By Cole Weinstein
After the departure of head coach Ramsey Lambert last year, many believed that the La Cañada football program would struggle without the coach who led them to their first winning record since 2006. While the Spartans seemed doomed to a season of disappointment, the players made sure that this wouldn’t be the case.
“When we lost our coach, we decided that we could either lay down and have a crappy season or turn it around and fight until the very end. And we plan on fighting til’ the very end, I’ll tell you that,” said starting running back Ryan Breneman.
The fight was definitely there in their first game when the Spartans, led by new coach Ryan Zerbel, dominated the Verbum Dei Eagles for a 33-6 week one win. The team wants to send a message that this wasn’t a fluke.
“We prepared like crazy. I mean, we have been out here extra hours, past when we should have been and, you know, it just helps when everyone’s against you because it gives you that little extra drive,” said cornerback Andrew Gunter.
Quarterback Daniel McGowin praised his team’s hard work and effort, “We’ve been working so hard, harder than ever before; we’ve been putting in 100%.”
That work definitely paid off as in his first varsity game; he threw for an impressive 115 yards and 2 touchdowns, including the 72 yard touchdown to Daivon Grayson on the game’s first play.
Daniel's 2nd touchdown came on a 33 yard pass to fullback David Vardanian. When asked about this, he replied, “It was fun. I have to give it to the O-line, they had some good blocking. That’s what set me up for my touchdown.”
David also finished the night with the impressive defensive stats we have come to expect from the 6’ 2”, 250-lb junior. He had 2 sacks, 3 solo tackles, and several key blocks that allowed for Ryan Breneman’s 171 rushing yards.
Despite having one of the best nights of his career, Ryan gave all the glory to his offensive line, “As a running back, you see me get in the end zone, but you don’t see the guys blocking for me. My boys blocked their hearts out and they blocked because they love this game.”
The offensive line played well despite several pre-season concerns that came with the graduation of acclaimed O-line members “Big” Steve Naldzhyan, Eion Mcdonald, Tom Phillips, and Chris Harb. These former stars were key to the team’s offensive capabilities.
But, with the addition of several new and returning varsity members, including this year’s captain, Charlie Weiss, the offensive line is shaping up to be too much for defenses to handle.
On the defensive side, the Spartans played top notch, shutting down the Eagles despite their last minute touchdown. The Spartan defense allowed only 3 yards of total offense in the first half, grabbed two interceptions, and also forced a safety in the third quarter.
When Coach Zerbel was asked if he was impressed with his team’s physical defense, he replied, “Absolutely! Absolutely. We want to be a tough football team. Wins and losses will come and go, but the style and identity of the team will stay forever.”
The big message he wants to send to his new team is that they have heart, which he says is “the biggest part. They work, they believe, and they don’t have any quit in them.”
This team has a long way to go, but Coach Zerbel is extremely proud and believes they are on the right path.
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LA CANADA, PROUD AND GRAND. ALMA MATER SHALL FOREVER STAND.