On a mission, South Pasadena High took another giant step Friday night in its quest to win a long-awaited CIF title in football.
It wasn’t easy as the Tigers took to the road, boarding a bus for a nearly 60-mile one-way bus ride to San Juan Capistrano deep into Orange County to come away with a 35-21 win over St. Margaret’s in the CIF Division quarterfinals.
“We knew coming in it was going to be a pretty close game,” said South Pasadena coach Jeff Chi. “We were going up against a really good team.”
The Tigers had a chance to take a seven point lead just before the half but fumbled at the Tartans’ one yard line and went into the locker room tied 14-14.
“It didn’t slow us down,” said Chi about the late second quarter miscue. “We talked to the kids and got our game going, scored 21 points in the second half and put them away. Our kids really stepped up and really played good defense. It was really a great team effort.”
With the victory, South Pasadena improved to 10-2 overall on the season, including a 3-2 third place Rio Hondo League finish. San Margaret’s concluded a 5-7 campaign, 4-2 in the Orange Coast League, good for third. It marked the Tartans’ first loss since a 66-21 setback to Orange back on September 23. The Tigers ended a St. Margaret’s five game winning streak.
Reaching the CIF semis is familiar territory for the Tigers. It’s where their season ended a year ago when South Pasadena fell to Montclair in Division 13 action, losing in the final seconds, 28-21.
Next up for South Pasadena is Bellflower, a 35-21 over Chino in its quarterfinal triumph Friday night. The semifinal matchup will be a Tigers’ home game.
Tigers’ coach Jeff Chi likes the idea his team is only two wins away from claiming their first CIF championship since 1975.
“We’re very excited about going back to the semis and hopefully we’ll have a different outcome this year,” said Chi.
South Pasadena opened the playoffs with a 43-35 first round win over Yucca Valley.
Jason Hong scored three times on the ground in the Tigers win, Jackson Freking once while Quinn Stirling hauled in a scoring pass.
“Very proud,” said Chi. “This was a really big win for us.”