Pasadena and San Marino High Schools are a mere 3.3 miles apart, according to a quick search on the web, but the Titans put a lot of distance between themselves and the Bulldogs last Friday night in winning the season-opener for both teams by a final score of 42-7.
Surprisingly, it was the first varsity football game ever contested between the two schools and maybe even more surprisingly, it went San Marino’s way from the very start. Runs by quarterback Kade Wentz and tailback Beau Hobbie put the Titans within scoring range and caused Bulldogs’ Coach Dejuan Shamburger, Sr. to call a time out less than two minutes into the game.
It didn’t work, as Hobbie scampered the final four yards into the end zone and Jordan Evans’ extra point gave San Marino a 7-0 lead with 9:34 left in the opening stanza.
Two possessions later, the Titans were back at work, and Hobbie provided nothing short of a masterpiece. His swerving, zig-zagging 27-yard run left half the ‘Dog’s defense grasping at air while providing the hosts with a 14-0 advantage.
Pasadena began figuring things out on offense, but a 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide to the right with five minutes left in the first half. San Marino made the Bulldogs pay as Hobbie did most of the damage on the ensuing drive. A facemask penalty against Pasadena advanced the ball into the red zone and Hobbie polished it off from three yards out to give the Titans a 21-0 lead at halftime.
But the Bulldogs showed their mettle early in the third quarter, when freshman running back Mekhi Fox picked the ball up off the turf after a botched exchange, reversed his field and beat San Marino’s secondary to the goal line for a 50-yard touchdown to make the score 21-7 less than three minutes into the third.
It took less than two minutes for the Titans to answer. Senior Sean Richardson dealt the first card with a solid kickoff return and Wentz trumped the hand with a 29-yard touchdown run to restore order at 28-7.
Wentz delivered a three-yard touchdown strike to senior Jackson Wendling to make it 35-7 with 3:05 remaining in the third quarter and found senior Wheeler Smith behind the Bulldog defense for a 73-yard catch-and-carry that capped the scoring at 42-7.
The touchdown brought with it the running clock and before you knew it, San Marino was one and oh after backup quarterback Connor Short took two knees deep in enemy territory.
Beau Hobbie ended the night with 158 rushing yards on 14 carries, while Wentz picked up an additional 98 yards on 17 attempts. Juniors Neven Yarahmadi (40 yards on four carries) and Short (two rushes for 24 yards) played well in mop-up time. Wentz completed six of nine passes for 107 yards and the two scores. Aside from Smith and Wendling, Richardson caught two passes for 15 yards.
A rare two-way player who lines up at quarterback, Wentz also made six tackles from his middle linebacker spot and sacked PHS signal-caller Andreas Selling for a ten yard loss. Senior Chris Wicke made eight tackles and linebacker Seth Matzumoto was credited with nine. Junior defensive tackle Kourosh Hassibi added seven stops and defensive backs Smith, Keaton Heimerl and Steven Barraza made four apiece. Yarahmadi intercepted a pass to squelch a late Bulldog drive and also added two tackles for the Titans. Evans was successful on all six extra points.
“Our defense played well considering the talent they have,” said head Coach Mike Hobbie, grandfather to the elusive running back, Beau. “We gave up one deep pass but ended up stopping them on that drive, so it didn’t hurt us. We were assignment-sound for the most part and overall, I am very pleased.”
Although the Titans put 42 points on the board, the offensive guru, not surprisingly, saw much room for improvement.
“We did a fair job,” Hobbie said. “We made it difficult for [Pasadena] to guess what we were doing.”
The eighth-year coach praised Wicke for a solid game at linebacker.
“Chris had a very good game,” Hobbie said. He also singled out Heimerl and Hassibi, who is returning from a year away from football.
“Kourosh is a difference-maker who we have needed at that position,” said Hobbie. “Our defensive line did a good job on the pass rush, considering they were out-sized.”
Wentz got high marks for a solid game, his first varsity start at quarterback.
“Kade played extremely well,” Hobbie said. “Almost every running play we have is an option where he has to make a split-second decision as whether to keep the ball or hand it off. He was almost perfect on his decision-making. And that was a great throw to Wheeler. I also thought Beau ran well. He made some people miss.”
The Titans will need much more of the above on Friday when the Northview Vikings come calling for a matchup that has the elder Hobbie working overtime. Northview defeated El Rancho last Friday night by a final score of 48-14 and did so in convincing fashion.
“This could be the toughest test that we have in the preseason,” Hobbie said. “In fact, this is going to be more than a test. It will be a big challenge. They have speed on the outside and size and strength on the inside. If we make any mistakes we are going to pay for them. Their offensive and defensive linemen are big and strong and they have two guys who can make you look bad.”
The “two guys” to whom Hobbie refers are junior wide receiver Damion Thompson, who will don #1, and Deshon Thompson, a sophomore wide receiver who suits up in #5.
“They are very fast,” Hobbie said. “Northview is a playoff caliber team and we will definitely have our hands full.”