SOUTH PASADENA —Positive signs could be taken despite another lopsided loss for the La Cañada High football team on Friday night at South Pasadena.
In arguably their most competitive game of the season, the Spartans were defeated, 41-6, by the Tigers to stay winless on the season.
But while it won't appear evident in the statistics, coach Jason Sarceda liked what he saw from his team with an improved offense and defense.
"Kids are stepping up and getting better day by day," said Sarceda after the Spartans allowed less than 50 points for the first time this year. "The outcome doesn't show it, but they're playing with a lot of heart. We're showing positives and new guys are stepping up."
Sarceda went to quarterback Matthew Bromley late in the second quarter, giving starter Eric Helbing a breather. Bromley played well in passing for 143 yards on eight completions.
The junior was instrumental in La Cañada's lone scoring drive, a six-play, 89-yard drive to start the second half, highlighted by a 40-yard catch and run to Ju-Whan Chung.
Chung capped the scoring drive with an eight-yard rushing touchdown with 9:47 in the third quarter.
The Spartans gained 88 yards of total offense on the drive after amounting just 50 yards in the entire first half.
Spartan Elijah Carruthers led all receivers with 99 yards on five receptions.
"Helbing is a heck of a kid who plays everywhere for us: defensive end, punter," Sarceda said when asked about the change at quarterback. "He needed a break and we know Bromley can throw the ball. We're comfortable with using either one of them and they're like brothers to one another."
The Spartans (0-8, 0-3 in league) trailed 27-6, as the first half was marred by poor finishes to the first and second quarters.
South Pasadena (5-4, 1-2) scored the first points of the game on a Sidney Luna-Long (72 yards on seven carries) touchdown with 2:14 left to play in the first. A Helbing pass was intercepted on the next possession, giving the Tigers the ball on La Cañada's 21. Less than two minutes after the game's first touchdown, Ivan Estrada (126 yards on nine carries) capitalized on the turnover, increasing the Tigers’ lead to 13-0.
With nine seconds left in the half, Luna-Long scored his second touchdown for a 27-0 lead.
Chung's touchdown sparked the Spartans, but the Tigers responded with a a 72-yard dash by Estrada, regaining momentum with a 34-6 advantage.
"It's tough when you haven't won a game," Sarceda said. "To keep their spirits high through the adversity shows a lot of heart."