It marked only their third victory of the season, but South Pasadena High’s football team celebrated a long-awaited win Friday night after knocking off host La Canada 27-13 in Rio Hondo League action.
The Tigers hadn’t won since the third week of the season when they handed Eastside a 7-6 loss at home and finished the season with a 3-7 mark, including a 1-3 record in league play. The Spartans dropped to 2-8, 0-3 with one more game on their schedule.
“A lot,” answered SPHS Athletic Greg Luna when asked how many penalties were recorded in the game. Best estimates from some on the Tiger sideline, were 40 between the two clubs. It seemed like every other play was stopped on account of a flag thrown by officials.
The Tigers, enjoying the finish by taking one last picture team together, rejoiced afterwords by slapping high fives and recalling a season that had plenty of good times and bad.
After the third week, South Pas was 2-1, but the Tigers lost six straight, including three lopsided shutouts, before making good in its season finale.
“I’m just proud of the way they came out and competed tonight,” said South Pas Coach Jeff Chi. “The kids really worked hard and it’s a good way to finish up with a win.”
The Spartans took an early 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard run by Cameron Carey at the 10:13 mark. South Pas tied it at seven apiece on a 15-yard run by Ivan Estrada with 6:27 remaining in the first quarter. The Spartans then took a 10-7 lead with 30 seconds to go in the first quarter on a 28-yard field goal.
South Pas took a 14-10 advantage with 8:53 to go in the third period when Estrada bolted around right end for a 45-yard touchdown. Six minutes later South Pasadena was back in the end zone, this time on a 1-yard plunge up the middle by quarterback Jaden Gallego, making it 21-10.
Kozanian brought the Spartans to within eight with 3:43 left in the third period when he hit on a 30-yard field goal. With the Tigers out in front 21-13, Estrada closed out the scoring with a 53-yard TD run down the right side.
Estrada finished with 179 yards on 11 carries to go along with his three touchdowns while teammate Jacob Barnes picked up another 64, packing the ball 13 times on the night.
“I’m glad to see the kids enjoying this one,” Chi said after the win. “For the seniors especially, it’s a nice way to go out.”
Look for an update to this story.