Looking to end it on a positive note, South Pasadena High’s football team, deciding not to play its scheduled game against Monrovia last week, hosts Temple City Friday, concluding a brief, 3-game, COVID-19 influenced season.
With this week’s game in question following the team’s decision not to face the Wildcats, Tigers’ coach Jeff Chi said on Wednesday, Temple City was prepared to come to South Pasadena to play its only contest of the season.
Earlier this week, a conversation took place between Chi and Rams’ coach Riley Saxton, who said his club was “was a little bit inexperienced, but then again so is our team,” noted the South Pasadena coach. “We’re going to create a competitive game atmosphere as much as possible with the understanding that if something gets out of hand we’ll have a conversation during the game and make accommodations so that if there is a dangerous situation for either one of our teams, we’ll adjust. We’re just looking forward to the both of us having an opportunity to play some good solid football.”
South Pasadena opened the most unusual of seasons with a 36-30 victory over La Cañada before a narrow 22-20 setback to San Marino in its second encounter. The Tigers will be taking their 1-1 mark up against an opponent that will be playing its first and only game of the spring campaign. It will also mark South Pasadena’s homecoming when the two teams square off at 7:00 p.m.
“He’s a really good guy,” said Chi of Saxton. “I think it’s really good when you have coaches like him that understand one another. We’re just trying to make it a positive experience for the kids, making sure it’s safe. We especially want to make it a good thing for our seniors. At the end of the day, it’s just a game. Hopefully you learn some lessons from it and hold some memories to talk about in the future.”
The Monrovia versus South Pasadena game was cancelled after Chi learned that two of his key players – one playing both offense and defense – would not be available. “We had a conversation with our athletic director [Anthony Chan] and felt this wasn’t a safe environment for anybody,” Chi said. “Our athletic director said we’re going to have to cancel it, something we have to live with.”
Not dwelling on the Monrovia situation, Chi and his coaching staff are now looking ahead instead of behind, concentrating on what it can control by focusing on Temple City.
“We didn’t take much time on not playing last week,” he explained. “We can’t control that, so we’re trying to be collective and cohesive, look ahead to playing the Rams and try to rally around our senior class with the idea of making it positive.”
One of those senior players will be Tino Nguyen, who has played nearly every position over the past four years – running back, receiver, snapper, offensive and defensive line and will get the nod to start at quarterback for the Tigers.
“He’s a Jack of all trades and has been a great team player, who has not always been a starter, but gets that opportunity and I’m really happy for him,” said Chi. “His teammates are very excited for him and we’re glad he will be in there for us. This will be a great way to end the season and football career [at South Pasadena High] for him.”
Junior Noah Aragon, who opened the season at QB, is dealing with some muscle issues on his throwing arm. Jackson Freking, only a sophomore, will serve in a backup role.
“We as a coaching staff we felt that Tino deserved this opportunity,” added Chi. “He’s always been that great teammate and we’re happy for him. Our guys are excited about having the chance to play. Hopefully, it will be a good game for both teams.”
Check in to SouthPasadenan.com for Friday’s game results