every team that wins a section title in every division is now effectively guaranteed a spot in the state playoffs in California.

The CIF does the best it can to place section champions in divisions they belong in the playoffs but sometimes you end up with matchups like Hilmar, which is really at least a division if not two divisions above Strathmore, against the Spartans.

But Hilmar USA still deserves a lot of credit.

And despite Saturday’s lopsided loss so does Strathmore USA.

— Charles Whisnand


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