If last season is a benchmark of excellence, then the South Pasadena High School freshmen/sophomore football team has a high standard to reach.
Last year’s team, entirely comprised of ninth and 10th graders and known as the frosh/soph team, went undefeated. That’s right, they went 10-0.
“We weren’t expecting to be 10 and 0 but the kids really worked hard,” said Head Coach Edward Smith. “The games at this level are about preparation. We are trying to get them ready for the next level, for varsity. But last year’s team was good.”
Although many of the players on that undefeated team are no longer in school or available to play this year, 10 are returning to play.
“We have 10 freshmen from last year returning this year and the thing is, the guys that are coming back have some experience to play at this level,” said Smith, who has been coaching Tiger football in one capacity or another since 1979. “I’m expecting a lot out of these guys and some of them will go both ways and we’ll build around those guys like we did last year.”
Smith, who was the Tiger varsity football coach for 16 years, acknowledged that it’s hard to gauge the talent of the team at this juncture.
“You can’t tell,” Smith said. “We have not had a scrimmage yet. You don’t know how the kids are going to react to live-hitting firsthand. So, hopefully, we will be able to prepare them over the next couple of days and get them ready for Mountain View.”
Although Smith is not sure of his team’s abilities, he suspects his running attack will be solid with an added dimension.
“We have some decent runners,” he said. “We will probably concentrate on the running game, but we also have a couple of freshmen who seem to be pretty good at catching the ball. We will see how it goes.”
Looking down the road, past the first game, Smith has altered his perception a bit as to what constitutes a successful season. He used to judge his success by wins and losses. He doesn’t do that anymore. He looks at the players to see if they are learning how to play the game of football.
“I know people think of wins and losses but at this level here what I try do is just prepare them on how to play football,” Smith said. “So, if they can improve football-wise that’s a success for us.”
Moreover, Smith wants his players to learn how to play the game as a member of a team that can lead to a better life.
“We try to make sure the kids are prepared to do certain things, like be on time, be responsible for what you do and be responsible to others. That’s what we try to instill in our guys. Now, if we win games. That’s a bonus for us.”
Well, if this year is anything like last year, it will be full of bonuses.
Frosh/Soph Football Roster
1 Jonathan Choi TE,DE So. 5-10 150
4 Devin Pearson WR, DB Fr. 5-8 150
6 Jonathan Stride WR, DB So. 5-4 110
7 Michael Ebner QB, TE Fr. 6-1 180
8 Grant Huntley QB, DB Fr. 5-10 145
11 Josh Cruzata RB, LB So. 5-8 175
15 Damien Romo RB, LB. So. 5-8 130
18 Zach Lukevsky WR, DB So. 5-6 120
22 Adrian Portillo WR, DB Fr. 5-7 115
48 Valentino Nguyen RB, LB So. 5-7 150
50 Noah Perez Ol, DL So. 5-8 135
55 Andrew Buenrostro OL, DL Fr. 5-11 175
56 Joey Duarte Ol, DL, So. 5-5 165
62 Jaden Castellon OL, DL Fr. 5-3 135
64 Noah Leider Ol, DL Fr. 6-2 215
68 Morgan Seche OL, DL Fr. 5-4 165
70 Joseph Hutchinson OL, DE So. 6-0 215
71 Luciano Tyler OL, DL Fr. 6-1 200
80 Terence Sweetman WR, DB So. 5-5 115
81 Owen Quimiro TE, LB So. 5-7 135
Bo Donlevy WR LB Fr.
Brian Zepada So. 5-6 145
Jack Riffle WR, LB Fr.
Joseph Carpentier OL, DL Fr.
London Ely RB, DB Fr.
Luca Berk Wr, DB Fr.
Patrick Cruz RB, LB Fr. 5-6 145
Yahya Abdur-Rahim FB, DL Fr. 5-8 200
Edward Smith, Head Coach
Jason Barnes, Assistant Coach
John Fonseca, Assistant Coach
Kevin Pearson, Assistant Coach
Frosh/Soph Football Game Schedule
Thursday, August 16 @ Mountain View
Thursday, August 23 El Monte
Thursday, August 30 @ Eastside
Thursday, September 6 @ Arroyo
Thursday, September 13 Alhambra
Thursday, September 20 @ Eagle Rock
Thursday, September 27 @ San Marino
Thursday, October 4 Monrovia
Thursday, October 11 Temple City
Thursday, October 25 @ La Cañada