Spartans chalk up victory

La Cañada High's Scott Gray came back to the sideline and apologized to his coach for a broken play in the team's season opener Thursday against Alhambra.

It wasn't too difficult for Spartans football Coach Dan Yoder to forgive him, considering the drawn-up pass play instead became a 15-yard scramble, good for the first touchdown of a game that ended with a 17-0 La Cañada victory.

When Gray, the Spartans' quarterback, rolled out to pass he saw a clear lane into the endzone, and he waltzed in untouched.

"I saw it was wide open and I knew I could get there before anyone could tackle me," said Gray, who finished the game with both a passing and rushing touchdown. "Might as well, right?"

The touchdown came on La Cañada's opening drive of the second half, which was powered by Spartan running back Daleep Sandhu, who on fourth-and-one carried the ball for a 20-yard gain from Alhambra's 40-yard line into the red zone.

"That kid really put it on his shoulders tonight," Yoder said of Sandhu. "We've been asking him to establish the run and he really responded to that call tonight."

Sandhu gave all credit to the guys in front of him who led the way.

"The line played great," said Sandhu, who rushed for 107 yards. "They work harder than anybody else on the team. That's why after any good run I ever have I thank my line. I can't do it without them."

After struggling to find a rhythm to start the game, things started rolling for the Spartans' offense in the second half, when they figured out the Moors' defensive scheme, Sandhu said.

Still, the win belonged to the defense, he said.

The Spartans' defense kept the pressure on after Gray's first touchdown when Michael Arkfeld came up with an interception, forcing their second turnover of the game.

"What really impressed me the most [about the defense] is these guys did their jobs," Yoder said. "In the past what's caused us problems is we get out of position and try to do someone else's job."

After the pick, La Cañada marched the ball back down the field, capping the drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Gray to Arkfeld, putting them up, 14-0, in the fourth quarter.

"We're a driving offense," Gray said. "We don't come up with that one big play, …it's important for our defense to get us the ball because we need a lot of time. I give the win to the defense, hands down."

Both defenses started out strong, but Alhambra faltered as Sandhu ran for 100 yards and the Spartans put up all 17 points in the second half.

On the other hand, La Cañada's defense finished the way they started, with a shutout and two forced turnovers.

"I've never seen them play quite that well together as a team," Yoder said. "They've played well together before but not like that."

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