SPHS Wins Nail-Biter Over La Cañada, 23-22

First published in the Oct. 15 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

South Pasadena High School junior Aidan Kinney’s kicked an 18-yard field goal with 1:33 to play in the fourth quarter to lift the Tigers’ varsity football team to a thrilling come-from-behind victory against visiting La Cañada, 23-22, last Thursday evening.
The win lifted the Tigers’ record to 2-0 in Rio Hondo League play (4-3 overall). Meanwhile, the Spartans fell to 0-2 in league (4-3 overall).

Photo by Sebastian Moore / The Review
South Pasadena High School’s Jaden Castellon (44) and Quinn Stirling (13) prepare to tackle La Cañada ball-carrier Brandon Shepherd (22). SPHS players Sawyer Fox (21) and Dylan Feak (74) secure the left route while Isaiah Cooper (77) takes down an opponent.

In addition to kicking the game-winning field goal, Kinney was successful on both of his PAT conversion kicks and also recorded six total tackles on defense.
“[Kinney] came in like it’s no big deal to him; he looked like a veteran kicker out there. He nailed it, cold as ice, and we’re very proud of that,” said Jeff Chi, South Pasadena’s head coach. “He literally won the game for us.”
The game was tied, 14-14, to start the action-packed fourth quarter. La Cañada’s Brandon Shepherd intercepted South Pasadena’s senior quarterback Noah Aragon’s throw for a 27-yard return and was tackled on the Tigers 33-yard line with 11:50 to play. Two runs by La Cañada junior Corey Cheung resulted in the Spartans’ third touchdown, and Cheung successfully converted a two-point conversion for a 22-14 Spartan lead.
After recovering a fumble earlier in the fourth quarter, La Cañada attempted a field goal, which South Pasadena successfully blocked. Tigers’ senior Jack Riffle returned the block to La Cañada’s 10-yard line, setting up a touchdown pass from Aragon to teammate junior Nick Eshom with 6:38 to play. However, South Pasadena failed to convert a two-point try and remained behind 22-20, helping set the stage for Kinney’s deciding field goal.
Aragon completed 10 of 18 passes for 98 yards and added four carries for 21 yards and a rushing touchdown.
Eshom added three receptions for 21 yards.
South Pasadena was ahead, 14-6, at halftime. With 58 seconds left in the third, after holding South Pasadena scoreless, Cheung ran in a 14-yard touchdown and added a two-point conversion to tie the game, 14-14, setting the stage for a thrilling fourth quarter.
Touchdowns by South Pasadena’s Alexander Gonzalez and Aragon in the first two quarters accounted for the rest of South Pasadena’s scoring.
South Pasadena’s defense had its eyes set on La Cañada’s quarterback. The Tigers recorded five sacks, two by senior Sage Wayans and one from senior Alex Gonzalez, sophomore Sawyer Fox and freshman James Dowd.
Tigers senior Jaden Castellon recorded a team-high 11 total tackles while Gonzalez and junior Quinn Stirling both added nine. Wayans and junior Richard Conti tallied four each.