Few big plays not enough for La Canada football

ARROYO — Three consecutive plays early in the third quarter by the La Cañada High football team against Arroyo on Friday night certainly made the squad's highlight reel.

First, the Spartans' Andy Paynter ran the ball 59 yards for a touchdown. On Arroyo's first play of the following drive, La Cañada defensive lineman Durresa Hinika blew through the offensive line to drop Knights running back Peter Aholoka for a three-yard loss. On the next play, the Spartans' Jadon Henry picked off a pass from Arroyo quarterback Nathan Coto.

Unfortunately, those three big plays were the exception Friday as La Cañada fell to Arroyo, 45-7, on the road.

The loss drops the Spartans, who have lost four straight, to 1-4.

“We're coming out flat,” said La Cañada Coach James Sims of what he told his team at halftime. “We're not playing football. And I'm telling you, it's not the system. It's not what we're doing, because in the second half of every game, you guys are able to perform. It's a habit.

“We are a fourth-quarter football team. There's four quarters of football.”

Paynter, who finished with 82 yards and a touchdown in 18 carries, said that some of the more inexperienced players enter games intimidated and don't play well until after taking a few hits.

“We've just got to put on our big-boy pants,” Paynter said. “I think we're coming into the game and we're intimidated by size.”

The Knights opened the game with a seven-play, nearly five-minute drive that resulted in an Aholoka touchdown. Aholoka added another score as time expired in the first quarter to give his team a 14-0 advantage.

Following a Spartan fumble early in the second period, it was Aholoka again visiting the end zone. Arroyo (3-2) added two more touchdowns — a Coto pass to Andre Kerkhoff and a Kerkoff interception return — to take a 35-0 lead into halftime.

La Cañada came out strong in the third quarter, capping its opening drive with Paynter's touchdown run.

“Everyone did their job,” Paynter said of the play. “It was perfect. That's the way it should be.”

Arroyo's Jesus Cavillo capped the scoring late in the third to seal the contest at 42-7.

Aholoka finished with 114 yards and three touchdowns in 16 carries.

With Rio Hondo League play opening next week, Sims believes his team can make some noise if it puts together four quarters of solid play.

“I said anything’s possible,” Sims said. “If you guys decide to play as a team, play the entire game, anything is possible. I said you guys can get into this league and shock some people. Everybody's going to doubt you.”

Hinika stressed playing hard from the first whistle.

“We've just got to learn to play solid throughout the whole game,” Hinika said. “You can't start at halftime.”

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