Written by Noah Parker
Photos by Thomas Forman
Under the new leadership of head coach Jeff Chi, South Pasadena football hopes to find success yet again in the highly competitive Rio Hondo League. The team has made the CIF playoffs two years in a row, following more than a decade long drought.
The Tigers became a newfound force in the Rio Hondo League under former head coach CB Richards. Leading the school to two straight CIF appearances, Richards created a winning culture around South Pasadena Football. The team, which hadn’t posted a winning record in league in four years, broke through with six league wins in two years.
Chi, who was an assistant during Richard’s two year tenure, hopes to maintain the atmosphere surrounding the team.
“[Chi] been in the program for a long time,” senior Jackson Totleben said. “I don’t think this is a rough transition because he knows how we like to do things.”
The team’s biggest goal for the 2017 season is to win the league, something they haven’t done in 40 years.
“There’s a lot of things we want to accomplish, but we just have to make sure we take care of all the little details first,” Chi said.
Coach Chi and the Tigers will have to overcome the losses of key players from last year’s team in order to live up to the high expectations. Wide receiver/running back Jalen Ross and quarterback Adam Arellano will not be returning for the 2017 season. The two combined for nearly 60% of the team’s offense and will be sorely missed on the that side of the field.
Jalen is pretty irreplaceable. We don’t have anybody else quite like him,” Totleben said.
South Pasadena will also lose Rio Hondo League Defensive Player of the Year Ben Quirk, who led the team with 46 tackles last year.
The largest casualties, however, are in the offensive line. The Tigers will only return one starter from last year. Yet Chi believes the new batch of lineman may be even stronger than last year’s.
I think we had a solid offseason with the younger group of lineman. They are very strong compared to last year,” Chi said. “It’s just a matter of giving them experience and playing time to see how they perform under pressure,” he added.
Due to the heavy losses on the offensive side of the ball, senior running back Jackson Totleben will need to take charge of the offense. Totleben flourished in the starting running back role last year, averaging 6.8 yards per rush.
The Tigers will also rely on young and less-experienced players to provide them with an extra spark this year. Senior Sidney Luna-Long, who attempted only three passes last year, will take over the starting quarterback position. Junior Justin Huff will also share time at the position.
We have a lot of young guys that have stepped up and I think we have filled all the skill positions pretty well,” Chi said.
South Pas’ first game of the 2017 season will take place on Friday, August 25, when they will take on Rosemead. The Tigers found success against the Panthers last year, beating them by a score of 35-20.