Grid Kids Get Down to Business

Football season is more than a month away, but the South Pasadena High varsity got a jump on the action last week, working with coach Jeff Chi. The boys worked without pads, and the workout was non-contact, but all that will change as the team gets nearer its Aug. 23 opener. Photos by Henk Friezer

The full pads don’t come on for about another month. Right now, it’s non-contact practice — but full-out optimism — for the South Pasadena High football players.

Last week, coach Jeff Chi and his Tiger players began their long and sweaty summer journey to the Aug. 23 opener on the road against Mountain View in El Monte, followed by the home opener Aug. 30 against Viewpoint of Calabasas.

“It’s been a very positive energy, the kids are excited,’’ said Chi, whose Tigers went 3-7 overall last season, including 1-3 in the Rio Hondo League.

“We’re very pleased with what the kids have shown the past week.’’

The summer gridiron grind goes Monday through Thursday for the next three weeks, with weight-room training from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., followed by on-the-field practice till 7. Some 7-on-7 scrimmages with other schools are on schedule, too.

Then the hitting starts in earnest in early August.

“Last year didn’t go too well – we had some injury situations, some concussions, some key injuries to key players,’’ Chi said. “(In the past) we’ve have quality on the first string but have had a tough time finding replacement players.’’

This season, he said, will present more challenges, with a lot of fresh faces following last year’s senior-heavy squad.

But among the returning seniors, he said, will be quarterback Samuel Luna-Long, running back and linebacker Quentin Pithey, defensive back and wide receiver Ivan Estrada, offensive and defensive lineman Garrett Washburn and offensive lineman and linebacker Jared Lachica.

“Those are mainly the key guys that are coming back,’’ Chi said.

The players for whom 2019-20 could be a breakout year, he said, are wide receiver/defensive back Terrence Sweetman and running back/linebacker Joshua Cruzata, both juniors, and a couple of sophomores with big up sides — Grant Huntley, “probably a receiver and possibly backing up quarterback” and Noah Leider, an offensive lineman.

“Right now we’re just out there getting a lot of positive energy out of the kids,’’ Chi said. “We’re very excited about that.’’

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Kevin Kenney, comes to The Review from the New York Post, where he most recently was an editor and web producer. He had previously been deputy night sports editor of the paper. A native New Yorker who now lives in Burbank, Kenney has also worked for United Press International, Gannett Newspapers, The Bergen Record of New Jersey, Fox Sports, The Santa Clarita Signal and the Southern California News Group, publisher of the Los Angeles Daily News and Orange County Register, among other papers.