Spartans Edged 36-30 by South Pas in Opener

Photo by Eric Danielson / Outlook Valley Sun
The La Cañada senior also contributed two receptions for 23 yards in a 36-30 loss to South Pasadena last Friday.

The La Cañada High School football team has been preparing for its season opener for more than a year and it showed.
The Spartan offense showed a versatility it hasn’t displayed in years and came out swinging against South Pasadena with quarterback Ivan Ostry behind center. However, the Tigers’ defense outlasted the talented senior signal-caller and handed La Cañada a 36-30 loss at home last Friday.
“I’m proud of our boys,” said LCHS head coach Jason Sarceda. “We’re extremely young up front starting freshmen and sophomores on the line. They’re gritty, though.”
Despite their youth, the Spartans showed moments of maturity giving Ostry just enough room to do what he does best: run the football. The senior — who transferred from Rosemead High after the El Monte Union School District canceled fall athletics — opened the Spartans’ first second-half drive with a 54-yard run and capped it with a 22-yard touchdown pass to senior Dezin Delgatty. The Spartans (0-1 overall record) converted the two-point conversion to take a 30-21 lead midway through the third quarter.
The Spartan defense came through with a big stop on the ensuing drive, but the momentum quickly shifted in favor of the Tigers when Ostry’s pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by defensive back Richard Conti with 28 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
South Pasadena’s defense made some adjustments and held Ostry at bay in the final quarter, forcing a turnover on downs.
On third down and long from their 17-yard line, Tigers quarterback Noah Aragon connected with Conti for a short hitch that resulted in an 83-yard touchdown and gave the visitors a 36-30 lead with 7:51 remaining in the contest.
“They had some big plays,” Sarceda said. “I never thought that hitch would go for so many yards. That turned the game. We gotta rally up and tackle. It’d be a different ballgame if we rally up and tackle him.”
La Cañada threatened to come back by marching into Tigers territory late in the fourth quarter. An exhausted Ostry showed his athleticism with a big run that would have placed the Spartans in a good position to score but a holding call pushed them back to South Pasadena’s 42-yard line. Two plays later, senior Zazriel King picked off the LCHS quarterback with 2:49 remaining and the Tigers offense ran out the clock for a hard-earned victory.
“He’s a heck of an athlete,” SPHS head coach Jeff Chi said of Ostry. “He just needs to not do too much. I know he got tired doing too much and that helped us out. He gave our defense a headache, but we made an adjustment and really protected the perimeter so he didn’t go wild.”
Ostry completed seven of 18 passes for 80 yards, a touchdown and three interceptions. He also ran for 161 yards and three scores on 21 carries.
“He only came off the field for about four plays in total,” Sarceda said. “He’s a tough kid and we’re glad he’s with us. We’ll definitely bounce back. He’s good.”
Ostry rushed for 2,284 yards and 28 touchdowns for Rosemead in 2019, and he’s simply elated to have an opportunity to play as a senior.
“It felt good and it’s definitely a blessing,” Ostry said. “I’m glad to be here. We’ve got a lot of work to do. I made too many mental mistakes, too many bad throws, but we’re going to come back and be better next week.”
Delgatty, who led the LCHS receiving corps with four catches for 58 yards and a touchdown, echoed his new teammate and felt that the Spartans could have pulled off the victory.
“I just think we have to put in a little more work, and I think we’re going to get there,” he said.
Despite allowing 36 points, the young defense limited the Tigers to only 76 rushing yards for an average of 2.9 yards per carry. Their biggest play came just before the end of the first half when senior Abraham Jhee intercepted Aragon and returned it 57 yards to the Tigers’ four-yard line. The turnover set up a four-yard keeper from Ostry, who also converted the two-point conversion to give La Cañada a 22-21 lead with 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
“The players coming back were hungry, but some of these guys are young and have never played on varsity,” said Sarceda, who has 14 freshmen, 10 sophomores, nine juniors and seven seniors on the roster. “Our guys are constantly learning. They see those mental mistakes they had, but they were simple things. I think our players got better today.”
One of the underclassmen to get some playing time in was freshman quarterback Macky Plocher, who completed three of four passes for 30 yards.
Senior Brian Staron ran for 33 yards on seven carries and Jhee hauled in two passes for 23 yards. Justin Zoltzman had two receptions for 17 yards and Cole Stratton finished with two catches for 12 yards.
The Spartans will look to bounce back at home against St. Monica of Santa Monica this Friday, March 26, at 7 p.m.
“It was a tough one, but our guys are resilient and will get back out there. We’re ready,” Sarceda said.