The La Cañada High football team ran a simple offense against Glendale on Friday. The Spartans had quick handoffs to their fullbacks, had quarterback rollouts and options, and stuck with a basic offense throughout the night.
And the Nitros couldn't stop it.
The Nitros knew that La Cañada liked to run, but it didn't matter. As Glendale Coach Alan Eberhart put it, the nonleague contest was simply about "tackling," and the Nitros couldn't do enough of it.
La Cañada built a 27-point lead in the first half and gave up 17 straight before holding off the Nitros for a 40-17 home win.
"La Cañada is bigger and stronger than we are," Eberhart said. "We couldn't tackle them. It's simple. It's blocking and tackling. It was a great example of a bunch of kids playing simple offense. It's not a scheme. It's just tackling."
The Nitros' tackling issues were especially evident in the first half.
La Cañada's Daleep Sandhu scored the first of his three touchdowns on a four-yard run in the first quarter.
On the Spartans' ensuing possession, Kevin Stoner seemed like he was stopped for a short gain before he emerged from a pack of Nitros and sprinted his way for a 56-yard touchdown run. Two more Spartan scores — including a 41-yard interception return from Michael Arkfeld — gave La Cañada a 27-0 lead.
"We didn't open the bag of tricks at all tonight," La Cañada Coach Dan Yoder said. "This year, we decided we're going to simplify the offense. We found soft spots tonight and we kept hitting them."
Even with a comfortable lead, Yoder wasn't at ease.
"Our guys were walking around too confident," he said.
Linden Anderson scored on a 22-yard pass from Alex Yoon just before the end of the first half to cut into the Spartans' lead. The Spartans (2-0) hurt themselves with three consecutive turnovers that the Nitros turned into nine points in the third quarter to make the score 27-17.
After Anthony Platero had a four-yard rushing touchdown for the Nitros, Arkfeld returned the kickoff 59 yards to Glendale's 25. Four plays later, Sandhu scored his final touchdown to give his team a 33-17 lead. Sandhu finished with 21 carries for 109 yards.
"For us, he's too big, he's too strong and he might be too fast," Eberhart said.
For the Nitros, Yoon ran 22 times for a game-high 156 yards. Unfortunately for the Nitros (0-2), they also had four turnovers. They threw three interceptions, one of which came in the second half, when they were improved, but not yet good enough for a win.
Said Eberhart: "I liked the effort in the second half, but I'm not pleased with the first half."