By Ryan Nakamura
Photos by Matt Scholtz
South Pas football kicked off their 2016 season with a 35-20 victory at Rosemead High School last Friday, August 26 to start the Tigers off with a 1-0 preseason record.
Most of the bystanders were unsure how the two teams would fare against each other as the Tigers and the Rosemead Panthers hadn’t played against each other since 1977.
Nevertheless, the Tigers made sure to create a big impression on their first drive down the Panthers’ home field.
South Pas and their new offense quickly showed how versatile they can be on the field with senior quarterback Adam Arellano marching his team down the field. Senior receiver Ben Quirk provided key first downs on post and drag routes for Arellano to put the Tigers in the Panthers’ red zone. Senior Jalen Ross would conclude the drive with a rushing touchdown to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead on the team’s first drive.
Rosemead would try to generate an offensive presence on their next drive and reach the Tigers’ 37 yard line on fourth down. The Panthers would stopped three yards short of a first down and turnover the ball back to the Tigers. South Pas switched up their offense and displayed an effective run game from junior Jackson Totleben to help reach the Panthers’ 36 yard line. On third down and three yards, Arellano utilized a quarterback scramble to give the Tigers a first down and push South Pas within striking distance of the endzone.
On second and 10, Arellano would find senior wide receiver Jonathan Calderon to make a sliding catch in the endzone for the team’s second touchdown off of a 30 yard pass. The Tigers would end the first quarter leading in the game 14-0, with Rosemead have little success offensively.
Rosemead returned back in the second quarter, determined to regain the initiative on offense. With possession of the ball, the Panthers managed to reach the Tigers’ 20 yard line in a passing frenzy. Rosemead followed up this performance with its first touchdown of the game on a post route shortly after. The Panthers managed to convert two points on the attempt to put the score at 14-8. The Tigers responded back the next drive with a 44 yard fullback dive into the endzone from junior Gavin Chi, giving the Tigers a two posession lead at 21-8.
The Tigers defense returned in force against the Panthers. The Rosemead offense, stuck in their own red zone, would punt away to give South Pas the ball at the Tigers 42 yard line. Arellano would once again lead the Tigers back to Rosemead’s red zone at the 10 yard line, where he connected with junior tight end Matt Walker for a score of 28-8 to end the second quarter.
The third quarter saw a shift in momentum between the two teams. The Panthers took over the field with an effective run game against South Pas. After a 23 yard halfback option, followed by a 20 yard run to the third yard line, Rosemead would reach the endzone the next play, trailing 28-14 at the end of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter began with both teams suffering an offensive drought, forcing the latter to punt away. Although the Tigers managed to regain possession the next drive, South Pas would falter on offense and punt away again. Rosemead however, managed to block the punt in Tiger territory and score two plays later to make the score 28-20 with South Pas in the lead. The next drive, a Rosemead defensive player would suffer an undisclosed head injury on the field and would be rushed to the hospital shortly after.
The Tigers’ offense would be energized by a breakout run game from Ross. Ross pushed South Pas down the field to the Panthers 30 yard line. From here, Ross would break past the Rosemead defense to score his second touchdown of the night and set the score at 35-20. The Panthers would turnover the ball the next play, where South Pas regained possession and ran down the clock to seal the game for the Tigers.
“We still have a lot of improvement to do on offense and defense but we showed a lot of heart today and we came out and did what we were suppose to do,” Ross said. “As of now, I liked everybody’s effort on the field and I feel that we can go far in league.”
South Pasadena will travel to Santa Clarita Christian High School in the team’s next game of preseason on Saturday, September 3. The Tigers pulled off a 31-28 victory the past year against the Santa Clarita Cardinals.