If you think San Marino High School head football coach Mike Hobbie had already moved on from last Friday night’s CIF Division 6 quarterfinal playoff loss to top-seeded Bishop Diego, think again. A key formation the Titans had been unable to stop 64 hours earlier was sketched on a white board above Hobbie’s office desk and his laptop dispensed the familiar gray-green images of football footage, which he constantly wound back to the beginning of each segment.
“Yeah, it still bothers me,” Hobbie said, closer on Monday morning to being the Titan baseball coach than football mentor.
Hobbie was referring to San Marino’s painful 59-21 loss to the Cardinals, who pulled away from San Marino at Santa Barbara City College to qualify for the semifinals. Trailing 31-0 at halftime, the Titans scored three touchdowns in the third quarter, but Bishop Diego always had an answer and even qualified for the dreaded running clock in the fourth quarter.
“It definitely wasn’t one of our better games,” Hobbie said. “I don’t want to take anything away from the quality of their team, but they were not that much better than us than the score indicated. We simply made too many errors.”
Most of which were game-changers, as the Cardinals picked off two first-half passes, returning one for a touchdown and another inside the five yard line.
“Granted, their defense lent itself toward us making errors because they made it difficult for us to tell who we should block,” Hobbie said. “Consequently, a lot of our decisions were off the mark.”
Titan quarterback Blake Cabot enjoyed one of his best statistical passing games of the season, completing 14 of 24 offerings for 263 yards and a 67-yard touchdown to Jacob Leftwich. But the three interceptions each led to points for the hosts.
Where San Marino struggled was in their typically deadly ground game, where Cabot was limited to 56 yards on 17 carries, though two touchdowns. Junior Beau Hobbie was bottled up by the Cardinals’ rangy defense, and gained only 34 yards on 14 attempts, both season lows.
Junior Sean Richardson caught six passes for 99 yards, senior John Hutchison nabbed three for 29 yards and senior Dereck Gerhardt added two for 29 yards. Leftwich ended the evening with two receptions for 99 yards.
Defensively, middle linebacker Kade Wentz led the way with 8 tackles, followed by Chris Wicke (7), and middle linebacker Jack Hornberger, who ended the evening and his career with five.
But it was a bridge too far for the Titans, who ended the season with an 8-3 overall record after finishing second in the Rio Hondo League with a 3-1 mark.
“This game is not inflictive of our season,” Hobbie said. “This is just not the way I envisioned us ending the season, with a subpar performance. It would have been very difficult to beat them, but we could have made it a much closer game. But I will say they were strong at every position.”
Hobbie saluted Richardson and Hutchison for “catching everything that went their way.”
“Defensively, I felt that our line did a good job against the run, but we couldn’t get any pressure on their quarterback. We did not expect them to throw as often as they did, but after the first series, they obviously determined that we were keyed on stopping the run. And once again, we were hurt by tall receivers.”
Hobbie also praised Nigel Landon, who was pressed into service at offensive tackle just two days before the game when starter Darren Li went down with a knee injury.
“He stepped in during the very last padded practice and he did a good job,” the coach said. “I asked him to play hard and he did. He did his job. I admire Nigel for that.”
Hobbie said it was “an excellent season for this team.”
“I am very proud of how far they came and their accomplishments,” he continued. “I am always shooting for perfection and never truly satisfied, but I think this senior class has some great memories to take with them regarding their achievements at this high school. And that is my objective. That they are treated fairly and have fond memories.”