LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — There was never any secret about where the Glendale High football team was looking to go with the ball, but that didn't mean La Cañada could stop it.
Of course, Michael Davis is usually the first read of Nitros quarterback Kevin Felix and that combination proved explosive Friday night at La Cañada, as they connected for two touchdown passes in a 21-3 victory over the Spartans (1-1). It's Glendale's first win against a team other than cross-town rival Hoover since Sept. 24, 2009 when it defeated South Pasadena, 28-21.
“It feels good, but we're looking forward to more wins than this,” said Felix, who completed nine of 12 passes for 144 yards and two scores with six of those receptions and 127 of those yards going to Davis. “This is preseason, this just proves what we're going to do later on in the season.”
While the Nitros relied on Felix, Davis and a strong running game — led by senior running back Christian Osorio, who carried the ball 21 times for 94 yards — on offense, it was a total team effort for them defensively. Glendale held La Cañada to just 77 offensive yards with Carlo Maquiddang and Patrick Novshadian recording sacks of eight and nine yards, respectively, for Glendale (1-1).
“Defense did a hell of a job tonight, made a lot of plays for us and everybody was getting after the ball. It was nice to see,” Glendale Coach John Tuttle said.
Glendale paved its way to the end zone on the first drive of the game, which consisted of nine plays (eight rushing, one passing). Osorio broke a 28-yard run on the first play from scrimmage and Glendale's Daniel Jung (34 yards) capped the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run after he also had a 15-yard carry on the drive to give the Nitros a 7-0 lead four minutes and 35 seconds into the game.
La Cañada's offense couldn't get going all game, as its first two drives accounted for a total of just 17 yards. New Spartans Coach James Sims credited the struggles to the team being without its starting center after he was ejected from last week's win over Alhambra, 17-7, and suspended for Friday's game for punching a Moors player.
“We've only got six offensive lineman,” Sims said. “That's my problem, any time we got anybody hurt or something stupid like an ejection it's going to hurt us because we're that thin. Give it to Glendale, they played a hell of a game. They dominated us on both sides of the ball and there's no excuses, they played a good game.”
It wasn't until the Spartans’ third drive of the game that they were able to threaten deep in Glendale territory after the Nitros were forced to punt from their 24-yard line on a three-and-out. Jadon Henry fielded the punt on a bounce and returned it about 20 yards to Glendale's 33-yard line.
La Cañada drove the ball down to the nine-yard line, but only came away with three points on a 29-yard field goal from Mario Del Cueto.
Spartans running back Andy Paynter (50 rushing yards) started strong on the drive with three straight runs for a total of 19 yards. A five-yard scamper from quarterback Matt Jones resulted in third and inches at Glendale's nine-yard line. La Cañada fumbled the ball on the next play before it was recovered by the Spartans' Jackson Harbolt for a three-yard loss, which brought on Del Cueto, who cut the lead to 7-3.
Del Cueto looked to bring La Cañada within one with a 51-yard field goal attempt on the opening drive of the second half but it was well short and wide right. If converted it would have been a school record by two yards.
Two drives later, Felix hit Davis with a 65-yard touchdown pass for a 14-3 advantage with 2:55 to go in the third quarter. The pass was nearly picked off by the La Cañada safety but it found its way safely into Davis' arms, who waltzed his way into the end zone after he beat the corner on a jam at the line of scrimmage.
“I just wanted to make plays, dominate and get touchdowns, get yards,” said Davis, who praised the play of his quarterback. “[Felix] focused tonight, read the defense really well and capitalized.”
Glendale's signal caller and standout wide receiver connected one last time on a 10-yard touchdown pass to cap the scoring and pretty much put the game away with 8:47 to go.
“He's been getting open,” said Felix of Davis, “and later in the season we'll be using him as a decoy and let other receivers get open, but tonight he was all in.”