The La Cañada High football team was hoping for a win on the road that would give it some much-needed momentum heading into league play.
Instead, the Spartans will be heading into Rio Hondo League action this week on a three-game losing streak after falling to Arroyo, 26-7, Friday night.
Many of the Spartans were limping into the game because of injuries, many to key players. Starting offensive tackle Will Kavich and quarterback Scott Gray both sat out Friday's game with injuries sustained a week ago against Pasadena Maranatha.
"I don't want to use it as an excuse, but we were pretty beat up last week," Spartans Coach Dan Yoder said. "Some of the guys up front were new and out of position a little. We had some injuries and some illnesses that hurt us."
Sophomore Matt Jones was called on to fill Gray's shoes.
"I was impressed, he did a lot of things right; but it's still his first Friday night," Yoder said.
Jones completed one of six pass attempts for three yards, carrying the ball six times for 28 yards. Not much was available for any of the other Spartans on offense, despite using their version of the wildcat, with Michael Arkfeld taking direct snaps from center. La Cañada's offense was able to manufacture just 83 yards on the night.
The Spartans defense enjoyed some first-half success, however, creating three turnovers.
La Cañada's lone touchdown came with 5:18 left in the second quarter when Daleep Sandhu came up with an interception and returned it 57 yards for a touchdown, putting his team to within three,10-7.
As soon as the Knights (4-1) got the ball back, Arroyo quarterback Steven Rivera threw another interception. This time Derek Georgino came up with it, placing the Spartans at Arroyo's 45-yard line. The offense was unable to do anything with the good field position, punting the ball three plays later and entering halftime still down, 10-7.
"At the half we were feeling pretty good, we had done some things right," Yoder said. "The offense hadn't gotten in the end zone yet, but I thought if we could fix a few things we'd be all right. We shored up some of the blocking schemes and talked about our routes and thought those would open some things up for us, but that just didn't get it done."
The offense came up empty again in the second half, moving the chains just four times while going three-and-out six times the entire night. Unfortunately for the Spartans' defense, Rivera was done making mistakes, too.
Rivera finished the game 15 of 24 with 264 passing yards and two touchdowns. Anthony Miller was Rivera's favorite receiver, catching eight balls for 168 yards and a touchdown.
La Cañada (2-3) remained in striking distance most of the night, as the Knights settled for field goals on two of their drives. The dagger came with 1:36 left in the third quarter when Rivera threw a short pass over the middle to Miller, who beat his man and took the ball 63 yards for a touchdown and put Arroyo up, 20-7.
"We were hoping to get a win tonight and turn that into a little momentum going into league," Yoder said. "Now we have to turn it the other way and use it as fire."
The Spartans start league play against South Pasadena (3-2). La Cañada will hope for a win so they can enjoy homecoming night.