By Ryan Nakamura
Photos by Matt Scholtz
In thrilling fashion, the South Pasadena Tigers dominated its league opener against Temple City High School at home by a score of 37-14 last Friday, October 7.
“Today I don’t think we played to our full potential but once we fix up on those mistakes and penalties I think we’re going to be dangerous force in Rio Hondo League,” senior offensive guard Josh Hwang said. “If we fix up on our mistakes and everything goes our way, I think we can be a force to reckon with [and] in our division I think we can go far with this team.”
After the Tigers had come off their 51-0 rout over the Gabrielino Eagles the previous week, South Pas was determined to display the same level of intensity against the Rams.
The Tigers first drive of the day showcased the team’s capabilities on the ground and in the air after reaching the end zone with less than 10 snaps. Senior receiver Jalen Ross immediately made an impact on the field after catching a crucial 15 yard pass to give the Tigers a first down at the Rams’ 49 yard line. Junior running back Jackson Totleben followed up this play with a 25 yard gallop of his own, putting the ball at the 20 yard line and in good field position to score. Finally, the Tigers capped off the play when senior quarterback Adam Arellano connected with Ross in the end zone to make the score 7-0 9:42 in the first quarter.
South Pas showed no signs of slowing their momentum on defense after senior defensive end Aric Quan racked up two back to back tackles on the ball carrier, forcing a Rams punt to the 27 yard line. Although South Pas seemed intent on scoring the next drive, the Rams ‘defense grounded out the Tigers at the Temple City 29 yard line after failing to convert on fourth down. Temple City’s second offensive drive managed to produce quality yardage against the Tigers, reaching the team’s 40 yard line. The Rams hopes were cut short after Quan forced a fumble on Temple City’s ball carrier. Senior Jonathan Calderon recovered the ball and took it 60 yards to the house, making the score 14-0 in the first quarter.
The Tigers’ third drive on offense allowed South Pas to line up for a field goal after going three and out for a score 17-0 starting the second quarter. South Pasadena’s defense continued to be the anchor for the team as senior defensive end Max Lockridge recovered the ball off of a Rams botched snap. The Tigers offense began to struggle in the next drive and punted the ball into Rams territory, allowing the defense to take over again. After pressuring the Temple City quarterback to throw the ball, South Pasadena’s defense tallied its third forced turnover when Calderon picked off the ball 6:15 into the quarter. The Tigers’ offense thrusted itself into the endzone after Arellano kept the ball for a 23 yard run the next play for a score of 24-0.
Temple City’s offense returned to the field determined to score. After reaching the Tigers’ nine yard line, the Rams failed to convert any yardage and decided to opt for a field goal. Instead of converting however, junior defensive lineman Josh Saucedo blocked the field goal to leave the Rams scoreless heading into halftime.
Returning in the second half, Temple City’s first drive saw the quarterback connect with an open receiver for a 66 yard dash to the Tigers’ eight yard line. Although the Rams were in the Tigers red zone, Temple City struggled to find the endzone. Senior linebacker Ben Quirk made an important third down tackle, forcing the Rams to attempt another field goal. South Pas experienced an offensive drought the following play and instead turned the ball over to the Rams. In similar fashion, Temple City failed to convert a touchdown on the drive and instead scored another field goal to make the score 24-6.
South Pasadena’s defense continued to anchor the Tigers heading into the fourth quarter. Temple City’s offense began to implode against South Pas after another fumble ended up being recovered by Quan in the endzone for a score of 31-6. The Tigers’ offense would score its fifth touchdown of the night off of a four yard run by Totleben to make the score 37-6. Temple City’s lone touchdown of the night came late in the fourth quarter making the final score 37-14. The Tigers’ offense took the field for the last drive of the night and ran down the clock.
“It feels good to lead a team into this kind of victory but again we had a slow second half so we just got to work on our second half offense and pick it up,” Arellano said. “[In terms of league] I want to take this team all the way. I have high expectations out of this group and want to make a deep run in league.”
South Pasadena looks to maintain its momentum heading into its second game of league at La Cañada on Friday, October 14. Last year the Tigers opened league against the Spartans to clinch a 36-0 win over the school rivals.
“I hope we continue on this path and keep all this momentum going on the team,” Quirk said. “We got our defense playing as best as we can be and we have our offense coming together and I’m just hoping we stay on this track right now and that nothing happens.”