Tigers fend off Normans in final game before league, finish preseason 5-0

By Ryan Nakamura

Staff Writer

Photos by Tucker Judkins

The South Pasadena football team proved they’re prepared for Rio Hondo League season by clinching a 35-13 victory over Beverly Hills. The win solidified the Tigers’ undefeated preseason record, which they hope to carry over to league season.

Considering the 35 points scored, the Tigers had a quiet night offensively. South Pas, who has had a punishing ground attack all preseason, combined for a total of 114 rushing yards and one touchdown. The team passed for 156 yards, 99 more than Beverly Hills’ 57, and the Tigers found the end zone three times through the air. South Pasadena’s 22% third down efficiency was made up for by the seven turnovers, two fumbles and five picks, produced by the defense. Overall, however, the Tigers played an impressive game on both sides of the ball.

Neither side would back down in the first quarter, as South Pas was forced to punt early. Eager to slow the Normans down, senior middle linebacker Anthony Bakhshi forced a commanding fumble to get the ball back in Tiger hands, which led junior tight end Ben Quirk to the red zone, and put the Tiger offense in striking distance of the end zone. South Pas would score first with senior quarterback Michael Partida slinging a 13 yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Max Luck. Flustered by the touchdown, Beverly Hills faked their kickoff and instead went with an onside kick. Not expecting this, South Pas rushed to cover the ball, only to fumble it to the Normans.

Partida scrambles for a first down during the Tigers’ 35-13 win over Beverly Hills.

The Tiger offense answered right back when junior wide receiver Jalen Ross left three Norman players in the dust at the line of scrimmage during a 55 yard touchdown coming off of a screen pass from junior quarterback Adam Arellano. 9:59 into the second quarter, Beverly Hills tallied three receptions of their own in response. Now at the Tiger 45 yard line and facing a 3rd down, Norman quarterback Jake Wolken was picked off by senior safety Emiliano Sornoso. Sornoso ran the ball 55 yards to the house, recording a pick six to steal the Normans’ breath. Down 21-0, Beverly Hills took one last shot at scoring before the half ended, only to be intercepted again by Sornoso. The Tigers couldn’t make anything out of the good field position, and fell short at the 21 yard line ending the half up 21-0.

“Going into the second half we knew they [Beverley Hills] were going to come out fighting and it was up to us to hold them back as much as we could,” Senior defensive tackle Tony Perez said. “I feel like defense is a whole team and not just one person and that everyone needs to step up including myself. If we keep doing what we’re suppose to then we’ll be able to surprise everyone in league.”

The Tigers returned to the field with the same energy seen in the first half, and senior Christian Carter kept the momentum in South Pas’ favor by intercepting a Wolken pass 10:15 into the half. Under pressure, Arellano escaped a sack and scrambled for an impressive six yards to put South Pas at second and four at the 10 yard line. This led to senior running back Jason Takarabe dashing by Norman defenders to score another touchdown for South Pas. Luck would see the end zone again in the Tigers’ next drive from a six yard pass from Partida to to put 35 points on the scoreboard.

Takarabe (#32) finds a crease in the Norman defense and takes full advantage. Takarabe finished the game with 52 yards and a touchdown.

With running clock in effect, Beverly Hills was desperate to fire back against the dominant South Pas defense. Sure enough, Beverly Hills running back Rashad Ysaguirre stopped the clock with a 15 yard touchdown run to tighten the gap, 35-7.

Beverly Hills would recover their own onside kick to put the Normans in position for another touchdown. Senior wide receiver Raehaan Poonja received a 29 yard pass from Wolken to put back to back touchdowns on the board. Luck blocked the extra point to leave the final score at 35-13.

“We were a little hyped from getting our lead so fast so then we weren’t focused and that’s why we need to work on being able to adjust more,” Sornoso added. “We just gotta pick up a couple mistakes we’re still making and with that we’ll be ready for league.”

Now 5-0, the Tigers look to start Rio Hondo League season off with a win against school rival La Cañada at home on October 9, which is Color Day.