Long before South Pasadena High’s 41-0 blowout win against Bassett Friday night, Tigers’ coach Jeff Chi started thinking about his next opponent.
Pasadena Poly, which rolls into South Pasadena with an identical 4-1 record, has been circled on the calendar for months as, perhaps, the toughest game on the Tigers non-league schedule.
“It’s going to be a huge contest for us,” said Chi, following his team’s routine “take care of business” performance against the Olympians, still in search of their first win.
“It’s going to be a good test for us,” said Chi, looking ahead to the October 4 matchup at home against the Panthers. “I want these guys to have a really good game, make it competitive, execute of offense, tackle on defense and have an overall good game. That’s all we can ask of our guys. That’s our goal. We’re just looking for a solid week of practice in preparation for these guys.”
Appreciating Friday’s one sided contest against 0-6 Bassett, Chi gave his team off on Saturday, excusing them from the usual routine of coming to the school to watch film at 8:30 a.m., followed by some light stretching.
“We just want the guys to relax, enjoy this win tonight, have the weekend to themselves then come back ready to go on Monday,” Chi said, proud of his team’s effort at the midway point of the season.
Chi knew that as long as his club did its part against the Olympians, making the hour-long bus ride from La Puente to get to South Pasadena, the Tigers would be in a good position to come away with a victory in their fifth game of the year.
“I knew Bassett was hurting a little bit in the line, both offense and defense, so we tried to exploit that a little bit,” said Chi. “We just wanted to get on top of them right away, wear them down, then eat of the clock at the end. We didn’t try to run up the score or anything. It just kind of worked out that way.”
The Tigers scored their 41st point with about 8 minutes to go in the game and with the huge lead the officials enforced the CIF-mandated running clock run, ending it quickly.
“I’m proud of the kids,” said Chi afterwards. “We’re improving, but we need to get better and improve even more if we’re going to get past Pasadena Poly. We still have to cut down on penalties.”
It was another highly-productive night for Tigers’ quarterback Samual Luna Long, who was 9 of 13 for 278 yards and threw for three touchdowns, one to Grant Huntley for 45 yards, a second to Jonathan Stride for 78 and a third to Terrance Sweetman for 73.
Picking up yards in chunks, Ethan Hong, the Tigers’ go-to guy on the ground, rushed for 89 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns, one from five yards out and the other for six.
Stride found seams in Bassett’s defensive secondary, making with two catches for 103 yards to go along with his reception for a TD. Huntley had three of his own for 65 yards and a TD. Sweetman pulled in two passes, including his touchdown. Speedy Jonathan Choi caught his first pass of the season, going 35 yards down the right sideline, headed for what appeared to be for a score, before stepping out of bounds.
The Tigers were in control from the outset, leading 21-0 at the half, 34-0 after three quarters and finally ending the scoring on a 11-yard touchdown run, making it 41-0, by Brian Zepeda.
Playing an up tempo, no huddle offense, the Tigers grabbed a 7-0 first quarter lead the first time they had the ball as Luna-Long hit Huntley down the middle, before the fleet receiver found an opening on the 45-yard play with 2:50 to go in the period.
The Tigers stuck again early in the second quarter as Luna-Long hit Stride on a perfectly thrown scoring pass, showing speed on the catch down the middle for nearly 80 yards.
South Pasadena stretched it lead to 21-0 with just 54 second to go before the half when Hong carried over from the Olympians’ six, ending a 5-play, 36 yard drive.
Bassett tried an onside kick to open the third quarter and after failing to recover, it took the Tigers just seven plays before they were back in the end zone, Hong going the final five yards for the touchdown with 9:21 left, making it 27-0 after the conversion was missed.
The Tigers added a second third period score when Sweetman hauled in a pass and went the distance on the 73-yarder, putting South Pasadena out in front comfortably 34-0.
In making his lone catch of the night, Choi set the stage for South Pasadena’s final score when he raced down the sideline trying to avoid going out of bounds. Following the 35-yard run, it took the Tigers only three plays before Zepeda gained a handful of yards, good enough for the Tigers 41st point in the lopsided game.
Defensively, Zepeda, Stride, Quentin Pithey, Julian Cabrera, and Zazriel King all finished with seven tackles each. Along with a standout night on offense, Sweetman came away with a pair of interceptions and knocked away two passes.
Now the focus is on Pasadena Poly, with Rio Hondo League scheduled the following week as rival San Marino come into Roosevelt Field on October 11, followed by road games against Monrovia and Temple City on October 18 and 25, respectively, before the regular season winds up November 1 at home when La Canada pays a visit.
“It doesn’t get any easier from here,” explained Chi. “We’ll use the Pasadena Poly game to get ready for the league season. They’re a really good team. They had a bye this week, so they’ve had two weeks to prepare for us. We have to come out and play our best football to compete with them. It’s going to be a tough one, but we should be ready.”