Season ends with playoff loss

Gatorade baths are usually reserved for winning coaches.

Still, La Cañada High's Dan Yoder got an early shower following his team's 42-14 loss to Covina in the first round CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoff game Friday night.

Covina (10-1), the fourth-seeded team in the division, had La Cañada (5-6) backpedaling early. Billy Livingston, Covina's quarterback, put the Colts on the board seven plays after the opening kickoff when he hit receiver Randy Robledo with a 10-yard touchdown pass for a quick 7-0 lead.

Yoder felt his team started out the game flat.

"They just marched it right down the field on us and kind of got us on our heels early and we just never recovered," Yoder said. "When a team like that gets you going backwards early it's really hard to dig in and go the other way."

Livingston finished the game with 213 passing yards and four touchdowns. Colts wideout Vinny Venegas had three touchdown receptions and 87 yards.

The game was all but won at the halfway mark, as Covina took a 35-0 lead at the end of the second quarter.

Spartans running back Daleep Sandhu brought his team to life for the first time late in the third quarter. Sandhu took an option-pitch 15 yards for a touchdown, dragging several would-be tacklers into the end zone with him. The score cut the Colt's lead to 42-6 following a missed extra point.

"They rallied off of that and started to play with a lot of class and a lot of heart," Yoder said. "That I was really proud of."

Sandhu finished the game with 83 total yards (70 rushing and 13 receiving) and a touchdown. It was La Cañada's first playoff touchdown in 10 years.

After the score, Sandhu ran to his coach and told him there was no way he wasn't going to score.

"That was pretty clear by the way he ran the ball," Yoder said.

Sandhu sparked another Spartan drive with time expiring in the fourth quarter, breaking a 33-yard run to put his team at Covina's 12-yard line. La Cañada fullback Chris Bache brought the Spartans to the 2-yard line, taking the ball 11 yards on two straight runs for just his second and third touches of the season.

La Cañada's quarterback Scott Gray made the drive count, scoring on a one-yard keeper with 17 seconds left in the game.

Yoder was happy to see his quarterback get into the end zone after playing through an injury the entire game.

"He has become an incredibly gutsy young man," Yoder said. "Watching him grow the last three years has been really amazing. He didn't have that kind of composure before."

The Spartans botched another extra point attempt following the score. The holder mishandled the snap and shoveled the ball to kicker Franklin Cervenka. Cervenka turned the mistake in La Cañada's favor, rolling all the way to the other side of the field and past the goal line, bringing the score to 42-14 on the two-point conversion.

La Cañada fell short of its target of advancing in the playoffs. However, work toward meeting that goal next season starts soon for the Spartans.

"It's what you do in the offseason that makes the difference," Yoder said. "You don't win playoff games on Friday nights, you win them in January. This senior group set a pretty good example, it's up to the following classes to take their example up a notch."

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