There were signs of improvement, like an interception and goal line stand stopping scoring threats, and a running game that picked up big chunks of yardage at times, but in the end South Pasadena High was dealt its second straight shutout loss with the question being asked just how bad can it get?
It looks to get worse before it gets better.
Following the Tigers latest dismantling Friday night, a 50-0 loss to rival San Marino –a team targeted to win the Rio Hondo League – South Pasadena’s Athletic Director Greg Luna said the road wasn’t going to get any easier next week.
“We have a tough hurdle against Monrovia,” he said about the Wildcats, who opened league play Friday with a convincing 42-6 win over Temple City and visit South Pasadena Oct. 5 in another difficult league matchup for the Tigers. Despite their 2-4 overall record, Monrovia has been in the mix with powerful teams during the preseason, resulting in all four losses, but appear to be headed for a showdown with San Marino for the league crown.
Not to overlook their next opponent, but it appears the Tigers best hope to salvage the season is to win out down the stretch after Friday’s encounter against the Wildcats and finish 2-2 with league victories over Temple City at home October 12 and at La Cañada October 19.
“It’s been a rough season, but if we manage to pull off two victories at the end we’ll have a better league record than we did last year,” said Luna, putting a positive spin on a season that has turned ugly for the Tigers in recent weeks. South Pas finished 1-3 in league play a year ago. “That’s something to look forward to.”
The Tigers, 2-5 overall this season, have subjected themselves to four devastating losses, dropping contests to El Monte (59-6), Arroyo (52-7), Eagle Rock (68-0) and the 50-point setback to the Titans, but they keep getting back on their feet for the next contest.
“I think we have to commend our kids for continuing to work hard,” said Luna.
South Pas coach Jeff Chi will keep pushing his team over the final three weeks of the season, working to get over the slump and the possibility of a pair, maybe even three, wins to wind it up.
“Our kids are resilient,” said Chi. “I know we’ve had some tough games the past couple of weeks, but they keep coming out working hard. I’m proud of them.”
San Marino coach Mike Hobbie has plenty to be proud of, too, after watching his grandson, Beau, scoot up-and-down the field against the Tigers and score five times on the night from 10, 21, 4, 32 and 3 yards out. He was listed in the game program as 5-10, 165 pounds, but Beau’s grandfather knows the truth.
“I’m stretching it when I say 5-5 and 140 pounds,” said the Titans’ coach, who has his team off to a 5-1-1 start. “He gets everything he’s got out of his body. It’s really a shame he’s so short. It’s hard to get looks at the next level (in college). He’s got a world of talent. He’s quick, can change directions in a heartbeat, accelerate extremely fast and is durable. I can’t say too much because he’s my grandson, but I think he’s pretty special.”
While South Pasadena struggled, not completing a pass all night against the Titans, San Marino quarterback Connor Short showed off his arm strength by finding Jake Leftwich on a perfectly thrown 41-yard pass down the middle for a touchdown and a 3-yard strike to Jackson Wendling to cap the scoring on the final play of the third quarter. The game quickly ended with a CIF-mandated running clock in the fourth period.
On the other side, South Pasadena’s Terrance Sweetman intercepted a pass in the end zone, stopping a Titans’ drive early in the second quarter, and the Tigers’ defense thwarted another attempt, gang tackling Hobbie on fourth down as he tried to squirt up the middle for the final three yards to come up short of the goal line just before halftime.
While Hobbie was running wild on the other side, Ivan Estrada was the workhorse at running back for the Tigers, finding big holes on occasion and churning his way for 128 yards on 18 carries.
“We just need more positive energy and having all our guys working together,” said Estrada, a 5-7, 145 pound junior, looking to turn around the Tigers’ woeful record. “We just have to keep our heads up, even when we make mistakes. We have to pick ourselves up and let it go.”
At stake, like every year, is the Plaque and Crowley Cup, which go to the winning team. South Pas hasn’t seen either one since its last victory over the Titans in 2010. The Crowley Cup is played in memory of Paul Crowley, who had ties to both schools. San Marino leads the series 33-28-3.
A 50-point pummeling is hardly what Chi was looking for against San Marino, but he still has pride in his team’s work ethic. They could have waved a white towel, especially after Eagle Rock rocked their world a week ago racking up 68 points. “This week the guys came out with more energy, hit hard, had a great goal line stand and had the interception,” said the coach. “I was pleased, but we have to do more of it.”
It starts with Monrovia Friday night at home.
“We’ll be ready,” Chi assured. “It’s another big game for us.”