Calling it a “classy program,” South Pasadena High Athletic Director Anthony Chan likes the idea that Pasadena Poly becomes the newest member of the Rio Hondo League in football.
Pasadena Poly moves out of the Prep League, which has struggled to keep teams in recent years and will put the Tigers on their schedule for the 2020 season. Claremont Webb departed the Prep League and Palos Verdes Prep and Flintridge Prep now play eight-man football, opening the door for the Panthers to make an exit.
No stranger to the league play, the Panthers played the Tigers last October and both La Canada and Temple City in 2018.
“Pasadena Poly has been a good neighbor of ours for many years,” explained Chan, South Pasadena High’s first year AD. “We have great competitive matches scheduled together in many sports. Once Pasadena Poly knew that the Prep League would not be continuing with football, Pasadena Poly gave us a call. We discussed it among the league and agreed to have them join the Rio Hondo League for varsity football for the 2020 season.”
Tigers coach Jeff Chi said having Pasadena Poly in the Rio Hondo League “is a great deal,” adding, “ We had a five team league for few years and it hurt some of our league teams from qualifying for the playoffs. Only the top two teams were guaranteed for a spot. Now that we have a six team league, we are guaranteed top 3 for playoff spots.”
South Pasadena upended the Panthers last season 34-20 on its way to a 7-4 season that ended with a 47-27 loss to Fillmore on the road in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
“I thought that they were very competitive,” said Chi of Pasadena Poly. “I think that they will be a good addition to our league and we are excited about them joining our league, and playing against them.”
Chan agrees, saying the Panthers are a good fit for the Rio Hondo League.
“They bring a team that compares well with the league,” he said. “Geographically, they make a lot of sense. In terms of team size, they have similar numbers. I think they bring a good competitive team to the league and it benefits all of us to have games that have competitive equity. Pasadena Poly runs a classy football program.”
Chan says the latter comes as a result of the Panthers’ coaches, players, and fans who “were great guests” when the two teams faced off in South Pasadena in the first week of October. “Their program is well coached and the athletes demonstrate great sportsmanship as well as competitive spirit,” he said.
The Tigers athletic director said Pasadena Poly will be members of the Rio Hondo League for at least the 2020 football season. The Panthers will not compete in any other sport at the league level at this time. “We do schedule many competitive non-league matches with them for a variety of sports,” said Chan.
Pasadena Poly “will be unpredictable, being a private school, they could potentially have players transferring in and out, which will create an interesting situation,” added Chi.