South Pasadena’s varsity Tiger football team is ready to defy all expectations this year. Although preseason ranking puts the team at 4th in the standings and out of the playoffs, Coach Jeff Chi is cautiously optimistic that his team will fare much better.
“We have to be hopeful that we can do better than expected, but this time, it’s more than hope,” Chi said recently as he placed Tiger decals on individual helmets before practice. “I think if we can get the ball into the hands of our strongest players, I think we can do all right. We are a tough bunch of guys.”
Chi acknowledged the Rio Hondo League, where they finished in fourth place last year and out of the playoffs, presents a difficult challenge.
“This is a tough league,” Chi said. “You have Monrovia and San Marino that are always great. Really great. But we do the best we can, and as I said, we are a tough group.”
One of those tough players is senior middle linebacker/running back Logan Svihovec-McCarty, who is the defensive captain.
“He’s one of our toughest players and he does a great job for us,” Chi said. “I am very pleased with his performance.”
Svihovec-McCarty said he is ready for the challenge and looking forward to the first preseason game against Mountain View (El Monte) at home Friday night. McCarty’s job is to call the defensive schemes during the game.
Chi prides himself on developing a balanced offense that features a strong ground attack but is complemented by an equally effective passing game.
“You have to have balance,” he said. “If all you have is a ground attack, the defense can put 7, 8 guys up front in the box and shut you down. You have to be able to throw the ball.”
That challenge falls to Samuel Luna-Long, a junior. Luna-Long, the son of SPHS Athletic Director Greg Luna, is starting at quarterback against Mountain View.
“He’s done a really good job for us so far,” Chi said. “This is our first game and we will see if he can get the ball into the hands of our receivers. If we can get the ball into the hands of the right people, we will do fine.” Returning starting quarterback and senior Justin Huff will not start the first game, Chi said, but will be ready for the second game.
Meanwhile, Mountain View presents a tough, physical contest for the Tigers. Chi, his coaches and the team have been studying the film and know they present a strong double-wing running game.
“They are strong and very physical,” Chi said. “We will see what happens.”
As Chi approaches his second year as head coach – Chi has been involved with So Pas High School football one way or another since 1988 – his idea of a successful season has changed a bit down through the years.
“It used to be all about wins and losses but that has changed,” he said. “I just want them to respect each other and play as a team. You know, I treat these kids as if they were my own and that sometimes is not fun. Most times it is fun but sometimes you have to guide them as well as support them.”
The payoff is down the road when former students come back to visit bearing a successful aura about them.
“They come back maybe five, 10 years later and they are leading a successful life, happy and productive,” Chi said. “That is success.”
Varsity Football Roster
2 Robert Echeverria WR, CB Jr., 5-6 137
5 Justin Huff QB, K Sr. 5-10 210
7 Samuel Luna-Long QB, LB Jr. 5-10 175
8 Wyatt Osburn TE, DE Sr. 5-10 195
11 Logan Svihovec-McCarty RB, LB Sr. 5-11 190
15 Jaden Gallego WR, LB Sr. 6-1 170
18 Savian Joseph-Westmoreland WR, DB Sr. 5-6 155
20 Ivan Estrada WR, DB Jr. 5-7 145
21 Ruben Echeverria RB, DB Sr. 5-7
22 Ethan Hong DB, RB Jr. 5-10 185
25 Aidan Adams DB, WR Sr. 5-11145
31 Kristoff Tessler RB, DB Sr. 5-10 155
32 Jonathan Martinez LB, RB Sr. 5-9 145
33 Jacob De la Rosa LB, Wr Sr. 509 170
34 Quentin Pithey RB, LB Jr. 5-9 195
41 Jacob Barnes LB, RB Sr. 5-3 150
44 Raymond Gomez RB, LB Jr. 5-7 145
48 Valentino Nguyen LS So. 5-8
52 Dillon Bullock, OL, DL Sr. 5-6 186
53 Justin Carrillo, OL, DL Sr. 5-8 196
54 Marion Rosales OL. Dl Sr. 5-6 195
55 Jared Lachica OL. DL Jr.5-7 205
56 Nathaniel Quirk, OL, DL Sr. 5-11 195
58 Daniel Garcia Villavicencio G, DE Jr. 5-9 170
59 Nathan Pineda, OL, DL Sr. 5-10 220
61 Dominic Donnelly, OL, DL Sr. 5-10 190
61 Andre Johnson OL, DL Jr. 5-11 200
62 Garrett Washburn OL, DL, Jr. 5-10 230
65 Finn Hunter OL, DL Jr. 5-10 210
71 Julian Cabrera DE, G Jr. 5-10 170
75 Kai Arakawa OL, Dl Sr. 5-8 280
77 Cole Stadler OL, Dl Jr. 5-10 215
79 Jove Yates OL, Dl Sr. 6-4
84 Jordan Bounyaseng WR, DB Sr. 5-10 150
Johnny Xiao LB, WR Sr. 507 150
Jeff Chi, Head Coach
John Morant, Assistant Coach
Paul Hugasian, Assistant Coach
Brandon Wilson, Assistant Coach
Richard Kim, Assistant Coach
Varsity Football Game Schedule
Friday, August 17 Mountain View
Friday, August 24 @ El Monte
Friday, August 31 Eastside
Friday, September 7 @ Arroyo (El Monte, Ca)
Friday, September 14 Alhambra
Friday, September 21 @ Eagle Rock
Friday, September 28 @San Marino
Friday, October 5 Monrovia
Friday, October 12 Temple City
Friday, October 19 @ La Cañada