MONROVIA — The La Cañada High football team headed to Monrovia for its first away Rio Hondo League game of the season, and the Spartans knew they were about face an athletic Wildcats squad.
But as the two teams faced off on the field, in the distance, lightning strikes wreaked havoc and caused trouble across Southern California.
Much like the rest of the area, La Cañada and Monrovia couldn’t avoid the pesky weather, and due to the lightning strikes, the two schools’ officials decided to call the game at halftime.
The second half will not be made up and Monrovia will be credited with a 42-0 victory.
Although rain didn’t start to fall until halftime, due to CIF regulations, both school athletic administrators agreed to call game and officially give Monrovia the win.
“I came out of the locker room getting ready to start the second half and they cancelled it,” La Cañada coach Jason Sarceda said. “I get it. I understand.”
Monrovia scored 21 points in each quarter and picked off three interceptions.
“All I told them in the locker room was finish with heart,” Sarceda said. “Just finish the second half like it was a 0-0 score and come out with fire and just try to execute and win the second half.”
Though La Cañada turned the ball over three times, the Spartans were able to force the Wildcats to turn the ball over on downs twice.
Despite that, the Spartans weren’t able to kick things off on offense as they registered four three-and-outs on nine tries before the game was called.
Knowing they faced tough competition, the Spartans (1-7, 0-2 in league) were able to force three straight incomplete passes on Monrovia quarterback Nick Hernandez before the Wildcats had to punt on their opening drive.
“[We planned to] pressure man and put seven in the box to stop the run, which they were passing on us,” Sarceda said. “We knew we were giving up that, and we were stopping that for a minute, but once they became comfortable, they started their run game going.”
The Spartans were able to convert on fourth-and-five on their first drive, but the possession ended with a Monrovia (4-4, 3-0) interception which was returned for a 36-yard touchdown and the 7-0 Wildcats lead with 8:01 left in the first.
The ensuing La Cañada drive ended on a three-and-out punt, and Monrovia moved down the field quickly to score on a 45-yard touchdown pass for a 14-0 lead with 5:26 left in the first.
All this time, lightning bolts thundered down in the backdrop, but none of the referees saw fit to call game since conditions were still dry.
Nevertheless, Monrovia continued its short, scoring drives and capped a three-play, 1:02 minute drive with a 43-yard touchdown run for the 21-0 lead with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
The Spartans threw another interception from its 26-yard line less than a minute later. But the Wildcats weren’t able to capitalize and turned the ball over on downs on the La Cañada 19.
A short La Cañada punt gave Monrovia great field position to start the second quarter, and the Wildcats scored two plays later on a 26-yard touchdown reception for a 28-0 lead with seven seconds gone.
The Spartans were picked off again on their next drive, and the Wildcats went on to score on a 12-yard pass with 10:26 left in the half for a 35-0 advantage.
Monrovia turned the ball over on downs again with 5:49 left in the half, but La Cañada couldn’t work the ball and punted after three plays.