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Newer-look La Cañada High boys' water polo still has lofty expectations

Water polo: La Cañada High, Flintridge Prep boys find themselves in different situations, but with same mission.

August 29, 2013|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com
  • La Cañada's Peter Loakes throws the ball during a La Canada High boys water polo team practice Thursday, August 22, 2013.
La Cañada's Peter Loakes throws the ball… (Photo by Mike Mullen )

Fresh off their finest seasons in recent memory, both the La Cañada High and Flintridge Prep boys’ water polo teams are intent on matching that success.

The Spartans and Rebels find themselves in very different positions to do so, however. La Cañada graduated five All-Rio Hondo League players and essentially its entire offense from a year ago, while Prep returns everyone except its two goalkeepers.

There’s plenty of new for the Spartans this year, including new coach Christian Flores, who is La Cañada’s fourth coach in three years.

“I plan on sticking around with the high school, hopefully getting up to the championship, I love winning,” said Flores, who previously played against La Cañada at Montebello, where he won CIF championships in 2003 and 2004 and served as an assistant coach.

Despite graduating co-league most valuable players Chase Borisoff and Symeon Stefan, first-teamers Bryce Hopkins and Alden Geller and second-teamer Johnny Louk, the Spartans do return three outstanding defensive players in senior two-meter defenders Justin Moh and Peter Loakes and senior goalie Jeff Lee.

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Moh and Loakes will likely step into bigger offensive roles, while juniors Reed Buck (center), Connor Shankwiler (driver) and Ben Whitefield (center defender) look to make an impact at the varsity level.

A challenge for Flores is preparing his players for new roles or developing his junior varsity call-ups for the next level. So far, they seem to be doing well with the La Cañada Water Polo Club, which includes most of the high school team, winning a championship in the 18-and-under California State Games in July.

On offense and defense, Flores will look to exploit one-on-one matchups. Defensively, the Spartans will man up and press like they have for years. Offensively, they will drive each time it sets up to create space and scoring opportunities.

Expectations are as high as ever for the high school campaign, as Flores plans on a return to the CIF Southern Section Division III championship game after last season’s 14-9 loss to M.L. King in the title bout.

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