June isn’t the optimal month for a major coaching change. But that’s exactly what took place earlier this week with the La Canada High School football program.
Ryan Zerbel resigned announced his resignation after two seasons to take a middle school physical education teacher job at Sandburg Middle School in Glendora. Zerbel was almost immediately replaced by Jason Sarceda, who spent the past three seasons as defensive coordinator.
“Timing could have been better, I guess, but when this takes place, you have to get it,” Sarceda said. “You have to make it happen. I’m not going to let these boys down, so I took this opportunity and I’m excited.
“I was able to pull the majority of the existing staff and surround it with some strong alumni, so I feel like the energy’s there. Guys are wanting to come out and be a part of this, so that’s exciting to me.”
Zerbel was 9-10 in his two seasons, but people are still thinking about what might have been last season if La Canada had gotten standout running back Drake Beasley eligible following his transfer from Loyola in the offseason. Instead, CIF declared the transfer was in breach of the prior contact rule and Beasley never played a down for the Spartans.
Before being head coach at La Canada, Zerbel spent three seasons as head coach at Workman. Zerbel said he did not foresee this move coming but couldn’t pass up the new opportunity.
“This job just came open and it’s four miles from my house,” Zerbel said. “It’s just one of those thing, it’s better for my family in the long run. It’s bittersweet, though, because I think we’ve done a lot of good things at La Canada the last couple years.
“I was very vocal about wanting Jason to get the job. He was there with me since Day 1. He’s got great football knowledge and his heart’s in the right place. I think he’s going to do a great job.”
Sarceda’s first big challenge will improving the program’s overall numbers in terms of roster size. Last year’s team graduated over 20 seniors and participation has been a bit of an issue during offseason workouts. La Canada is thriving in other boys sports. The Spartans won Rio Hondo League championships in both basketball and baseball this past school year.
“That’s it, we’ve got to get bodies out,” Sarceda said. “There are a lot of athletes in the community. All our other sports seem to be pretty decent. Football seems to have been struggling and it doesn’t always make sense to me when we have the athletes in the school.”