LA CAÑADA — Aspirations of turning around a woeful season were quickly deflated for the La Cañada High football team.
In their Rio Hondo League tilt with visiting Monrovia, the Spartans gave up a touchdown on the game's opening kickoff and trailed before the fans could even settle into their seats.
It wouldn't get any better for an inexperienced, rebuilding La Cañada team that remained winless on the season after a 61-7 loss Friday night.
The defeat marked the 12th consecutive to the Wildcats. La Cañada played its league foe tight last season. However, a lot has changed for the Spartans program in one year.
"Tough be to under," said Spartans Coach Jason Sarceda when asked about the slow start. "We try to fire off the ball. We're mixing and matching inexperienced players but they're stepping up and rising, showing a lot of heart and fighting."
As La Cañada's offense struggled to move the ball, Monrovia had no such trouble, scoring on all but one first-half possession to take a 48-0 lead into halftime.
Michael Washington ensured his team would lead wire-to-wire with the 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown 16 seconds into the game. A healthy complement of run and pass had the Wildcats feeling comfortable on offense thereafter.
"We've been starting slow," Monrovia Coach Jerry Chou said. "We wanted to play from in front instead of behind."
Monrovia's Nicco Ferro scored four touchdowns in the half on his way to 123 yards on 10 carries.
Meanwhile, the Spartans (0-7, 0-2 in league) offense couldn't keep up; instead totaling 52 yards of total offense with three first downs and two turnovers at the end of a first half they trailed 48-0.
A pick-six thrown by Eric Helbing intended for John Humphrey was insult to injury as the half's final score.
For the game, the senior threw for 74 yards on 13 completions - 11 to Humphrey and Nick Cozzie.
Helbing provided some silver lining to the night, when he scampered 26 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown with 8:15 to play in the game. La Cañada hadn't scored the previous two games and 11 previous quarters.
The excitement was short-lived as Monrovia (2-5, 2-0) took the ensuing kickoff for another touchdown, this time by Jordan Erby.
The Spartans put together another solid drive, taking up 10 plays on mostly short passes but ultimately ending in a turnover on downs. Monrovia kneeled twice to end the game in which the second half saw a running clock throughout.
"Couple drives there were decent," Sarceda said. "We want to stay consistent, get better play by play, game by game."