La Canada football nabs first Rio Hondo win over Blair

PASADENA — In what has been a disappointing season, the La Canada High football had two major objectives heading into the season finale.

Needless to say, the first was to win the game and finish on a high note, which the Spartans did with a 42-0 win over Blair at Muir High School Friday night.

The second was to make sure senior running back Andy Paynter became the first rusher in seven seasons to run pass the 1,000-yard mark, which he did with a 216-yard performance against the Vikings.

Paynter scored four of La Canada’s six touchdowns. The 216 yards came on 28 carries. After the game, the co-captain showed a somber mood.

“I’m sad that I’ll never play football again, but it’s the best way I could possibly go out,” Paynter said. “I wish the season had gone a little better, but it’s nice to know that the time spent in the weight room during the offseason paid off.”

Paynter and the Spartans snapped an eight-game losing streak at Blair’s expense. Both programs are in rebuilding mode as La Canada finished the season at 2-8 and 1-4 in league. The Vikings finished the season winless, having now lost 19 in a row.

While it was La Canada’s running game that proved relentless against the Vikings defense, it was a 59-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Robbie Fuelling to Mario Del Cueto that put the Spartans on the scoreboard with eight minutes remaining in the first remaining.

Fuelling and Del Cueto connected twice for 87 yards.

From there, Paynter and the Spartans defense took over. By halftime, La Canada held a 21-0 lead on two touchdowns of three yards and 14 yards, respectively, from Paynter. On the other hand, Blair mustered up two yards of total offense in the first 16 minutes of play.

The Spartans relied on Paynter to finish off their first two drives of the second half and the senior delivered, scoring his third and fourth touchdowns to increase La Canada’s lead to 35-0 with 3:34 remaining in the third quarter.

Another co-captain, Matt Jones, put an end to the scoring with a 22-yard dash late in the fourth quarter. The 42 points are La Canada’s highest point total of the season.

Blair hasn’t scored a point since a 54-14 loss to Frederick Douglass Academy on Sept. 14. The Spartans were the latest team to overwhelm the Vikings offense, giving up just seven yards of total offense in the game and forcing three turnovers — all interceptions by co-captain Grant Owen.

First-year Spartans Coach James Sims said the team will waste no time in building on the victory and wants his players to hit the weight room on Monday.

“We knew it was going to be a tough season — maybe not this tough — but we only had seven players who had varsity experience,” Sims said. “Our JV and freshman squads each went 7-3 so we’re looking forward to them coming back.”

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