La Canada 27 East L.A. Bobcats 14
(Semi-Final Playoff Game)
On Saturday evening at Bishop Amat High School the La Canada Gladiator Jr. Midget team kept their undefeated record intact with a 27-14 quarter-final playoff win over the East L.A. Bobcats who came into the game with a record of 8-1. The Gladiators will now travel to West Covina next Sunday for the Conference Championship.
This season through their first nine games the Gladiator offense has averaged an astonishing 41 points per game, primarily behind its highly potent running attack led by Drake Beasley, Mario Martinez, Brett Gangi, Davon Grayson, Alexander Guiragossian, Antoine Wright, Will Rees, Angel Salazar, and Drew Sarceda. This was made possible by the great line blocking of Jackson Diaz, Jason Reyes, Robert Adame, Josh Mullin, and Augie Saucedo. The Gladiator running attack was in high gear against the Bobcats, with Drake Beasley and Mario Martinez combining for 251 yards on 33 carries. They scored all four of the Gladiator touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball the Gladiator defense has allowed opponents an average of only six points per game. Led by standout linebacker Ty Hill, other defensive standouts include Martinez, Beasley, A.J. Ramirez, Jack Webster and Jacob de la Hoya.
In the first quarter, the Gladiators wasted little time scoring on their third play from scrimmage on a 21 yard touchdown run by Drake Beasley. The touchdown run was set up by a Martinez 26 yard scamper on the previous play. As the Gladiators have done all season long, they put tremendous pressure on their opponents as they have scored touchdowns on 8 of 9 of their opening drives. East Los Angeles answered with an eight play drive of its own down to the Gladiator 6 yard line. The Gladiator defense stiffened at that point and on third down Gladiator nose guard Alexander Guiragossian sacked the Bobcat quarterback for an 8 yard loss. The Bobcats turned the ball over on downs and the Gladiator offense took control again.
Nine plays and 86 yards later, the Gladiators extended their lead to 12-0 on a 44 yard touchdown run by Martinez. The Bobcats would not go quietly as they answered very quickly with a three play scoring drive which closed the gap at 12-8. Beasley and the Gladiator offense extended the halftime lead to 12 points again with a 14 yard touchdown run bringing the score to 20-8 with very little time remaining in the first half.
The Gladiators started the second half on defense, but wasted little time in getting off the field and getting the ball back to the high scoring Gladiator offense. On the third play of the second half, Johnnie Padilla forced a fumble and inside backer Tyler Hill recovered the ball inside Bobcat territory. Beasley scored his third and final touchdown of the evening making the score 27-8 early in the second half. Both teams traded punts as the game moved into the fourth quarter.
The Bobcats were able to put a drive together that resulted in a 19 yard touchdown with 2:43 left in the contest that cut the lead to 13, but the Gladiators were able to recover the onside kick and run out the clock.
Head Coach Jason Sarceda was proud of his “entire team,” but praised the efforts of Thomas Riley on the defensive side stating, “He was constantly pressuring the other team up front.” “Offensively, we attacked them with Beasley and Martinez who ran well today,” added Sarceda. “We are extremely proud of where we are because we set our goal to win a championship this year and now we have a chance to finish it right!”
The Gladiators will play in the Championship Final at West Covina High School this Sunday evening at 2:00 p.m. against a very solid Alhambra Thunderbird team. Both teams enter the championship game with undefeated records of 9-0.
Over the past decade, Gladiator teams have won 15 Arroyo League Championships and five Conference Championships. This is quite an achievement for an organization dwarfed by its larger competitors.
“We compete against about 28 other cities in the greater San Gabriel Valley, and we are by far the smallest franchise in the Conference”, says Gladiator President Kevin Lacey. “We are limited to enrolling players in and around La Canada, La Crescenta, and Montrose,” continues Lacey, “and our recruiting area is about the size of a postage stamp when compared to the likes of Pasadena, Glendale, Duarte, El Monte, and the other cities in our Conference.”
The Gladiators attribute their success on the field to a number of factors. “It all starts with good coaching, and we have been blessed over the past several seasons with several very good and devoted coaches, like Coach Jason Sarceda who has been with us for several years and whose devotion to his team is quite remarkable” says Lacey.
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