The South Pasadena varsity football Tigers are coming off back-to-back losses in league play to San Marino and Monrovia (the latter a 49-7 rout), but they’re looking to turn things around in the final two games of the season — with an eye on still making the playoffs.
The Tigers (5-3 overall) are facing their obstacles head on in the next two weeks as they travel to Temple City on Friday, then return home to face La Cañada. It will be an uphill battle in the Rio Hondo League as the Tigers sit in fourth place, below first-place Monrovia, second-place San Marino and third-place La Cañada.
The Tigers’ next opponent, Temple City, is in last place with a 2-4 overall record and an 0-2 league mark, just like South Pas — and just like the Tigers, Monrovia scored seven touchdowns on Temple City two weeks ago.
Temple City’s Rams use a run-heavy offense and have a mobile quarterback in Alex Vera — but Vera has thrown 11 interceptions in the six games he has played, so the Tigers would seem capable of forcing him into mistakes if they play solid defense.
Tiger head coach Jeff Chi has been working hard with his players to make sure they are all ready for Friday’s game. He said Temple City has some weaknesses the Tigers are hoping to exploit, and that the team wants to have a physical battle on both sides of the ball.
“I know coming off of two losses puts a dark cloud over our heads … [but] we’ve had a pretty successful season up until this point,’’ Chi said.
“We just want to go back to the basics of what we did good prior to those two games. Everyone has responsibilities and duties that we have pointed out to them in what [Temple City] can hurt us with. Each of the [defensive] players have to step up and follow through.”
After Temple City, the Tigers will play a home game against La Cañada, which enters this week at 5-3 overall and 1-1 in league play. La Cañada beat Temple City three weeks ago but lost to San Marino last week by 35 points.
La Cañada is facing Monrovia on Friday and can set up a thrilling finish to the season if South Pas wins and La Cañada loses.
The Spartans have given up six touchdowns in the last two games, and the game against Monrovia figures to provide more of the same.
“La Cañada beat Temple City and that was a high-scoring game. Neither team seemed like they have a strong defensive side, so that gives us hope,’’ Chi said.
“But right now, we’re just focusing on Temple City and just making sure we’re taking care of business, because this is a must-win for us to qualify for playoff seeding. We just want to make sure we beat Temple City and then focus on La Cañada once [Friday’s] game is over.’’
These next two games are must-win games for the Tigers because in a five-team league, only the top two spots have a guaranteed place in the postseason. The third-place team has to fight for an at-large spot against other teams in the division.
Chi thinks the team’s overall record should be strong enough to give the Tigers a spot if they need it.
Friday’s game at Temple City and next week’s home game against La Cañada are both scheduled for 7 p.m.