LA CAÑADA — With a solid running game already, the La Cañada High football team wanted to test out its passing game in a home nonleague game against New Design Watts on Friday.
Spartans coach Jason Sarceda and his staff got much more than that.
The La Cañada special teams scored on the opening kick-off return and the passing game proved impressive in a 37-6 win against the Knights.
“We tightened up after that,” Sarceda said. “Our special teams has been struggling a little bit, so we made some adjustments, coaching staff-wise, and I think it showed tonight.”
It was the first win of the season for the Spartans, who ended a 14-game losing streak tat dated back to 2016. La Cañada improved to 1-4 and New Design Watts fell to 0-3.
Spartans quarterback Matt Bromley completed five of eight passes for 68 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Receiver Justin Zoltzman caught three passes for 51 yards and two touchdowns.
“Bromley’s stepping up,” Sarceda said. “Being able to deliver the ball helps us. Running game has been strong all season, we just have to continue to get better, and we eliminated our errors.”
Sophomore Dezin Delgatty found some space down the middle and put the Spartans on the board with a 54-yard kick-off return within 10 seconds of the game.
“I was really proud of Delgatty,” Sarceda said. “A sophomore stepping up playing defense and offense. Scored that touchdown; he’s a stud.”
After turning the ball over on their second drive, Bromley found Zoltzman for a 23-yard touchdown pass after a personal foul pegged the Spartans back.
“After practice Thursday, [our new quarterback coach] told us we’d stay after and work our routes, our timing and our chemistry as quarterbacks and receivers,” Bromley said. “That really helped us.”
The Knights struggled to get out of their half of the field, and eventually, the Spartans were able to capitalize.
Bromley threw his second touchdown pass down the middle to Walker Baggett just shortly before the second quarter to make it a three-score game, 21-0.
“We’ve been trying to get him more comfortable throwing the ball,” Sarceda said. “We know we. can run the ball, so we just want to be able to get some passes out there so he feels more comfortable [on the field].”
When the Knights took over in the second quarter, the Spartans defense nearly did its part to regain possession, but a roughing-the-passer penalty and a pass-interference call pushed New Design Watts up field.
Knights quarterback Brian Wise took advantage off a scramble in the hole and ran home for a 38-yard touchdown to put his team on the board early in the second quarter, 21-6.
Bromley was picked off right after, but the Knights were forced to punt on their ensuing possession.
The Spartans marched down and nearly missed an opportunity to score because of a false start penalty, but Zoltzman juggled the ball into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown reception before halftime.
At the half it was 28-6 Spartans.
“We got closer throwing every day,” said Zoltzman on his chemistry with Bromley. “Working after practice, throwing as much to create that connection.”
La Cañada running backs Joe Travis and Cameron Carey combined for 61 yards before Jacob Hardy capped the third-quarter drive with a six-yard touchdown run.