Jesse Hirdler asked Coach Rich Wheeler if they could be issued uniform
numbers with consecutive numbers.
Wheeler granted their request and the linebacking core have galvanized
the Spartans, who will meet Santa Monica at 7 p.m. Friday in a CIF
Southern Section Division X quarterfinal-round game at Santa Monica City
A Numbers Row featuring McGuinness (No. 7), Naples (No. 8) and Hirdler
(No. 9) have served as the backbone to La Canada's potent defense. Their
silky Cardinal red and gold uniforms are covered weekly with mud and
grass stains, remnants from the tireless task of shutting down opposing
"We knew it would be cool to have consecutive numbers," said Hirdler,
who finished with 34 solo tackles in the regular season. "Coach said it
might be a little tricky. We like to play defense because we like to hit
They haven't missed many assignments after helping La Canada (8-3)
finish second in the Rio Hondo League behind top-seeded Temple City. They
combined for 80 solo tackles in 10 regular-seasons games. McGuinness,
Naples and Hirdler, each a third-year varsity athlete, began their
high-school careers on a stable note. They made some history in 1998,
leading La Canada's freshman team to a league title for the first time in
more than 20 years.
Hardly a token memory.
The trio, under the tutelage of third-year Defensive Coordinator Sean
Pollard, came full circle Friday in a 31-21 first-round playoff win
against visiting Santa Maria St. Joseph. La Canada, competing in its
sixth consecutive postseason and 13th overall since the school opened in
1963, blanked the Knights for three quarters and made the proper
defensive adjustments to earn a last-minute victory.
They've gradually produced without rarely leaving the field between
offensive and defensive possessions. Hirdler caught a touchdown pass, and
McGuinness scored the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds left.
"That was an emotional game," said McGuinness, who registered a
team-record eight sacks in a nonleague game against Crescenta Valley on
Sept. 28. "We needed a big catch and defensive play to have a glimmer of