Jeff Chi isn’t one to make excuses, but he knew going in it would be difficult to matchup against his rival with a team banged up with injuries, especially on the offensive line.
In the end, it was another a long night for South Pasadena High against their rivals three miles to the east as they fell 55-14 to the Titans. San Marino finished the Rio Hondo League season with a 3-1 mark, 7-2 overall and is now headed to the CIF playoffs while the Tigers ended any hopes of postseason play with the loss. They finished the 2017 campaign with a 5-5 record, 1-3 in league.
South Pas was no match against San Marino as the Titans had their way from the start on Homecoming night. It didn’t help matters that the Tigers were without four starting offensive lineman that had blasted holes open for South Pasadena running backs and given their quarterback plenty of time to throw when it was winning with regularity early in the season.
“We played against a pretty tough team,” admitted Chi after it was over. “Playing a pretty tough team with our depleted line, we knew it was going to be a tough night for us.”
Before the game, Chi, knowing his team was the clear underdog, emphasized to his players to “just compete. Knowing that we were shorthanded, they initially didn’t have the fire in them, and it kind of showed on the scoreboard,” he said.
While San Marino hoisted the Crowley Cup, the prize at stake going to the winners, after the game, South Pasadena players pondered yet another loss, wondering what it’s going to take to beat the team on the other side.
It marked the seventh straight victory by San Marino over South Pasadena in a series San Marino leads 32-28-3. While it may appear to be somewhat close, the Titans have dominated since 1984 with a 24-9-1 mark.
Titan’s coach Mike Hobbie, who came on the scene at the start of the 2011 season, is making it look easy. San Marino has recorded 28-7, 43-8, 21-6, 57-14, 35-0, 41-20 and now 55-14 triumphs to this point.
Yet Hobbie will tell you it’s not easy to hand the Tigers a loss. “It may look easy, but it’s not easy,” he said following the latest dismantling of his rival. “We believe in what we do. Don’t change it much and practice the heck out of our guys in what we do well. And I tell them, it’s not a matter of the talent on the other side of the ball, or the size, it you do what you do well, good things will happen. I have a great group of kids who enjoy playing, and it makes it fun to coach.”
Undoubtedly, one of his favorites players has the same last name. His grandson, Beau Hobbie, a 5-6, 160-pound junior running back, was a menace on the field for the Tigers Friday night as he rushed for 159 yards on 19 carries and five touchdowns, going 7, 1, 5, 28 and 7 yards in the one-sided battle.
San Marino senior quarterback Blake Cabot also found gapping holes on the ground, picking 155 yards on 16 carries, and was efficient throwing, hitting 13 of his 20 passes for 120 yards. The Titans racked up 471 total yards on the night.
After a sluggish first half offensively, South Pas found some openings in the Titans’ defense in the final two quarters and overall gained 246 yards, 198 yards through the air and 48 on the ground. Much of the passing heroics came late in the game when Sidney Luna-Long, in for injured quarterback Justin Huff, threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Dorian Torres down the left side. The big play in the drive came on a 51-yard pass from Luna-Long to Danny Rios, who hauled in two passes on the night for 92 yards.
Luna was in on the Tigers’ only other score as he directed a 9-play, 79-yard drive, running the ball in around the left side with 2:25 to go in the third quarter.
During the half while Homecoming festivities were taking place, which featured the crowning of Riley Segal as the royal winner, Chi was in the locker room reminding his players to not stop competing. “There was no point in being discouraged and giving up,” he said. “I told them ‘to go out and find a way to have fun, make plays, make hits, make tackles, whatever you need to do that makes you happy.’ I think the guys came through with that.”
Chi expressed mixed emotions as the season came to a close, saying: “I wish the best for these guys. They worked hard, and I wish we could have had a better season. It’s not what I expected. It’s not what the players expected.”
Hobbie credited his team for playing “mistake free football,” living up to its motto of “play hard, play smart.”
The Titans played very hard and very smart in all phases of the game Friday night, jumping out to a 41-0 halftime lead while limiting the Tigers to only one first down and mere 11 yards, – yes, 11 yards – on offense in the first two quarters.
“When they play very smart and very hard they can do that, we’re a very competitive football team,” said the Titans’ coach, who has guided his team to the CIF postseason play since he started coaching at San Marino High.
“I wouldn’t know what to do it we weren’t going to the playoffs,” said Hobbie. “Now it’s kind of expected instead of rewarded. I’m excited we’re there.”
Admittedly, Hobbie says it feels good to coach his team to seven straight victories over South Pasadena. “When I got here all I heard was South Pas, South Pas, South Pas. So, I figured that should be an important game for San Marino,” he said with a laugh. “So, I better make sure I don’t lose that one.”
And, true to his word, he hasn’t.