The off-season has brought plenty of changes for the La Cañada High boys' golf program. The previously co-ed team has dissolved into separate teams, and the Spartan boys are missing their star from last season, Anton Arboleda.
Arboleda was one of the most dominating weapons Spartans' golf has ever had. He was crowned the Glendora High School Invitational champion, Rio Hondo League champion, the league's most valuable golfer and All-Area Golfer of the Year during his senior season last year.
The Spartans won the Rio Hondo League championship last year, and Arboleda went deep in the CIF Individual playoffs. He placed 17th out of 123 players in the CIF Southern California Golf Assn. High School Championship, missing the cut for the state championship by two strokes.
The challenge posed to the La Cañada team this year would seem to be recovering from the loss of Arboleda. Spartans Coach Richard Tetu doesn't anticipate it being too difficult to move on without the player he called the best golfer he's ever had, from tee to green.
"I don't have a player that's quite the quality as Anton, but I do have pretty good depth," said Tetu, adding that he has about 10 players who could possibly break 80 this year.
La Cañada has won the Rio Hondo League championship for the past six years, and Tetu would be disappointed if this year were any different. When it comes down to it, he prefers this year's lineup over last season's.
"I prefer the consistency because come playoff time, if you don't have six guys who can shoot in the 70s, you're not going to advance," he said. "I think I might have that this year."
Tetu has so much talent this year that he doesn't quite know what to do with it all.
"It's possible I may have a different starting lineup every day," he said.
Senior Derek Patao, an All-Area first-team pick last year, will lead La Cañada, along with fellow senior co-captain Brian Park. Patao finished third in Rio Hondo League last year, and Park shoots in the 80s, although he hadn't started many varsity matches before this year.
Jay Lim, a senior, and sophomore Noah Bernstein stand to be the Spartans' statistical leaders this year. Sophomore Daniel Rhee will also be an integral part of the team's success, Tetu said.
"All those guys could make the [CIF] Individuals, and the depth of the team may get us further in the team playoffs than we have been the last several years," Tetu said.