Spartans are still the team to beat in Division III, even if they lost
eight seniors who contributed heavily to last season's 26-3 campaign.
The program at La Canada is not like the others. The eight seniors
from last year -- Bryan Hiscox, Ed Patterson, Sandy Ryan, Ben Jorgensen,
Cyrus Jamnejad, Devin McIntire, Lloyd Masson and Andy Haynes -- had been
playing together since eighth grade, and the 1999 campaign was really
their first year when they got playing time at the varsity level.
The same can be said about this year's Spartan group. Some of the
names might not sound familiar yet, but these guys have been waiting
their entire high school careers for this moment: the chance to showcase
their talent and help La Canada to its fourth CIF title and the third in
the past four years.
"We had to replace basically the full team from last year, but these
guys have been playing with each other for a long time and they played
over a 100 games during the summer, and they're ready," said Naeve, who
is in his 13th year coaching the Spartans, but the fifth in the current
This year's group of Spartans are a bit younger than usual, with just
four seniors on the squad. But all that means is that La Canada will
really be dominant next year, added on to the headaches it will give its
opponents this year.
The top player to watch is junior driver Matt Yang. Yang was on the
varsity team last year, and according to Naeve, he would have started had
he not broken his right wrist.
A prolific sprinter during the swimming season, Yang has all the
potential in the world, says Naeve.
Right there with Yang among the Spartan elite will be senior 2-meter
Phil Webster. He missed much of the summer with a broken rib, but Naeve
says he will be ready in time for the start of the season.
The other senior who will carry a heavy load for La Canada is 2-meter
Jeff Linden. He'll be joined by two juniors in the starting rotation in
Joe Ondrejcka and Ryan McCune. Another junior, Kurt Kiefer, will be right
there to share the spotlight.
The one question mark -- if you could really call it that -- will be