Daniel McGowin carries the ball past Bryan Soto's block during a La Cañada High School football team spring practice on Tuesday, May 27, 2014. This is head coach Ramsey Lambert's first season. (Tim Berger / Staff Photographer / May 27, 2014)

A final Friday in August will represent the beginning of the Ramsey Lambert football era at La Cañada High according to the recently released 2014 season schedule.

The Spartans will commence the new campaign at Los Angeles Southwest College versus parochial school host Verbum Dei on Aug. 29 at 7 p.m.

"I'm aware of the history of Verbum Dei and they're going to be one of the tougher teams we're going to see this season," Lambert said. "We're definitely looking forward to the challenge."

Verbum Dei (7-4) is the first private school on the Spartans' schedule since 2011 and represents the longest road trip of the season as the team travels 53 miles round trip to south Los Angeles.

Verbum Dei is also one of two new teams the Spartans face along with small-school power Rio Hondo Prep of Arcadia. Dropped off the schedule from 2013 are playoff squads Eagle Rock and Arroyo.

From a strictly records standpoint, the 2014 nonleague schedule is marginally easier than that of 2013, as the record of opponents were 36-19 in 2013 and 32-22 in 2014, while the schedule for both years included two postseason squads.

La Cañada is hoping to build upon a 5-6 season under former coach James Sims that included a third-place finish in the Rio Hondo League and advancement to the postseason for the first time since 2010.

Ramsey, who did not have a hand in this year's schedule, hasn't spent too much time dissecting upcoming opponents.

"Honestly, beyond Verbum Dei, I don't know that much about the other opponents," Lambert said. "I know some of the local squads and I look forward to those games."

After Verbum Dei, the Spartans open the home schedule with a game against Alhambra (2-8) on Sept. 5 before a pair of local showdowns.

The Spartans host Glendale (4-6) on Sept. 12 in the rematch of a thrilling 27-20 victory at Moyse Field last year.

After Glendale, the Spartans will hope that a renewal of their rivalry with Foothill Freeway foe Crescenta Valley (8-2) at Moyse on Sept. 19 will bring about a change in momentum.

The Falcons whipped La Cañada, 42-14, last season and have won seven straight contests dating back to 2006.

After Crescenta Valley and before the start of league play, the Spartans have an intriguing game Sept. 25 with arguably the San Gabriel Valley's most productive football program in Rio Hondo Prep (11-2).

The contest marks the only Thursday game of the season for La Cañada, which faces a program that has won 11 CIF Southern Section football championships.

A close to the nonleague season precedes a bye during the fifth week and the start of the Rio Hondo League season.

As for the kickoff of league action, the Spartans are at Temple City (3-7) on Oct. 10 in what could be a foreshadowing for the postseason.

The winner of this contest the last two seasons has finished third in the Rio Hondo League and has advanced to the playoffs.

Temple City won, 44-26, in 2012 and the Spartans returned the favor, 31-7, last year.

Following Temple City, La Cañada travels to Muir High to face Blair (0-10) on Oct. 17 before squaring off with visiting San Marino (9-3) on Oct. 24.

Then the Spartans face arguably their biggest challenge of the season in venturing to seven-time reigning league champion Monrovia (11-2) at Oct. 31.

Finally, the Spartans conclude the regular season Nov. 7 versus South Pasadena (4-6).

"We're hoping and preparing so that won't be our last game of the season," Lambert said. "Hopefully, we'll be talking about the playoffs, but that's still a long time away."

--

Follow Andrew J. Campa on Twitter: @campadresports.