As the regular season winds down with two more games on the schedule, the big question remains if South Pasadena High’s football team will ever find the end zone again.
The Tigers are experiencing a scoring drought they’d like to quickly end after being outscored 159-0 over their last three games and can only hope that better days are ahead in the next couple of weeks.
South Pasadena doesn’t have to be reminded that the season has suddenly gone south after five straight losses, including those three consecutive shutouts to Eagle Rock (68-0), San Marino (41-0) and Monrovia (41-0), the latest coming last Friday. It wasn’t too long ago when the Tigers fortunes looked somewhat bright after a 2-1 start.
Coaches around the Rio Hondo League, like Monrovia’s Chris Williams, can sympathize with what South Pasadena is going through to improve on its 2-6 overall record, including a 0-2 league mark.
Williams is encouraging Tigers’ coach Jeff Chi and South Pasadena players to keep battling to the end. “I tip may hat to the coach,” said Williams. “He’s got his kids coming out and working hard. They gave us a tough game despite the score, especially in the first half. That’s a good sign of a coach who’s trying to change the culture, get the best out of his players and get the team going in the right direction.”
South Pasadena, thinking it was still in the game, trailed 21-0 at intermission against the Wildcats, but fell further behind with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter when Monrovia’s Damien Crisotomo scored on a 21-yard run to put the game out of reach. Monrovia quarterback Nick Hernandez threw a pair of fourth period touchdown passes of 41 and 31 yards to ice it.
That’s when Williams, whose got his team playing at a high caliber in league play with a 2-0 start, 3-4 overall, began crediting Chi for continuing to get his players ready to play despite the difficulties he faces with a banged up roster and little depth when injuries occur.
“I talked to him before the game,” said Williams about his brief meeting at midfied with Chi. “I know it’s not easy on him. It’s difficult to keep your numbers up and the morale going when you’re having a season like that, but those guys never quit.”
South Pasadena even threw in a few new wrinkles into the playbook, which tested the Wildcat defense early in the contest. The Tigers have been changing up their offense in recent weeks depending on the opponent, and caught Monrovia a little off guard before the Wildcats were able to make the necessary changes.
“They came out and ran an offense we didn’t get to prepare for,” said Williams of the Tigers’ double wing, “but it was good work for our boys to make adjustments on the fly. Our team stepped up and played. They listened to what we said and gave us our first shutout of the season. Our defense is getting better every week and it was nice to see them finish a game off like that.”
Now that South Pasadena’s two biggest foes – San Marino and Monrovia, the two teams expected to battle for the league crown – are behind them, the Tigers are now preparing for a much softer part of the schedule as they host Temple City (2-4 overall, 0-1 in league) on homecoming Friday night and La Cañada (1-6, 0-1) on the road October 19.
South Pas has an opportunity, forgetting its 2-6 record which includes all those lopsided defeats, to finish 2-2 against league opponents and call it a successful season.
That’s the goal. “We have a chance, that’s what we’re working on,” said Chi, determine to better last year’s 1-3 Rio Hondo League record. “The kids are going to be working hard to achieve it.”
The Tigers’ coach is looking to running back Logan Svihovec-McCarty, who bulldozed his way for some big gains, and Ivan Estrata, who used his speed, to also impress coaches against Monrovia, to have strong outings against the Rams on Friday. Getting something out a stagnant passing game will also be part of the game plan. Stepping up other phases of the game are also in the works.
“We have to improve our tackling on defense,” said Chi. “It wasn’t spectacular against Monrovia, so we just have to get better. Get some big runs out of our running backs, get the passing game going, make tackles and I think we have a chance against Temple City.”
That “no quit” attitude still persists with the guy guiding the South Pasadena High football program even after another stinging loss.
“We just have to keep our heads up,” said Chi. “If we continue to work hard and go after a better league record than last year, we’ll be fine.”