South Pasadena High will look to avoid what its coach called “a slow start,” as the Tigers prepare to host Marshall in a Thursday night non-league contest at home.
After the Tigers got rolling, however, putting 30 points on the board in the first half, Jeff Chi liked what he saw as his Tigers improved to 2-0 with the 37-6 victory last Friday at Maywood.
“It took a little awhile to get going,” said Chi, who guides the South Pasadena football program. “Once we did, we were fine from there, got on top of them early, and picked up the win.”
South Pasadena held the Wolfpack scoreless until the fourth quarter in the blowout. The Tigers held a 14-0 lead after the first quarter, tacked on another 16 points in the second, and put seven more on the board in the third period to close out its scoring.
“Defensively, we didn’t play as well in the second half,” Chi said. “Sometimes with kids you kind of lose that edge and that’s something we need to work on. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing against, we always have to play our best.”
In Maywood, South Pasadena was going up against a team that suffered its second straight loss of the season, struggling most of the night to move the ball against the Tigers defense, which allowed only a late score in the contest.
“We had a good lead (at the half), but then we didn’t want to pour it on either,” said Chi. “We’ve been on the other end of some of those games and it’s not the greatest feeling. We wanted to keep it respectable. Our kids have been preparing and executing really well on both sides of the ball and played some good football.”
If Chi can get the same scoring production out of his offense, then the Tigers look to be in a good position to come away with their third straight victory this week.
South Pasadena quarterback Jackson Freking hit on 5 of 13 passes against Maywood for 86 yards and threw one touchdown, a 32-yarder to Rich Conti, who hauled in four catches on the night for those 86 yards. Tigers’ running back Jason Hong had a big game, rushing for 101 yards on 11 carries and three scores.
“Hong would have had a lot more yardage but we had a couple of big runs called back (on account of penalties),” explained Chi.
Defensively, Matthew Takayuki and James Dowd recorded 10 tackles each. Dowd also had a fumble recovery for South Pasadena along with Isaiah Cooper, who made six tackles in the game.
As Marshall continues to search for its first win, Chi stressed he’s not taking the Tigers next opponent lightly. “It doesn’t matter who we’re playing,” he said. “We always come in with a game plan to stop their top receivers and running backs, attempt to shut them down and make them do something different than what they are used to. We just have to make sure our guys are focused and ready to execute. It’s going to be a home game so hopefully the energy will be a lot better than last week.”
With the offense moving the ball with some consistency and the defense making key stops up to this point, Chi likes what he sees from his ball club two games into the campaign.
“Looking at the league – Monrovia, San Marino, and La Canada – if we had to play them right now, would we be ready?” he asked. “Those are games down the road, but that’s a question I’ll be asking my team as we prepare for the league season. If the answer is no, then we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The Tigers have a pair of non-league encounters beyond Marshall – Friday, September 9, against Heritage Christian (Northridge) at home and September 16 at Alhambra – to get ready for the league season which features: Monrovia, September 29 on the road; Temple City, October 7 at home; La Canada, October 14, away; Pasadena Poly, October 20, at away, and San Marino, October 28, away.
Off to a fast start, South Pasadena had little trouble in its season opener, easily getting past Lincoln 28-7 in week one before its lopsided victory over Maywood. The Tigers kept the ball on the ground most of the way, and cashed in big with some big plays through the air.
“Our offense line did a great job,” said the coach. “They know they made some mistakes after watching the film, but we’ll work hard at fixing them. Overall, we’re pleased with how they are playing, helping us move the ball.”
In Freking, the Tigers’ QB, Chi is especially proud that he hasn’t thrown an interception. “I’d rather him throw the ball away, other than in a crowd and having a pick,” said the coach. “He’s making some good reads and good throws. So, we’re very pleased with his performance.”
After getting past Maywood, now all eyes are on Marshall a team Chi says has shown improvement over a year ago, and can effectively move the ball. “They are passing the ball quite well to players out of the backfield,” said Chi, “and they have a couple of pretty good receivers, who make short catches and run well after the catch. We’ll have to play tighter coverage and make good tackles to keep up.”