New head coach of the South Pasadena High School Football Team, Jeff Chi, knows what it will take for his Tigers to improve on the past two seasons. “There are a few things we haven’t overcome,” Chi said this week, “beating San Marino and Monrovia and getting out of the first round of playoffs.”
South Pasadena accumulated an impressive 15-5 record over the past two seasons under C.B. Richards, but during that time they also suffered big losses to Monrovia and San Marino, the two most dominant teams in the Rio Hondo League. After a 7-1 start to the 2016 season, the Tigers dropped their final three games, falling to the Wildcats and the Titans before ending the season with a 35-10 loss to Aquinas High School in San Bernardino in the CIF playoffs.
Entering his first summer as head coach, Chi has made increasing his players’ athleticism his number one priority. “My main focus right now is to improve our skill level, strength and conditioning. We want to make these guys complete athletes,” he said.
Chi, who also teaches math at the high school, played for the Tigers in the mid 80’s as a linebacker, running back and receiver. He has worked with the South Pasadena athletic program for around twenty-five years, helping the football program as a defensive coach and last season as an offensive coordinator.
The Tigers have pressing needs at their skill positions, where they have lost playmaking seniors at quarterback and running back. Jalen Ross, offensive and defensive threat, and quarterback Adam Arellano graduated, and their replacements are still competing for their positions. This, says Athletic Director Gregorio Luna, will be the biggest challenge for the team. “We’re very young at the skill positions, and no matter who it is, we will have a first year varsity quarterback starting,” said Luna, “that being said, we’re confident we can win every game on our schedule.”
The football season kicks off on August 8 at home against Rosemead. The Tigers beat the Panthers in an away game to kick off last season, 35-20.