First published in the Oct. 22 print issue of the South Pasadena Review. By Nathan Cambridge
Two games into Rio Hondo League play, the South Pasadena High School football team was tied atop the standings and up next was Pasadena Poly. Poly is new to the league and, judging by the results against the Tigers, the Panthers have not bitten off more than they can chew.
“We wanted to come out and beat [South Pasadena] so we can make CIF and show ourselves as a competitor in this new league,” Panther Jason Mayo said.
Pasadena Poly made quite an impression in the first-ever Rio Hondo League matchup between the schools, taming the Tiger offense until the very end for a 28-8 win Friday night on Ray Solari Field.
“We’re a team that can compete in this league. We’ve shown ourselves,” Mayo, a senior, said.
Pasadena Poly (4-3 overall record, 2-1 in league) held the host Tigers to 42 total yards and zero passing yards in the first two quarters, after which the visitors had a 21-0 advantage.
“We started off the game with penalties and mistakes and kind of got rolled over a bit, and we just never recovered,” South Pasadena coach Jeff Chi said.
After the Panthers’ first drive came up empty, Poly scored on its next three possessions. The catalyst was Mayo, who had three catches for a game-high 128 yards and two touchdowns, all coming in the second quarter.
South Pasadena (4-4 overall, 2-1 league) saw its first drive end with a fumble recovered by Poly’s Derek Foker at the Tigers’ 11-yard line. Soon after, Poly signal caller Colin Mathews scored on a 1-yard quarterback keeper.
Following a South Pasadena punt, the next Panther drive covered 91 yards, finished with an 65-yard passing touchdown from Mathews to Mayo.
The Tigers’ third drive netted minus-12 total yards before a punt. The ensuing Poly drive covered 56 yards for another Mayo touchdown. This time Mathews hit the senior on a crossing route, after which Mayo turned up the left sideline and did the rest for a 37-yard score.
In the third quarter, South Pasadena’s Aiden Kinney intercepted a Mathews pass. The ensuing Tiger drive included their first pass completions of the night by quarterback Noah Aragon: a 14-yard completion to Quinn Stirling and a 22-yard hookup with Sage Wayans. The hosts drove within 6 yards of pay dirt, but a sack by Panther Griffin Unanue on fourth down ended the threat.
Sterling finished with a game-high four grabs for 41 yards.
Mathews threw a fourth-quarter pass on play action for a 58-yard touchdown to Nicolas Cardenas, who finished with 72 yards on two catches, for a 28-0 lead.
South Pasadena scored in the final minute on an impressive 92-yard drive orchestrated by backup quarterback Jackson Freking against the Panther reserves. It ended with an 8-yard rushing touchdown on fourth down by Alexander Gonzalez.
The Tigers were led in rushing by Jack Riffle, who had 45 yards on 12 carries.