The Tigers football team gets its first taste of competitive action Friday night as they go up against Mountain View (El Monte) for their first game of the season. It’s the Tigers first home game as well. Photo by Henk Friezer

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.”

Head coach Jeff Chi surrounds himself with a top-notch team of assistant coaches.

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.

The South Pasadena High School varsity football team is ready to take on all comers. This team believes that hard work goes hand-in-hand with winning. And the varsityTigers have been putting in the hours that will produce those victories.They’re ready to defy all expectations. Photos by Henk Friezer

“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.

Practice makes perfect and the Tigers have been running drills all week getting ready.

“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

Staff

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

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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