The South Irvine Spartans are the 4 Vert champions for Division 3.
4 Vert is an organization that organizes 7 on 7 football matches. The South Irvine Spartans are the UHS-affiliated team that competed against non-school-related private teams, as well as school-affiliated teams from the area.
The Spartans started off strong with a close 21-14 loss against The Pack. The Spartans had to move on from this loss and look to the rest of their pool.
This fierce competition would bleed into the rest of the afternoon.
“Being on the field all day knowing that you were surrounded by hundreds of other kids, all there trying to win just felt awesome,” junior linebacker Chris Rue said.
Their next matchup was against Sauce Coast Pride, a private team. The Spartans edged out with a 21-14 victory. The Spartans were finally picking up steam and warming up after their first defeat. Sophomore quarterback Koa Saito reflected on the impact that the first game had on them.
“The first game of the tournament was a wake-up call, to say the least,” Saito said.
The Irvine Cowboys were up next, the Irvine High School affiliated team. Irvine had defeated UHS in their last matchup during their 2021 tackle football season. The Spartans were able to quench their thirst for revenge with a convincing 28-0 victory.
The defense started to pick up steam and take advantage of offensive mistakes, patching their own mistakes along the way. The Spartans had the fewest points allowed in their pool with only 28 points scored on their stout defense.
“Our defense has honestly made tremendous strides throughout the 4 Vert season,” sophomore Eithar Takesh said.
UHS ended at the top of their pool and on their way to the championship, finishing 2-1 in pool play. The offense had oiled their gears and was looking to take advantage of the defense’s turnovers in the championship game against The Defenders, Beckman’s team.
The majority of the game was slow, methodical drives full of check-downs and smart, safe decisions by both quarterbacks. UHS drew first-blood with a wide-open throw from Saito to sophomore wide receiver, Blaine Anderson. It would become a game of who would have the first stop.
The Spartans lead 14-7 with no signs of either offense backing down. In the red zone sophomore safety, Brooks Beckmann, read the quarterback and came out with a clutch interception. The Spartans would respond with a touchdown of their own; extending the lead to 21-7.
The Defenders would throw away their next possession by airing it out to Beckmann again, but the Spartan offense stalled on the goal-line giving hope to The Defenders.
This hope was crushed as junior cornerback, Nikko Ray, broke up a crucial 3rd down pass, returning the ball to the Spartans. This game changed from an offensive back and forth to a defensive stalemate.
The Defenders took advantage of the worn-out Spartan defense, driving all the way down the field and scoring their second touchdown, leading to a 21-14 score with only a couple of minutes left in the game.
The Spartan offense focused on bleeding the clock, not even letting The Defenders touch the ball last. The Spartans were named the South County 4 Verts Champions.
This tournament was just the ending of a month-and-a-half long season for the Spartans, with a tournament win as the cherry on top.
“My favorite moment was definitely winning the tournament and seeing our hard work pay off after playing so many games,” junior tight end Chris Conner said.
The future for the upcoming season looks bright with a reinvigorated coaching staff and plenty of young talent to feed. This 4 Verts season is also full of developing skills and chemistry.
“I just hope we can translate our 4 Vert success and play style to our tackle season. If we can do that, our team will have a successful season!” Anderson said.