Football triumphs over Hoover Tornadoes

By Alex Nakagawa

Staff Writer

Photos by Stephanie Kim

Everything went right for the Tigers last Friday, as the South Pasadena High School football team emerged victorious in a one-sided affair 39-0 against the Hoover High School Tornadoes.

The Tigers outsized and outmatched Hoover in every position, and they were able to run a flexible and balanced game from start to finish without much response, ending the match with over 400 total yards of offense. Senior fullback Alton Phillips provided huge yards for South Pasadena, along with great contributions from junior wide receiver Emiliano Sornoso, who had two touchdowns, and senior running back Matthew Ayala. The Tigers’ defense stopped Hoover from crossing into Tiger territory almost every possession. South Pasadena’s defense benefitted from the notable performance of senior defensive tackle Jeremy Escandon.

“We changed up the defense a little, and it really payed off,” junior linebacker Jeremy Gabler said. “We brought another linebacker into the box to stop the run [of Hoover].”

Two plays into the game, Ayala ran the ball 64 yards into the endzone to start what had become a long string of points in the first half. In the next Tigers possession, junior quarterback Michael Partida ran on a keeper that brought the score up to 14-0 with over half the first period still left on the clock. Junior wide receiver Max Luck caught the ball on a quick throw from Partida, and shook off two defenders for a great run of 12 yards. With 1:44 remaining, Partida handed the ball off to Sornoso who powered through the middle for a 43 yard touchdown. After a missed PAT attempt, the Tigers ended the first quarter with the momentum on their side 20-0.

“I feel really good,” Sornoso said. “We really stepped up from last game, especially on our blocking, staying in motion and not racking up as many penalties.”

With the big point cushion on their side, the Tigers took more risks and were more aggressive, converting on three 4th down plays.

With 8:49 left in the 2nd quarter, Partida’s pass went a little too far, and Hoover’s Joel Bellvue intercepted the ball in-play, but a quick read from Luck led to a controversial safety, and the Tigers brought their lead to 22-0. The Tigers picked up right where they left off, as an outstanding kick return from senior free safety Ernesto Jauregui brought him all the way to the Tornadoes’ 3 yard line. Phillips finished what Jauregui started with a seemingly effortless goal-line rush to make it 29-0 at halftime.

“I feel excellent,” Phillips said, “I can’t tell you how proud I am of this team right here. We came out aggressively, we were focused and we came out with 100 percent intensity.”

Despite the running clock, the game began to slow a little bit in the 3rd quarter due to multiple time outs and penalties on both teams. The Tigers went back on their scoring tear, with Phillips’ 50-yard run, leading to Sornoso’s second touchdown of the game. Hoover attempted to convert a fake punt pass on their own goal line, but an aggrresive South Pasadena defensive line forced another safety, scoring the final points of the game to end the third quarter 39-0.

“Don’t get comfortable, it’s only one game,” said the Tigers’ coaching staff as the team entered the locker room for the post-game spiel.

This was a reasonable precaution, as the Tigers will need a replica of their performance against Hoover to beat the Dynamiters of Glendale High School on Friday, September 19, who comes off of a tough 20-0 loss to La Cañada High School. The Tigers lost to Glendale last season 26-14, and hope to avenge the loss with authority.

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