A giant step was taken Friday night by South Pasadena High’s football team as the Tigers recorded a 21-14 victory over visiting Magnolia in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.
The Division 13 win now puts South Pasadena into the quarterfinals next week, as it will face Upland’s Western Christian, which defeated Riverside Prep on the road.
Moving forward, the Tigers, three wins away from a CIF title, improved to 6-5 overall, coming off a 3-2 third place Rio Hondo League finish. Magnolia, making an hour-plus bus ride from Anaheim to South Pasadena, ended its season with a 4-7 mark, including a 2-3 record in the Orange League. The Sentinels came into the playoffs as an at-large team.
All week in preparation to face Magnolia, South Pasadena coach Jeff Chi said his team’s mindset “was to find a way to win,” stressing the importance of challenging his players “to make plays for us.”
And that they did as Tigers’ quarterback Noah Aragon hit Grant Huntley on a 53-yard scoring pass, found James Dowd on a 15 yarder for another, while running back Jack Riffle ran one in from 28 yards out.
“I’m happy for the whole city, said Chi, following the first round win. “This hasn’t been done in a long time. I’m happy to be a part of it. I’m happy for the players, coaches and everybody involved with it. Now we just have to get ready for Western Christian next Friday.”
Seeded No. 1 in CIF Division 13, the Tigers roll on in their quest for a CIF championship, which would be their first since 1975 when they edged Villa Park 13-12 for the title. Prior to that, South Pasadena picked up CIF crowns in 1959, 1962, 1966 and 1969.
Magnolia jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the first quarter before South Pasadena put 14 points on the board in the second period, taking an eight-point advantage into the half. The Tigers went in front 21-6 after three quarters before the Sentinels scored their final touchdown, added a two-point conversion, making it 21-14 in the final period.
In other local action Friday night, Rio Hondo League champion Monrovia fell to Norte Vista 27-25. It was the first loss of the season for the Wildcats (10-1) while the Braves improved to 11-0 in Division 6 play. Pasadena Poly, runner-up to Monrovia in league play, won its Division 8 game over Westminister, coming out on top 20-5.