An offensive lineman isn’t supposed to beat wide receivers in running drills, but that’s what happened at La Caada High School when Marty Vardanian showed up last week for the Spartans’ first official day of practice dubbed “Midnight Madness.”
“It’s a tradition we do,” La Caada coach Dan Yoder said. “We can’t run them for three weeks on dead period because of CIF rules. They show up and when it turns 12:01 on Monday morning we open the gates, turn on the lights and run them.”
La Caada, which tied for second place last year in the Rio Hondo League and lost to Covina in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Mid-Valley Division playoffs, spent an hour running 10 240-yard sprints from one goal post to the other and back, counting as one rep.
“We time them,” Yoder said, “and it’s a chance to prove they did their homework in those three weeks. Usually we get two thirds of the team who get it in the time allotted.”
Vardanian, a senior offensive lineman and middle linebacker, was impressive.
“He showed up to camp just a physical specimen,” Yoder said. “We ran his conditioning test and was beating receivers. He just really stepped up as a leader and with his physical performance. He was ready and it was really impressive.”
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder will be a left guard and move from the defensive line to middle linebacker, and the reason is simple.
“He’s mobile,” Yoder said. “That he can move is something he’s been working on. We repped him a little bit at middle linebacker but there were other guys who were better suited there. But at the same time we didn’t want to take him off the field so we put him on the defensive line.”
Vardanian is a third-year letterman who started a few games on varsity as a sophomore. The Spartans will need more players to go both ways with a lower than expected turnout for football this season, but Yoder is not overly concerned.
“They’re working really hard and picking up a lot of good reps,” he said. “The guys that have to slip into those open spots have done a really good job so far.”
La Caada, which practices the rest of this week from 6p.m.-9 p.m., has an intersquad scrimmage Saturday followed by a scrimmage against Schurr next week.