The San Marino High School football team was finally able to celebrate a victory last week as the Titans shut out visiting Bell Gardens, 12-0, in a nonleague game.
“I don’t know if I feel any different, but I do feel happy for the kids,” said first-year head coach Justin Mesa, who was showered with Gatorade by a few of his players after the victory. “The kids were under a lot of pressure, especially with the success in the past and even last year. What’s cool is that there are expectations to win here. Some of the starters felt that pressure. Hopefully, now that we got that monkey off our back we can continue to develop as a team and move forward.”
The one player cool under pressure was second string quarterback Niko Mavridis, who started the game for an injured Connor Short. The sophomore delivered with two touchdowns, which was more than enough for San Marino’s defense.
Mavridis put the Titans on the board late in the first quarter with a shovel pass to Michael Prappas, who ran 19 yards into the end zone.
The home team extended its lead early in the second quarter when Mavridis launched a 24-yard pass into the end zone toward the direction of Trond Grizzell, who hauled in the pass despite good coverage from the Lancers.
Mesa credits the win to his players buying into the new game plan.
“That was part of our success,” he said. “We bought into what we wanted to do on offense and defense. I’m just so happy most of the kids did it, and now we can focus on what we need to fix and get better.”
Bell Gardens (1-4 overall record) struggled to move the football and was limited to only 27 yards passing. Arthur Sanchez ran for 62 yards but was not consistent, and San Marino’s defense recorded its first shutout of the season.
“We had not really discussed a shutout as a goal, but we’ll take it,” Mesa said. “If that will get them going and excited to talk about with their friends, then I’m glad we did it. These kids work hard. Going 0-4 in beginning, they may lose some confidence. To get a shutout and get some recognition is good.”
San Marino (1-4 overall) will travel to Newport Beach to take on Newport Harbor in a nonleague game this Friday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m.
“That will be a good opportunity for us,” Mesa said. “For us to have a legit chance against a good program is good for us. We got confidence in our guys, and we look at this as a winnable game. We just go and execute.”
Correction: In the Sept. 19 issue, a player photographed was misidentified. Cole Giles is No. 64 paving the way for the San Marino running backs.