A La Cañada High football team looking to pick up its first victory in two seasons has a schedule with a few challenges, but also with plenty of opportunities to pick up a much-needed victory.
Last season, the Spartans suffered a 0-10 campaign against a challenging schedule.
La Cañada’s slate featured nine .500 or better teams, seven postseason programsand seven squads with winning marks that produced a 66-42 record.
This season, the schedule is toned down with five .500 squads, four winning records and four playoff teams. The record of La Cañada’s 10 opponents from last year is 45-56 and includes two squads with one or fewer victories.
Maybe the biggest change is the start as La Cañada opens the season on its earliest date this century, Aug. 17. For reference points, the Spartans opened the 2003 season on Sept. 12, the 2008 campaign on Sept. 11 and the 2013 schedule on Sept. 6.
“The season is already creeping up on us,” La Cañada second-year coach Jason Sarceda said. “We’ve never started this early. It’s just different.”
Another interesting tweak comes in an omission as the Spartans will not take part in the Gordy Warnock Memorial Game against Crescenta Valley for the first time this century.
As for the zero week opponent Aug. 17, the Spartans will face a squad that also faced adversity in Hoover High. The Tornadoes will host La Cañada on campus at 5 p.m.
“I think it’s going to be a good game for us and I’m definitely looking forward to it,” Sarceda said. “We’d love to start with a win and we have a chance. Right now, we’re focusing on Hoover and getting that win.”
Hoover finished 1-8 last season with its lone victory coming in the season finale versus crosstown archrival Glendale, 35-25.
While La Cañada has a long history against Glendale, this match-up is the first for the Spartans versus the Tornadoes since La Cañada beat Hoover, 36-21, in 2002. The Spartans are 2-0 against the Tornadoes this century.
Following the Hoover contest, La Cañada opens the home portion of its schedule Friday, Aug. 24 versus Santa Paula at 7 p.m.
Santa Paula is the first of four straight nonleague opponents that the Spartans have not faced this century.
The Cardinals finished 5-5 last season and last in the powerful Tri-Valley League, which produced two state bowl qualifiers.
From there, the Spartans take part in their only Saturday contest on Sept. 1 as they travel to Occidental College to take on reigning Prep League champion Pasadena Poly.
The Panthers finished 8-2-1 last season with one of their two defeats to the Rio Hondo League’s Temple City, 20-7.
“Hey man, Poly is a tough little team that’s well-coached,” Sarceda said. “They’re successful at everything they do and we thought that would be a good matchup for us. It’s a local team, local game and one I hope we can compete with.”
La Cañada returns home Friday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. to take on the Frontier League’s Fillmore, which also finished 0-10 last season and is on an 11-game losing streak.
The following Friday, the Spartans host Montebello Cantwell Sacred Heart on Sept. 14 at Friday.
The Cardinals are one of two Whittier-area squads on the Spartans’ schedule and are coming off a 6-5 season and a South Catholic League title.
La Cañada’s nonleague finale comes Thursday, Sept. 20 at Whittier Pioneer High. The Titans finished 3-7 last season and in last place in the usually competitive Del Rio League.
At the conclusion of the nonleague slate, the Spartans will take a bye before opening the Rio Hondo League. For a second straight season, La Cañada will play a four-game league season as Blair is not expected to field a squad.
The Spartans open with the tougher part of the schedule by hosting league runner-up San Marino on Oct. 5.
The Titans finished 8-3 last season and advanced to the second round of the Division VI playoffs.
La Cañada lost to San Marino, 55-0, last season. The Spartans’ last win, however, was Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 when the squad upset San Marino, 28-13, in the 2016 finale to earn a tie for second place.
After that contest, La Cañada ventures to Rio Hondo League champion Monrovia on Oct. 12. The Wildcats are the two-time defending league champions and posted a 4-7 record last season.
In 2017, Monrovia defeated La Cañada, 61-7, as the Wildcats have defeated the Spartans 12 straight seasons dating back to 2005.
La Cañada then heads into its home finale Oct. 19 when it hosts South Pasadena, which posted a 5-5 season and finished fourth in league.
The Tigers topped the Spartans, 41-6, last year and have won three straight contests in the rivalry.
To end the regular season, the Spartans close out on Oct. 26 at Temple City, which concluded last season with a 4-6 record and a 24-7 triumph over La Cañada.
“For us, it’s a rebuilding year,” Sarceda said. “We still have a lot of work to do, but I really like our schedule. I think we can get some wins and continue to build.”
2018 Spartans Schedule
at. Hoover, Friday, Aug. 17, 5 p.m.
vs. Santa Paula, Friday, Aug. 24, 7 p.m.
vs. Pasadena Poly at Occidental College, Saturday, Sept. 1, 1 p.m.
vs. Fillmore, Friday, Sept. 7, 7 p.m.
vs. Cantwell Sacred Heart, Friday, Sept. 14, 7 p.m.
at Pioneer, Thursday, Sept. 20, 7 p.m.
vs. San Marino, Friday, Oct. 5, 7 p.m.*
at Monrovia, Friday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m.*
vs. South Pasadena, Friday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m.*
at Temple City, Friday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.*