The San Marino High School varsity football team showed what it is capable of at Hacienda Heights Los Altos last Friday with two scores in the first quarter. However, the Titans also displayed their inexperience with key mistakes down the stretch, allowing the Conquerors to come away with a 42-28 victory in the teams’ season opener.
“A few mistakes,” said SMHS head coach Mike Hobbie. “That’s it. A few mistakes turned into a lot of mistakes. They gave us a hard time. We’re very inexperienced, especially on the offensive line. Once they stopped doing what we practiced and started doing something else, we fell apart. That killed us. It killed our running game.”
San Marino will look to bounce back in a nonleague game against Dominguez High School at Compton College this Friday, Sept. 1, at 7 p.m.
Mistakes in the Open Field
Most of the mistakes committed by the Titans (0-1 overall record) were in open space. The young squad missed tackles and allowed Los Altos receivers and running backs to extend their plays.
“It was obvious in open space,” Hobbie said. “We missed a lot of tackles, and it was the same in open-space blocking. They have good athletes over there. It was tough for us.”
The defense showed potential early in the contest with a turnover and by keeping Los Altos senior quarterback Kody Olmos at bay.
The offense took advantage of the Conquerors’ slow start and jumped out to a 14-0 lead, but the home squad came alive just before the end of the opening quarter. Olmos scampered 76 yards to put his team on the board, giving him confidence throughout the rest of the contest. He threw two touchdowns and added another rushing score in the fourth quarter that gave the home squad a 42-20 lead with 2:18 remaining in the game.
“It’s not like we don’t work on tackling,” Hobbie said. “We work on it. Sometimes you just face some tough athletes out on that open field. That’s our problem playing against schools with a lot of athletes. Normally, we wouldn’t play these guys or schedule them.”
Offensively, the Titans were limited because of their lack of speed. Several key receivers were not on the field because of injury.
“In the second half, they got in our face and played man-to-man,” Hobbie said. “Without our speedy receivers playing for us, it really hurts. It definitely showed.”
Plenty of Hope
Despite the result, Hobbie saw potential in his squad. The Titans, competing in CIF Southern Section Division 6, had Los Altos, which competes in Division 5, on its heels by scoring two early touchdowns.
“They tried hard,” Hobbie said. “I can’t ask for more. I’ve got plenty of hope. I’m not short on hope. We got young, inexperienced players. For juniors like Darren Li and Carson Giles at tackle, and Tommy Long at center, these are big games. In years past, we had young players get a chance to play varsity during blowouts, but we didn’t have that last season. This is their first time playing.”
San Marino’s biggest hope is in running back Beau Hobbie, who ran for 48 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. The junior displayed his quick burst and an ability to shed tackles, most notably in a 90-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter. He capped the drive with a 2-yard touchdown run.
“I’m excited about Beau, but I wasn’t surprised,” Hobbie said of his grandson, who also caught six passes for 39 yards. “He was able to make them miss and had some good catches.”
The defense also showed promise in limiting the Conquerors to only 14 points in the first half and forcing two turnovers. Cornerback Caleb Shohfi had one of the biggest plays in the game, anticipating a pass from Olmos and jumping in front of the receiver for an interception.
The Titans were unable to keep their intensity in the final two quarters. Los Altos offense took advantage of a fatigued San Marino defense, which includes two-way players such as E.J. Sung and Beau Hobbie.
“The kids played hard in that game but that wore down with some of our guys going both ways,” Hobbie said.
Hobbie upheld his promise of expanding the playbook, giving senior quarterback Blake Cabot freedom to make decisions at the line of scrimmage and allowing him to throw the football.
Cabot completed 15 of 24 passes for 138 yards but threw two costly interceptions. He also showed much grit by running for a team-high 79 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
“There’s a lot he did well,” Hobbie said of his quarterback. “But when he did badly, he did badly. It’s all decision making. Blake is capable of making good decisions. He’s a smart kid. He needs to not predetermine his decision. There’s a lot to build on. I’m not putting the entire season on one game. I thought this was a game in which we had a good chance to win.”