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Continued progress on deck for Spartans, Rebels boys' water polo

Water polo: La Cañada enters 2012 with CIF title hopes, while Prep hopes to keep improving.

August 22, 2012|By Andrew Shortall and Charles Rich
  • Jeff Lee is set to take over as the Spartans new goalkeeper in 2012.
Jeff Lee is set to take over as the Spartans new goalkeeper… (Raul Roa/Staff…)

A big step was taken was by both the La Cañada High and Flintridge Prep boys' water polo teams last season.

While the expectations are different, both squads will look to keep moving forward in 2012. The Rebels are looking to move up the Prep League standings and for more Division V success after they reached the postseason last year. Just across the street, a CIF Southern Section Division III title is the focus for the Spartans, who reached the semifinals for the first time in five years in 2011 and have a new, experienced and decorated coach in Todd Sprague at the helm.

"I have been brought in here to get us to the CIF championship game and to win it," said Sprague, who has three CIF Southern Section titles to his name already — two with the Rosary High girls' program and one with the Whittier High boys.

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Things certainly look promising for the Spartans, who return a number of key players and saw both teams from last year's Division III championship round — Laguna Beach and Damien — move up a division, Sprague said.

Still, Sprague doesn't want his team to get comfortable and think a CIF crown is a forgone conclusion after La Cañada went 22-7, 8-0 in the Rio Hondo League in 2011 under first-year coach Steve Neville.

"I think the reality is we're not in a position where we're just going to stroll this thing and win it," said Sprague, whose team opens the season Wednesday at Ventura High at 3:30 p.m. "We really have some work to do. It's going to depend on how hard the boys want to work."

The original plan was for Sprague to implement his "perimeter-strong system" on offense with a dominating two-meter presence and lethal outside shooters to keep defenses honest, but there was a deviation from that plan once Sprague realized a whole new system could hurt more than it would benefit a La Cañada squad so close to a CIF title.

"They already got the pieces and parts and have everything in place," said Sprague, who will be co-coaching varsity with returning assistant Devon Borisoff this year and has been setting a foundation in the program by teaching his system to the junior varsity and freshman squads. "Instead of coming in and trying to tweak it too much with the short time we have, we're just trying to build upon what they already do. I am working on more fundamentals than Xs and Os and strategy."

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