San Marino High School varsity football coach Justen Mesa said his team was going to have to play in “playoff” mode in order to win out the remaining Rio Hondo League games on the schedule, and the Titans heeded his call as they executed on both sides of the football to defeat host rival South Pasadena, 10-7, last Friday.
“We actually did what we were supposed to do,” Mesa said. “When we wanted to throw it, our guy made a good read and our receiver caught the ball. Kudos to our offensive line for playing hard and executing. We were just hampered by penalties, but those extended our drives and helped us milk the clock.”
The Titans’ run-heavy offense led to a 32-yard field goal from Jordan Evans in the second quarter, and they took a two-possession lead in the third quarter when Nick Singhal ran 10 yards for a touchdown.
The Tigers responded immediately with a rushing touchdown from Ethan Hong, cutting the deficit to three points following the extra point.
The 10-7 advantage proved to be enough for San Marino (2-6 overall record, 1-1 in league), which staved off any late rallies from the home squad to come away with their first Rio Hondo League win of the season.
“This is our defense playing very good and our offense moving the ball,” Mesa said. “It’s just a glimpse of what we can do as a team. Our defense has been good all year, and it hasn’t gotten the credit for playing well. We’ve just struggled to move the ball and move down the field. We are doing good things defensively, and played decent games against Santa Fe and El Monte.”
The Titans claimed the Crowley Cup for a ninth consecutive season.
“We feel like the win came at a good time,” Mesa said. “They were a tough team. I think it’s really good for the community and for the kids to keep the streak going. I really downplayed it during the week, letting the boys know that these are playoff games for us. Not to take away anything from the rivalry, we just approached it that way.”
San Marino will return home this Friday, Oct. 18, to host La Cañada in a Rio Hondo League battle for second place.
“We always have to worry about what we do, but we are preparing for [the Spartans],” Mesa said. “They do whatever it is they do, and we’ll have a good plan to stop it. Hopefully we continue to execute.”
The showdown between the Titans and Spartans is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.