In a thrilling opening game, senior runningback Jackson Totleben was our #MVP with three spectacular touchdowns, handing the Tigers a 20-7 win over Rosemead in the team’s season opener. There was excitement in the stands as Tiger fans were welcomed by the pep squad, Tiger mascots and the always dynamic Tiger Marching Band. As per usual, the dedicated parent volunteers were hard at work at concessions doling out their now famous teriyaki chicken bowls.
The crowd was a bit restless after a scoreless first quarter when suddenly Totleben scored a 17 yard touchdown that woke up the crowd considerably! Things got interesting when Rosemead scored on a 5-yard run just before halftime. The band didn’t march for this first game but gave some lively performances during halftime with Tiger Pep keeping team spirit high with their cheers, pyramids and dance routines.
It was Totleben again in the third quarter by running in a 5-yard touchdown after a 22 yard drive. Early in the fourth quarter, Glen Levstik made an electrifying 54-yard run that had everyone breathless as it looked like he’d take it straight to the endzone! Totleben finished the job with a 3-yard touchdown bringing the game to 20-7 after a missed extra point. The game was stopped for a sobering 20 minutes as paramedics were called in to give aid to a Rosemead player who was injured. South Pasadena trauma was called for assessment of possible head/neck injury and it was determined that he be taken to Huntington Hospital as a precautionary measure.
Totleben says he knew he would have a heavy workload and has been preparing for it all summer however he did get a little overwhelmed, getting cramped up early in the 4th. He says it did pass though and he was able to get back at it and feels that he can develop his stamina as the season progresses. “It was a definite confidence booster to get that first win. I think it will help fan turnout because I could feel the crowd getting excited,” said Totleben, “for our younger guys, it showed them we can win and if we stick to it, we’ll be in every game.”
Echoing that sentiment was Coach Chi, “I was very pleased and proud of the kids. There were a lot of opportunities for them to come in and shine; Glen Levstik’s huge run was a huge turning point, Dorian Torres with the interception at the end of the game…that was a huge sealing of the game. A lot of people didn’t see Jacob Barnes on the D-line, probably one of the smallest tackles in CIF, causing a havoc and causing fumbles. Those are things that not everyone sees but we see them on the sidelines.” He continues, “Sidney Luna, on the punt, our snap wasn’t the greatest, but he saved a couple of bad snaps over his head and made a great play. We had a lot of new, fresh blood in there and they just came in and gave all the effort that they could give so we can’t complain about that.”
Of Totleben Chi says, “one of the on-going jokes between Jackson and I is he says, “coach, never run me more than five times in a row ‘cause I get a little tired’, and I tell him I’ll just run him four times and give the ball to somebody else on the fifth, but I think I broke that promise. I think he carried the ball five or six times at one point because we had to. He’s given a little spark to our team, he showed a glimpse of how good he could be as a runningback and I hope he can continue to run well and make a name for himself in the league.”
Chi also says that he made a call to Rosemead’s coach this morning and is pleased to report that their injured player, Campbell, is okay and will be ready to go next week. “If that was my kid I would be devastated, I would be anxious, you just hope that nothing bad happens,” says Chi, “he was in discomfort but was able to move his hands and legs. The trainer wanted to be extra careful, not take any chances so that’s why the paramedics were called.” Chi mentions that he told Janet Anderson, “one thing I was really proud of is something that I didn’t prompt the kids to do; when the injury happened and we were all sitting in the end zone, one of the kids said, “hey let’s pray for this kid”; it’s a football game. It’s not about winning at all costs, it’s about winning fairly, you lose gracefully but at the same time, it is just a game and you want to make sure that no one gets hurt. It was good to see the decency of our kids.”
The Tigers will face off against Santa Clarita Christian next Friday Sept. 1 at South Pasadena High School. 7pm – Be there for all the action!