SPHS Tigers Roll in Season Opener

Coaches huddle with South Pasadena High players before their 53-13 season-opening victory over Mountain View in El Monte on Friday night. Photos by Anthony Jackson

South Pasadena’s high-school football season began with a great big roar Friday night.

The Tigers trounced Mountain View 53-13 in El Monte, as the offense showed its skill-position versatility and power, with five different players scoring touchdowns.

“It feels great,” coach Jeff Chi said after the romp.

Senior running back Ivan Estrada and junior wideout Terrence Sweetman led the way, combining for 313 yards. Estrada totaled 199 yards with one rushing touchdown – the Tigers’ first TD of the game — and another TD on a kickoff return.

Sweetman totaled 114 offensive yards (74 rushing, 40 receiving) and scored three touchdowns – two receiving and one on a punt return.

“It feels just like last year,’’ said Estrada. “I had four last year in this game against them, today I had two, with a kick return.

“I just saw an open hole, the blocks were there, the sideline was open. If the hole is open inside, I’m trying to cut it out.”

On his final season-opener as a Tiger, Estrada added, “It feels great. Just have to see if we can keep the momentum up and see if we can go 10-0 and win league… that’s the goal.”

Also scoring touchdowns were Quentin Pithey (on a run), Jonathan Stride (on a pass from Samuel Luna-Long) and Grant Huntley (also on a pass from Luna-Long).

Star quarterback Samuel Luna-Long. Photos by Anthony Jackson

With the Tigers leading 34-7 at halftime, Chi decided to sit Luna-Long, who threw for 137 yards and three touchdowns.

“We just wanted to rest him up, because he had a little tender groin,” Chi said. “But it’s nothing extreme, we just wanted to take the cautious side of it.”

Overall, Chi was thrilled with the team’s performance.

“We just went to our skill guys,’’ he said. “We knew what they were capable of doing. Just spread it out and let’s see if our skill guys can outrun their defense.”

The Tigers went 3-7 last year. Luna-Long said this win was a great way to turn the page on those struggles.

“It’s a great way to start a new season,” the senior said.

Luna-Long also said conditioning was a big factor Friday night.

“Definitely more conditioning,’’ he said. “We were running more this year than last year. I don’t think anyone was tired during this game at all.”

The Tigers play their home opener next week Friday against Viewpoint High at 7 p.m.

“We’re just going to take it one game at a time,’’ Chi said. “If they work hard and do their assignment, wins will come with it.”

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