It was a perfect start to the football season for La Cañada and Glendale highs last week.
Both teams won their respective season-opener, but Saturday in a nonleague game at La Cañada High, one of the teams had to see their fine start vanish.
It was La Cañada that came out triumphant with a 33-3 victory against Glendale, as the key to the Spartans’ success came through their defense.
The Spartans gave up just 86 yards of total offense to the Nitros, who also failed to complete a pass.
“We figured they were going to run the ball,” Spartans coach Jason Sarceda said. “We exchanged films and they’re 90% runs, so we knew we had to stop the runs. It’s unfortunate that some of their guys got taken out early, but that was the game plan for us, which was to stop the run.”
With the victory, the Spartans are now 2-0 for the first time since 2014. The loss drops the Nitros to 1-1.
La Cañada quarterback Brandon Reese led the offense with 222 yards, two touchdowns and one interception on 16-of-27 passing. Receiver Justin Zoltzman caught six passes for 82 yards and a touchdown, while Dezin Delgatty totaled two receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Spartans running back Jacob Hardy recorded eight carries for 34 yards and a touchdown to go along with five receptions for 48 yards.
Glendale took advantage of a La Cañada’s turnover on downs midway in the first quarter and benefited on a pass-interference call late in its drive to set up a 40-yard field goal drained by Edgar Ovasapyan to give the Spartans a 3-0 lead at 2:29 left.
It didn’t take long for the Spartans to respond, as a Reese pass to Delgatty resulted in an 81-yard touchdown run to give the Spartans a 7-3 advantage with 1:29 left in the first.
“Last week, we started off a little slow in the first half,” Reese said. “This week, we had to make sure that didn’t happen because Glendale’s a good team. We had to come out and we had to fight hard.”
The Spartans used up 4:43 in the second quarter to set up a 40-yard field goal by kicker Andy Kozanian to take a 10-3 lead at the 3:08 mark of the second quarter.
Glendale went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, only to see its punt blocked by Spartans sophomore Brandon Shepherd to set up the hosts at the Glendale 19-yard line.
“That’s what we call ‘Dark Side Defense,’” Reese said.
Glendale was hit with a roughing-the-kicker penalty on a 43-yard field-goal attempt and La Cañada took full advantage, as Jacob Hardy scored on a three-yard run to make it 16-3 with 36.2 left before halftime.
“La Cañada came ready to go,” Glendale coach Cary Harris said. “We had some injuries, but you still have to play football. Injuries happen in football, so it’s next man up. La Cañada came out and won the football game. They did a great job.”
A Glendale player was injured on the extra-point attempt, and after a 15-minute delay, the half came to a close without the PAT attempt. Paramedics were called onto the field to attend to defensive back Dino Villalobos, whose condition has improved since the incident, Harris said.
The Spartans came out of the locker room to convert the PAT and complete the second quarter and followed up with a 12-play to start the second half. An 11-yard pass from Reese to Zoltzman gave the Spartans a 23-3 lead at 7:58 in the third.
Reese saw his pass intercepted by Glendale’s David Ruiz with 4:55 left in the third, but with ball spotted at the Glendale 1-yard line, the Spartans defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Mario Colon for a touchdown that put the hosts up, 30-3, with 4:48 to go in the third.
Kozanian knocked down his second field goal of the game from 33 yards out to give La Cañada a 33-3 lead with 9:01 remaining.