Photos by Tucker Judkins
The South Pasadena football team closed out their Rio Hondo League opener against school rival La Cañada in a 36-0 blowout on Friday, October 9.
With the team having only two home games this season, the team celebrated senior night, which saw off 15 players before the game with the team’s other home game scheduled against San Marino on homecoming night.
The Spartans started the game off with possession, but two false starts and a pair of time outs derailed their opening drive. The Tigers, on the other hand, were dominant in the first half, and kicked the game off with a 44 yard dash from junior Jalen Ross in at running back. This would put senior wide receiver Max Luck in position to receive an over the shoulder pass from quarterback Michael Partida to score the Tigers’ first points 9:27 into the game. Next came an 18 yard pitch to Ross who put turned the corner and gave the Tigers back to back scores. The extra point would be blocked by the Spartans, leaving the score at 13-0 in the first. With the kickoff underway, junior safety Anthony Quezada forced a ball strip on the returner and the Tigers retained possession. Although the offense couldn’t convert, the Tigers were in high gear for second quarter.
Coming back on the field, both defenses were stingy, and the game struggled to see a first down. La Cañada would tally a first down on their next possession with running back Ryan Breneman converting multiple downs on the Tigers’ defense. However, senior cornerback Kenneth Linares intercepted the ball in the red zone to springboard South Pas back onto the offensive. Junior kicker Robert Amaral, in at running back, sprinted 26 yards and reached the Tiger 46 yard line on the first play. Luck would follow up with a pass from Partida to get the Tigers at the opposite 33 yard line. With six seconds left in the half, Partida would again look to Luck, who completed a juggling catch in the end zone to score for the Tigers. With the extra point, the Tigers led at the half 20-0.
“A lot of people doubted us from the start but we didn’t let anyone tell us any different,” Senior cornerback Max Garcia said. “We knew what we were capable of and we came out with everything we had. Beating La Cañada set us up for playoffs big time and we just got a major morale boost off it.”
With South Pas setting up the offense at the Tiger 20 yard line, Ross, in at wide receiver, pulled out 64 yards after a pass from Partida to get the Tigers in striking distance for another touchdown. Luck would receive a lob pass from Partida to add six more points on the scoreboard. The Tigers failed to score a two point conversion and the score totaled 26-0.
“We’ve been looking forward to this game the whole summer so it was great to shut them out and show we’re the better team overall,” senior Emiliano Sornoso said. “I feel like we could do better but we played at the level we were expected to play at. Now we’re aiming for the next team and the next step in the season.”
The Spartans took over after the kickoff, but back-to-back sacks would force La Cañada to punt away. As Ross, in at returner, waved off the team for a fair catch, a kick catch interference penalty from a Spartan player put the Tigers at the 45 yard line. Luck would return to the endzone for the fourth time with a six yard pass to rack up 33 points with the extra point good.
Knowing they may be shut out, the Spartans, led by Breneman, drove deeper into Tiger territory. Bent on scoring a touchdown, La Cañada attempted a passing play, only to be intercepted by Sornoso on the goalline. After returning 29 yards, South Pas aimed at one more drive against the Spartans. Making their way to the 13 yard line, the Tigers put Amaral in position to score a field goal and run the clock down at 36 points. The Tigers would hold out against the La Cañada drives and complete their first game of league season 36-0.
“With all the talk about how South Pas isn’t a good team and we haven’t played any competition; we came out and showed everyone that we are as good as we say we are,” Luck said. “It’s a great experience especially since it’s on Color Day to win against our rivals and scoring four touchdowns on a day like this is unbelievable.”
Partida ended the game with 226 passing yards with Luck accounting for 121 of those receiving yards and four touchdowns. Ross racked up 56 rushing yards in the game and one touchdown of his own while Sornoso and Linares each took home an interception apiece during the game. Senior Christian Carter led the team’s defense with seven tackles and two tackles for loss with Luck assisting five tackles.
“It’s a good start to league beating La Cañada and that’s what it’s really all about,” Defensive Coordinator Josh Underwood said. “When our competition steps up, we’ve got to step up and we did just that tonight with this win.”
The team’s next matchup is scheduled against Blair High School at John Muir High on October 16 at 7:00 p.m. The previous season, the Tigers took a 55-0 walkover win at home.