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La Cañada High football can't match No. 4 Paraclete

Football: Spartans held in check by Spirits in 54-3 loss in opening round of CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs.

November 15, 2013|By Nathan Cambridge, Special to the Valley Sun

LANCASTER — For the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division football playoffs, La Cañada High was given a road game in faraway Lancaster against host Paraclete.

It would be just another part of the journey for the Spartans, whose season began right after the conclusion of a two-win campaign in 2012. It started with conditioning, weight lifting, summer practices and more on-field conditioning. Then began a schedule that saw the Spartans get blown out several times, but dig their heels in and win the final two games of the regular season to take the No. 3 seed out of the Rio Hondo League, finish .500 and reach the postseason.

So La Cañada made the 70-mile trek to take on host Paraclete, the No. 4 seed, although top competition is nothing new for Spartans. Of the five losses they suffered this season, two came to the division’s top two seeds in Monrovia and Arroyo, another to San Marino and one to City Section foe Eagle Rock, which entered the playoffs undefeated.

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The Spartans did their best to hang with the Alpha League-champion Spirits, but they could not pull the upset. La Cañada fell to Paraclete, 54-3, Friday night in its first postseason appearance since 2010.

An injury-riddled La Cañada (5-6) found itself trailing, 54-0, in the waning moments of the contest, but with 55 seconds remaining, Michael Selsor successfully kicked a 27-yard field goal to deny the Spirits the shutout.

“It still meant a lot to them to score and that’s what I’m trying to build,” La Cañada second-year Coach James Sims said. “They still worked their butts off. Those young [junior varsity] kids that got that ball down there are the same kids who are going to join our 16 returning starters [next year] to build a great football team.”

Key on the Spartans’ scoring drive was a 62-yard run down the left side by junior Donnie Breneman. Breneman finished with 13 carries for a team-high 93 yards.

“We put the JV in and they showed they could do something, so I’m optimistic for next year,” Breneman said.

Yards were as difficult for La Cañada to amass as points. In total, the Spartans had five players line up and take a snap from center, the most successful of whom was starter Robbie Fuelling, who was two of six for 22 yards. The senior’s 12-yard completion in the first quarter to Anthony Connell gained the initial first down for La Cañada.

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