The La Cañada High School varsity football program has accomplished several feats this season, such as winning its first season opener since 2016. However, none was sweeter for LCHS head coach Jason Sarceda than what his team pulled off on homecoming night last Friday.
The Spartans buckled down in the final quarter and came out on top of a seesaw battle against visiting Temple City, 56-42, in the teams’ Rio Hondo League opener.
Trailing 42-41 in the fourth, La Cañada (5-2 overall record, 1-0 in league) scored two touchdowns and forced two turnovers for its first league win in three years. The Spartans’ 56 points in the game is the most they have ever scored against Temple City since the teams began competing in 1963. The previous record was set in 2011 when La Cañada defeated the Rams 44-27.
“Man, it was much-needed,” said Sarceda, who snapped an eight-game losing streak in league play. “We have our goals set, and every week we just want to go 1-0. That was a really tough one.
“It’s a great win for us as a team. It took all of us to step up our game. They were able to come back, but our guys came in and stepped up. We have lots of guys willing to step up.”
Justin Zoltzman certainly rose to the occasion and was named player of the game by the coaches. He caught a touchdown pass from Brandon Reese, intercepted a pass on defense and returned it for a score, and returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
Reese continues to impress his coaches, throwing for 150 yards and four touchdowns. Dezin Delgatty and Walker Baggett caught touchdown passes, and Jacob Hardy crossed the century mark again in rushing yards and scored.
“[Reese] is definitely starting to make his reads a lot cleaner and throwing the ball better,” Sarceda said. “He’s progressing nicely and has really stepped up.”
The LCHS head coach admitted that mistakes were made, allowing Temple City (2-3 overall, 0-1 in league) to keep the game close. However, Sarceda was proud of his young players for making clutch plays down the stretch.
“I feel like our guys are resilient and very competitive,” Sarceda said. “We have all the things we need, we just have to play four-quarter football and follow through. We have a lot of young guys. A lot of times, we were out of position. When we buckle down and play our football, we’re a solid unit on both sides of the ball.”
Griffin Dilbeck recorded two sacks and Maximo Mora had one. Mario Colon led the defense with 13 tackles and Delgatty recorded 10. Luke Fogarty finished with eight tackles, and Brandon Shepherd and Zoltzman contributed six tackles each.
The Spartans will take a break this week and return to action on Friday, Oct. 18, when they travel to San Marino for a league game.
“It’s really good for us,” Sarceda said. “We need to heal up on injuries and from the flu. We need to tighten up on stuff defensively and tone up our game plan. We’re going to get ready for San Marino and we want to go 1-0 again.”