Sparta quarterback Austen Frattura throws for four touchdowns and 320 yards to lead his team to a 49-6 win over Roxbury as the Spartans play under the lights at home for the first time.
SPARTA -- It was already known that a new era was going to start on Friday night for Sparta High School's football program, as the first ever game on both turf and under lights at Cassels Field against Roxbury had finally arrived.
But a new era of a different kind -- this one unexpected but perhaps equally as pleasant -- may have come with the arm of freshman quarterback Austen Frattura.
His first start for the Spartans looked like something directly out of a video game: 9-for 12, 320 yards and four touchdown passes.
But it was reality and that kind of night that rocketed Sparta to a 49-6 victory over Roxbury in its historic home opener in front of a large, partisan crowd. The Spartans leveled their record to 1-1, while the Gaels dropped to 0-2 on the campaign.
Frattura wasted no time heating up, throwing for three long touchdown passes in the first quarter to get the Spartans in command early.
“I wasn't really nervous after a whole week of practice,” Frattura said. “It all starts with the offensive line. They blocked, gave me time to throw all night. The credit goes to those guys.”
Sparta got the ball to receive, and it took a mere six plays to get on the board. On a third-and-4, Frattura threw a ball over the top of the Roxbury secondary, where Tyler Szabo outjumped a Gaels defender and pranced 51 yards to the house, sending the big crowd into a frenzy.
Roxbury quickly went three-and-out on its first possession, giving Sparta the ball back. On the third play from scrimmage, Austin Castorina broke three tackles and ran 43 yards to the end zone to instantly double the lead to 14-0. The advantage came less than five minutes into game following a Vinnie DeSimone PAT.
“When you play Roxbury, you have to get out to a lead early with their ball control style,” Castorina said. “Last year we were in a tight game in the second half, and we wanted it to be different tonight.”
Another quick Gaels series gave the ball back to the Spartans and facing a third-and-19 from their own 16, a well-timed screen pass play call saw Frattura connect with Castorina for an untouched 84-yard score.
The Spartans quickly got the ball back again, and this time Frattura found Brendan Cina on a quick hitch route for a 21-yard score and a 28-0 lead after one.
“I'm very pleased with the way our offense came out and played,” said Spartans coach Frank Marchiano. “Austen came out poised and collected for a freshman, and he was impressive.”
Roxbury would mount a 14-play drive to march deep into Sparta territory, but ultimately turned the ball over on downs on the Sparta 21.
On the ensuing play, the Spartans elected to throw the bomb, and Szabo found himself wide open behind the Gaels secondary. Frattura would hit him for a 79-yard score, and the running clock was on to start the second half. Szabo finished with 150 yards on four catches to go with his two TDs.
Frattura continued his big night by running in a bootleg from a yard out with 4:29 to go in the third, and backup quarterback Tom McGovern scored the final Sparta touchdown of the night with a 1-yard plunge with 1:25 left.
Prior to the Spartans' second score in the second half, Roxbury's Lucas Spitzer got the visitors on the board with a 14-yard run against a reserve Sparta defense.
The larger than usual crowd on hand was something Castorina credits toward giving the Spartans a bigger home-field advantage.
He added: “We have some big games on this field this year. Now it's Friday night lights, lots of excitement with that, and knowing the entire town is literally behind you lifts us.”
Sparta 49, Roxbury 6
S -- Tyler Szabo 51 pass from Austen Frettura (Vinnie DeSimone kick)
S -- Austin Castorina 43 run (DeSimone kick)
S -- Castorina 84 pass from Frettura (DeSimone kick)
S -- Brendan Cina 21 pass from Frettura (DeSimone kick)
S -- Szabo 79 pass from Frettura (DeSimone kick)
S -- Frettura 1 run (DeSimone kick)
R -- Lucas Spitzer 14 run (kick failed)
S -- Tom McGovern 1 run (DeSimone kick)
Records: Sparta 1-1, Roxbury 0-2