Undefeated and unscored upon is not something that happens often in the world of high school football but the Sparta High School Freshmen Football team achieved just that – ending their first year as members of the Spartans Football Program with a perfect season. Their success was the result of a perfect storm fueled by the right mix of talented kids and coaches – coming together at the right time – to make Sparta High School history.
Although, many of Sparta High’s football teams over the decades have had undefeated seasons , current records do not show any other SHS Football team being both undefeated AND unscored upon. Throughout their season the players were dominant on both sides of the ball with 229 unanswered points and a formidable defense which would simply shut down their opponents. Coach Procopio highlighted these season stats, ”We had 2,249 yards of total offense and gave up only 336. We had 92 total first downs, gave up 27. Created 15 turnovers and had 28 sacks”.
Prior to this season, in their 8th grade year, the boys were brought together as a mix of Spartans and Bears when the Bears Football League disbanded. They worked hard early in the season to get their groove together and began to gel as their 8th grade season progressed. Captain and Quarterback Mike McGovern said, “We didn’t win a lot of games last season but then we came back this season to be undefeated…together we showed we can do great things.”
Starting in the heat of the summer the freshmen boys showed up with humility and a strong work ethic. Head Coach Procopio remarked that the coaching staff “knew they were a special group because they came into summer camp focused and ready to learn.” Some of the players have older brothers or friends who they have watched on the Sparta gridiron achieving state championship status and undefeated seasons – these players knew that they now had the opportunity to come together and learn from and be coached by the best. Captain and wide receiver Paul Gennat stated that, “the coaches spent a lot of time teaching us and pushing us to do our best.” Captain and lineman Billy Quinn stated that he felt their coach’s taught them “lessons we can use on and off the field such as learning that hard work pays off. Together, we worked really hard and made Sparta High School football history.”
A strong cohesive group of talented young men and great coaching proved to be the right combination for their perfect season. Coach Procopio said they would focus on one game at a time and the players would listen and readily accept advice. Assistant Coach Brown commented that the players are a group of “very coachable” boys. Coach Finland stated that “they played as a unit helping each other out and someone would always step up when necessary”. Running Back Sam Esposito stated, “There was never a time when you could say it was just a few players making all the plays it was like we became a tight family who counted on each other”.
Varsity Head Coach Frank Marchiano, stated, “I am extremely proud of what our Freshmen Team accomplished this year. Through hard work and dedication, they accomplished a story-book season. Going undefeated is magnificent, but not giving up a point is incredible. As the varsity coach, you are only as good as your next class. I look forward to coaching this fine group of players in the years to come. Congratulations to all players, coaches and parents involved”.