LA CAÑADA — The La Cañada High football team faced little resistance in its Rio Hondo League opener against visiting Blair on Friday night.
The Spartans’ offense scored at will and on all but two of their possessions en route to a 56-12 win over the Vikings.
A balanced attack exploded for 35 points in the first quarter and resulted in a running clock shortly thereafter, early in the second quarter.
With the team’s next two games coming against defending league champion Monrovia and runner-up San Marino, La Cañada Coach James Sims didn’t hesitate to rest his starters for the entirety of the second half.
“We have two tough games coming up, so it was nice to rest our starters,” said Sims, whose squad surpassed its win total from last season. “We have a hard road, but it’s good to start it off 1-0.”
Senior starting quarterback Robbie Fuelling threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, as he orchestrated an offense that scored more points in the first quarter than it did in any of the previous five games.
Blair fumbled on the game’s opening drive and the Spartans capitalized. Fuelling capped off a four play, 35-yard possession with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Todd Murray. Murray was on the receiving end for 77 of Fuelling’s 89 yards.
The Vikings (0-6, 0-1) answered with a 63-yard touchdown pass from Jeorge Vasquez to Kendall White on fourth down. Vasquez and White connected again late in the fourth quarter for the game’s final score.
La Cañada (3-3, 1-0) needed less than a minute to answer Vasquez’s first touchdown, as Murray’s 45-yard reception set up Fuelling calling his own number and scoring from three yards out to give his squad a 14-6 advantage.
The Spartans stayed on the ground for their next three scores: a 35-yard dash by Donnie Breneman to give La Cañada a 21-6 lead with 2:57 to play in the first, then consecutive touchdowns from Mario Martinez — both set up by interceptions.
Martinez rushed for 50 yards on nine carries. The sophomore was one of nine players to gain positive yardage on the ground, totaling 162 yards.
“We need to come back, practice and watch film,” said Martinez when asked if the potent offense will translate against future opponents. “We have potential. We can do it this year.”
La Cañada’s defense forced five turnovers in the game and held Blair to 82 yards in the first half — 63 coming on the White touchdown.
An eight-yard touchdown from Fuelling to Trent Bauer and a nine-yard touchdown run from John Sotoodeh gave the Spartans a comfortable 49-6 lead at the half.
The running clock allowed for only three possessions in the second half, with the teams trading touchdowns and La Cañada using the running game to close it out.
“We’re really solid offensively,” Fuelling said. “The offensive line, our receivers, backs and myself are meshing really well. We’re working hard, improving and need to get ready for San Marino.”
Despite the onslaught on offense and the relentless defense, the Spartans hurt themselves with numerous penalties, one of which nullified a Martinez 50-yard touchdown run as time expired in the first half. After the game, Sims said penalties will, and have, hurt the team against more formidable opponents.
“We gotta clean it up,” he said. “They killed us against CV and Arroyo.”