Photos by Tucker Judkins
The football team improved its preseason record to 4-0 after a hard-fought 16-7 victory over the Alhambra High School Moors on Friday, September 25.
Starting the first half, both teams struggled with adjusting to each other’s play style, leading to a punt from each side. Led by senior running back Jason Takarabe, the Tigers began their slow crawl into Moor territory, only to fall short of the endzone, with junior tight end Ben Quirk, who has come up big for the Tigers so far this season, reaching the Moors 20 yard line. In attempt to put up some points on the scoreboard, junior kicker Robert Amaral would attempt a field goal only to have it fall offline of the goalpost.
Alhambra would be to first to draw blood as Moors running back Joey Santana muscled into the end zone for a four yard touchdown run. With the extra point, South Pas found themselves down 7-0 ending the the first half.
Down in the second half and with the ball in Moors possession, the Tigers knew they needed a stop on defense. After multiple failed conversions, junior cornerback Jalen Ross would make the difference by forcing a crucial incompletion on third down, forcing the Moors to punt.
“When it came to halftime, I told my guys that we really needed to pick it up,” Ross said. “I told them that we needed heart and we needed to come out and play and compete with these guys.”
In at wide receiver, Ross would find himself at the Moors 43 yard line after a big reception from senior quarterback Michael Partida. With multiple drives churned out by senior fullback Christian Carter, the Tigers would reach the 27 yard line, only to be stopped at fourth and 7. Amaral would tally up the the Tigers’ first points of the game with a 37 yard field goal to put the score at 3-7 5:51 in the quarter.
“We went into this game a little head over heels but we knew we had to get this done because we weren’t going to settle for a loss,” Partida said. “We all got ourselves together, made our corrections out there in half time, and everyone got their minds straightened out.”
The Tiger defense would force another punt from Alhambra after being stopped at the South Pas 40 yard line. Alhambra would see the ball back again when stopping another South Pas drive. Determined to regain the lead, the Moors would attempt a pass at the Tigers’ 30 yard line, only to have it intercepted by sophomore safety Sydney Luna-long.
With Ross rushing to Alhambra’s 40 yard line, Takarabe would score the Tigers’ first touchdown in a 35 yard dash to the end zone. South Pas would fall short of scoring the two-point conversion, putting the score at 9-7.
Led by senior linebacker Anthony Bakhshi, the Tiger defense forced the Moors to punt, allowing South Pas to return on offense with the chance of extending their lead. After a five yard penalty, the Tigers slowly chiseled away at Alhambra’s defense, with Partida rushing at the one yard line for the the team’s second touchdown of the night.
Now up 16-7, the South Pas defense held the Moors at bay without a chance to score, until forcing a turnover on downs. Now in possession of the ball, the Tigers ran down the clock to claim their fourth victory of the season.
“I’m so proud of the team because they show character and how strong we are,” Partida added. “We showed that we won’t give up and I’m proud of them but we got to move on to game number five now.”
The Tigers final preseason game is scheduled at home against Beverly Hill High School on October 2. The previous year the Tigers clinched a 42-9 victory. The team’s first league game will be held on Color Day, October 9 against Rio Hondo rival La Cañada High School.