Story by Solana Singer
Photo by Samantha Shiroishi
SPHS football stepped off the field of the Hoover Tornados on Friday, Sept. 8 with a final score of 48-15, moving into their next game bolstered by a 4-0 win streak.
The game began slowly, with the Tigers experiencing a rocky start. Two minutes in, senior running back Jason Hong began to showcase his offensive excellence with several back-to-back short runs past the Hoover defense. A minute later, junior quarterback Zachary Lee made a clean pass to junior tight end James Dowd. With Lee supporting him in several handoffs, Hong continued to rush into the Tornados’ territory, trying valiantly to push his way into their end zone. A beautiful throw to Hong, waiting in the endzone, fixed the Tigers’ first touchdown of the afternoon, and put the first six points on the board.
Senior running back Luke Riffle made a key tackle to dissolve a Hoover passing play shortly afterwards. With six minutes to go, the momentum picked up. Senior running back Devin Robinson enjoyed a long run, but was tackled before reaching the end zone. 30 seconds later, Hong scored a running touchdown. For a tally of 13-0, senior punter Sawyer Fox scored the extra point.
SPHS pushed on, swiftly squashing any advances from Hoover. Receiving a clean kickoff from Fox, Hoover barely rushed two yards before South Pasadena’s defensive line tackled the opposing runner to end the play. With five minutes left, senior cornerback Harrison Farley intercepted a Tornado pass. Senior cornerback Elijah Garcia caught a pass for a third touchdown, followed by Fox’s extra point for a score of 20-0. After an excellent kickoff by Fox, junior middle-linebacker Alessandro Jemai tackled a Hoover player to close out the quarter.
The second quarter began with a touchdown and extra point from the Tornados, leaving the score at 20-7. Hong pushed the SPHS offense forward with a lengthy run a minute into the quarter. After a missed pass from senior quarterback Liam Ohannesian to Dowd, Ohannesian handed the ball off to Hong for an elegant long run, bringing the Tigers just yards away from the Tornados’ end zone. This went nowhere straight away, but a minute later, Hong made another, shorter run to attempt a touchdown. Ohannesian completed a throw to Garcia, and Hong rushed for a five-yard touchdown. Fox scored the extra point to give SPHS a 20-point lead.
Ohannesian passed to Dowd with five minutes to go. Receiving a 45-yard pass from Ohannesian, Riffle slipped past the Hoover defense for a running touchdown a minute later. Fox kicked the extra point for a score of 34-7. With less than three minutes left, Riffle intercepted a Hoover throw to steal possession of the ball. A 20-yard pass from Lee to Dowd made for a clean touchdown with one minute left in the quarter. A shoulder bump between the two celebrated the victory as Fox kicked the extra point for a total tally of 41-7. The Tigers ended the half showcasing their powerful defense with a key tackle preventing a Tornado running back from rushing another touchdown.
The second half was uneventful compared to the first. Quarter three started off strong with a great punt by Fox pushing play far away from SPHS’s end zone. Five minutes in, Ohannesian made an adept pass to Dowd. Robinson somersaulted to just barely miss a pass from Jemai a minute later. Senior defensive tackle Gabriel Bomfiglio forced a skillful tackle to close out the third quarter.
The first notable play of the final quarter was a polished pass from junior quarterback Cameron Park to Dowd. A minute later, sophomore running back Trey Freking forced a rush. Jemai followed suit with a run of his own, gaining several yards on Hoover’s defense. With six minutes on the clock, Park executed a 25-yard pass to Robinson for a touchdown. Fox made the extra point for a score of 48-7.
The Tigers’ subsequent kickoff was immediately seized by the Tornados; SPHS spent the final five minutes working to prevent Hoover from reaching their end zone. With under a minute left, the Tigers’ defense broke and allowed the Tornados to score a rushing touchdown, followed by a successful two-point conversion for a final score of 48-15.
“It’s always good to see when our…backups come out and perform well,” Head Coach Jeff Chi said. “When Cameron came in as a quarterback in the fourth quarter and threw the ball to, I think it was Devin Robinson, for a passing touchdown, I thought that was pretty impressive. We had a lot of…newcomers that stepped in and…they were able to tackle and fill in gaps.”
SPHS won by 33 points, boosted by seven touchdowns each smoothly orchestrated by the Tigers’ offensive line.
“We started off strong behind our running back Jason Hong, best in the Rio Hondo league,” Riffle said. “I think our defense performed pretty well. I think we could’ve done a little better, I think our team started a little sluggish…but in the end we did pretty well…I’m looking forward to starting league strong against San Marino, and then go over to Monrovia and beat them, too.”
The Tigers await league play to further test their team, the first game of which will be against defending San Marino.
“We blew ‘em out,” Dowd said. “We knew we were [going to] do it when we got here; you know, we just had to execute and we did, so, [we did] pretty well.”
The Tigers will take on the Alhambra Moors at home on Friday, Sept. 15 at 7 p.m. in their final non-league game.