Jr. Pee Wee – Conference Championship
La Cañada Gladiators v. Pasadena Panther
Final Score: La Cañada 20, Pasadena 7
On Sunday morning, Nov. 23, at Duarte High School the La Canada Gladiators defeated the previously undefeated Pasadena Panthers 20-7 and were crowned Champions of the San Gabriel Valley Jr. All American Football Conference. The Gladiators finished the season with a record of 9-1, their only defeat coming earlier this season to the same Pasadena Panther team. This is the second consecutive Conference Championship for this Gladiator team. Last year, the squad went undefeated and was the Gremlin Conference Champions. Over the last two years they have a record of 19-1.
On offense, the Gladiators dominated the line of scrimmage for the entire game. Center C.J. Corlett, Brandon Shepherd, DaMarcus Caruana, Jake Okland, Charlie Stewart, Noah Maddox, and Jack Wszelaki, along with tight end Patrick Weinmann manhandled their Panther opponents allowing running backs Daylon Beasley, Chris Marfisi, Luca Cuneo, Pierce Clarkson, Matthew Watson, and Andrew Sharman ample room to run. Beasley led the Gladiators in rushing with over 100 yards on the day. The running game was so efficient that the Gladiators did not even attempt a pass the entire game.
On defense, the powerful Panther attack was held in check most of the day. In the first half Pasadena only managed a single first down. Led by nose-guard Jonah Cisneros and tackle Jake Fitzgerald, along with linebackers Watson and Marfisi, the Gladiators closed the interior running game while Dexter Matthews, Caden Smith, Aiden Garcia, Miguel Sanchez, Max Saucedo, and Daniel De La Cruz, Sam Faulkner, Laelan Wright, and Mycah Pasten pressured the Panther quarterback and blanketed their receivers. Pasadena’s only score came late in the final period on a broken play.
The Gladiators scored on their first possession after a long time consuming drive. Beasley ran behind a key block by Corlett for the first score of the game. Beasley also added the conversion to put the Gladiators up 7-0. For the rest of the first half, both defenses controlled the game, and although the Gladiators managed one more long drive, they did not manage to score. In the second half, the Gladiators kicked off and Pasadena’s 4th down attempt was stifled by Fitzgerald’s quarterback sack providing the Gladiators great field position. Two inside runs by Marfisi moved the Gladiators inside the Panther twenty yard line. Later in the drive, Beasley pounded it from a yard out and he also added the conversion to increase the Gladiator lead to 14-0 at the end of the third quarter. With about five minutes left in the game, a great personal effort by the Pasadena wide receiver, who broke several tackles, cut the lead to 14-7, but on the ensuing kickoff, Beasley ran is back to the Panther 21 yard line. Several plays later, Beasley added his third score of the day and the clock ran out with the Gladiators up 20-7.
Head Coach Jeremey Cisneros was very proud of his team. “It was a great win, considering we lost to them earlier in the season. We played with our hearts and as a team today.”
La Cañada Gladiators vs. West Covina Bruins – Conference Championship
Final Score: La Cañada 28, West Covina 26
On Saturday afternoon at West Covina High School, the La Canada Gladiator Midget team won a close victory over the previously undefeated West Covina Bruins 28-26 to capture the San Gabriel Valley Conference Championship. The Gladiators finished the season with a record of 9-1.
In the first quarter, things started badly for the Gladiators as the Bruins managed two quick scores and were up 14-0. Mid-way through the quarter, however, quarterback Tyron Clark hit wide receiver Carson Okland for a 40 yard score. The conversion was unsuccessful but the Gladiators cut the lead to 14-6. On the Bruins next possession, the quarterback scrambled left but was unable to outrun defensive linemen Lawrence Palmer and Daniel Cho and was sacked in the end zone for a safety, and the Bruin lead had been shaved to 14-8. On the Gladiators next possession, Jahlique Stephens scored on a dazzling run around the right side. Stephens also carried the ball into the end zone for the conversion and the first quarter ended with the Gladiators up 16-14.
In the second quarter, the Bruins drove in for a score to regain the lead, but their conversion attempted was foiled by a great interception by Artis Candler. Da’Vion Rutherford then took the ensuing kickoff back to the West Covina 35 yard line on a great run and only a shoe-string tackle prevented him from scoring. The offensive line led by Cho, Palmer, William Stewart, Carson Giles, Issac Faulkner, Jack Stellwagen, Jason Watson, and Louis Menacho worked hard in the trenches to push back the tough West Covina defense. Clark took the ball on an option and ran behind the blocking of his offensive line and wide out Michael Leyva for another Gladiator score. The conversion was unsuccessful, but the Gladiators had regained the lead 22-20. On the Bruins’ ensuing possession as they drove downfield, an errant pass was picked off by Beau Hobbie who raced down the far sidelines 65 yards for another Gladiator score. Although the conversion was no good, the Gladiators had increased their lead to 28-20 with only a few minutes left in the half. With little time remaining, the Bruins managed another scoring drive shortly before the half ended, but missed the all-important conversion and the half ended with the Gladiators up 28-26.
While the first half witnessed a flurry of offense, halftime adjustments by both staffs resulted in a tight second half with no scoring by either team. West Covina started the second half with an onside kick that was recovered by an alert William Stewart. A long run by Stephens and a screen pass to Hobbie kept the Gladiators from being pinned in their own end of the field. Although they failed to score, the Gladiator offense managed to grind out most of the third quarter on the ground, giving the potent Bruin offense little time on the field. A key play occurred late in the third quarter when a Clark pass was intercepted by the Bruins, but Stephens managed to strip the ball back and give the Gladiators a fresh set of downs. Great open field tackles by Okland, Dyllan Wright, Rubin Munoz , Charles Daves, and another sack Pena kept the Bruins form scoring in the third quarter. James Smith and Jacob Erdmier also played extremely tough defense to help stop the Bruins.
The 4th Quarter was also scoreless as the Gladiator defense did bend, but did not break. On their final possession with less than four minutes left in the game the Bruins managed to put together an impressive drive and moved the ball to the Gladiator 15 yard line. But they could move no further and a fourth down pass was incomplete giving the Gladiators the ball with less than two minutes in the game and they ran out the clock.
Coach Okland remarked after the game that, “It was a long season, but we came together and played better each week. I’d like to thank the players, coaches, and ADs for our successful season, everyone worked hard and it paid off. It was a true team win.”