Photos by Luke Quezada
The South Pas football team will hope to return to the CIF playoffs this year after failing to qualify for the postseason for the third straight year with a 1-3 record in league play in 2017. After losing 18 players to graduation, the Tigers will have to make up for the departures of key seniors on both sides of the ball.
Last season, South Pas got off to an impressive 4 – 2 start in Jeff Chi’s first year as head coach, but was unable to carry the momentum into league play, suffering blowout losses to San Marino, Monrovia, and Temple City. After giving up nearly 38 points per game last year, the defense will have to improve significantly in order for the Tigers to have a shot at a Rio Hondo League championship.
On offense, senior quarterback Justin Huff will lead the Tigers after earning the starting job under center last year. Huff will be without his top weapons, receivers Sidney Luna-Long and Danny Rios, and leading running backs, Jackson Totleben and Gavin Chi, from a year ago. After a season in which the Tigers relied on their running game, rushing responsibilities will be assumed by the backfield tandem of seniors Jacob Barnes and Logan Svihovec-McCarty.
The offensive line’s ability to provide time for Huff to find receivers downfield will be key for the Tigers this year. An injury-riddled O-line was unable to hold off opposing pass rushes last year, especially in league play. If given enough time to maneuver, senior wideout Aidan Adams and junior Ivan Estrada will be Huff’s main contributors at the skill positions on offense this year.
Barnes and Svihovec-McCarty will also have important roles on defense for the Tigers. At middle linebacker, McCarty will lead the defense after being one of the team’s leading tacklers last year. Barnes, a returning starter, will hope to cause havoc up front on the defensive line, along with senior Wyatt Osburn and junior Jared Lachica. In the secondary, Adams will be the team’s top defensive back in his second year as a starter.
“Looking forward to the year, I think this team will be a closer unit than in previous years,” Barnes said. “We’ve played together for a long time and everything is clicking in practice. Everyone has been busting their *ss [in practice] and I truly believe that it will show on the field.”
While SPHS will be smaller in physical size and numbers, Barnes believes that their hard work and chemistry will be a recipe for success.
“Our goals are to beat San Marino, and to win league,” Barnes said.
The Tigers will look to start their 2018 campaign off with a win when they take on Mountain View at home on Friday, August 17th. The Vikings and Tigers both posted 5-5 overall records in the 2017 season.