By Brandon HENSLEY
Another year, another flag football championship for the Rosemont Spartans. Quarterback Chase Center threw for a touchdown and ran for another in last week’s season finale against Wilson Middle School, a 13-2 Spartan victory.
With the win, Rosemont finished its season 5-1, and won the district championship outright. If Wilson had won, the teams would have been co-champs.
“It feels good. It feels really good,” said first-year Head Coach Ryan Dahlstrom. “It’s a testament to the other coaches and the guys we have.”
Armed with assistant coach Nathan Vasquez and several Crescenta Valley High football players assisting as well, the Spartans rebounded from a 7-6 loss to Roosevelt in the opening week to reel off five straight wins and claim at least a share of their third straight championship.
Led by eighth grader Max Blessinger, the Spartans surrendered only two touchdowns all season. Blessinger had a streak of at least one interception per game, but was sick and did not play last week. Even without him, Rosemont shut out Wilson on offense. The only points the Knights scored came on a safety against Rosemont’s offense.
“Coach Vasquez had that defense completely on point,” Dahlstrom said. “Our defense was easily the best in league all year.”
Rosemont intercepted Wilson twice, one each by Vinny Parrott and Steven Hodges.
The first touchdown of the game came on a long pass play from Center to Angel Ochoa. Dahlstrom cited Ochoa’s ability, and said it was more fun to design plays this year once he realized the receiver’s potential.
“You have to figure out how to get that guy open, because he’s an athlete,” Dahlstrom said.
After losing the first game to Roosevelt on the road, the Spartans came back and hammered the Roughriders 27-6 on Feb. 19 at Rosmeont. Dahlstrom said by the time that game rolled around, the Spartans were simply a better team, as well as more organized.
Dahlstrom praised Center’s progression from the start of the year. He said over the last two games, he looked like a high school quarterback, one who was making better decisions and throws. Center got help from Ochoa on the second score against Wilson, when Ochoa delivered a big block to a Wilson defender, freeing up Center to run for a 20-yard score.
Dahlstrom also said running backs Jordan Fuller and Colby Rees improved as the season went on, making it easier for Center to run the offense when yardage became third down and short, rather than third down and long.
Of course, you can’t run if you can’t block. Dahlstrom has been quick to credit offensive line coach Davo Hakobyan, a CVHS senior who was an All-CIF lineman for the football team in 2014. Hakobyan coached Jacob Erdimeier, Daniel Cho and Chad Ruff to become a dominant force as the year went on.
“Easily Coach Davo and the offensive line,” Dahlstrom said, when asked what he was pleased with the most. “We weren’t able to run the ball earlier in the season as well as we are now. He got those O-lineman organized, and that took the pressure off Chase.”
After the game, Hakobyan and Tyler Hill, a Falcons sophomore who was an All-CIF defender in 2014, spoke to the team.
“You guys did awesome,” Hakobyan said. “It’s been a great experience for me. I hope it’s been a great experience for you.”
“You guys developed as football players tremendously. I couldn’t be more proud,” Hill said.