The San Marino High School varsity football team faced a tough preseason schedule and it didn’t get any easier in its Rio Hondo League opener last Friday.
The Titans managed to stall the visiting Wildcats’ run game but struggled to contain them through the air asMonrovia quarterback Nick Hernandez threw for 395 yards and led his team to a 35-0 victory over San Marino.
“Defensively, we’re stepping up and playing hard,” said SMHS head coach Justin Mesa. “We’re doing a good job against the run but they exploited us throwing the football.”
Mesa’s squad fell to 1-6 on the season, including a 0-1 mark in league. San Marino will look to get back on the win column at South Pasadena this Friday. The rivalry game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Never Give Up
Monrovia (6-1 overall record, 1-0 in league) wasted little time in reaching the end zone. Hernandez connected with Daylen Wilson for a 46-yard touchdown pass, giving the Wildcats the lead with 10:37 remaining in the first quarter.
The Wildcats, who built a 28-0 lead at the half, continued with its aerial assault and found pay dirt a second time when Mario Minor caught a 51-yard touchdown pass, giving his team a 14-0 advantage following the extra point.
Despite the early deficit, San Marino kept fighting, especially on defense. On Monrovia’s next possession, Hernandez was intercepted by Seth Matzumoto. Jackson Herren also picked off the Wildcats with 1:24 remaining in the first half.
“Our guys fight,” Mesa said. “That’s been the story. I told the guys that it seems like the speech is the same all too many times this season. Those guys are not going to give up, especially on defense. We lost some players on offense, and you can see that. Defensively, we’re stepping up and playing hard. We’ve been doing a good job against the run.”
The visiting squad struggled to establish the run and was limited to only 92 yards on 22 carries. Zeph Pascasio led the Wildcats with 70 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
Limited On Offense
With multiple injuries to receiving corps and offensive line, San Marino was unable to give sophomore quarterback Niko Mavridis enough time to find an open receiver, especially with Monrovia’s speedy cornerbacks.
Mavridis completed only two passes for 16 yards and was intercepted once. Mesa leaned heavily on junior running back Nick Singhal, who ran for 115 yards on 26 carries.
Despite the struggles on offense, Mesa is optimistic after noticing the boys’ interest in the play calling.
“The things that we’re doing are new,” said the first-year head coach. “The other day, we had guys asking a lot more questions and understanding the schemes. This is something we started in May, rushed to learn and then had three weeks off. Just as we started to build, it truly was a preseason of guys learning for us. I’m pleased with the direction we’re going. Obviously the results aren’t there. We’re low on numbers and the amount of reps our players are taking have taken a toll. But we’re out here still fighting.”
The Titans had a difficult preseason schedule and league opener, making them battle-tested against the remaining Rio Hondo League teams.
However, Mesa refuses to accept that his schedule is getting any easier.
“I won’t accept that,” he said. “We will respect every opponent. I don’t want to make this a message that gets sent out the wrong way. We have played tough teams, and we’re planning on playing more tough teams moving forward. Those tough teams have helped us for the opponents ahead. We will be ready for those tough teams.”
Without Pasadena Blair in the mix, the Rio Hondo League has only two guaranteed CIF Southern Section playoff berths. The Titans will have to defeat South Pasadena, La Cañada and Temple City to battle for second place.
“We’re in playoff mode,” Mesa said. “It’s win or go home. That’s what I told them. We hope to get at least second place.”