First the good news: San Marino High School’s varsity football team last Friday evening defeated Bell Gardens by a final score of 41-29 and improved to 4-1.
Sadly, the “bad news” is just about everything else, as the Titans lost three and possibly four more players to injury as they head towards what might be their toughest task of the season, this Friday’s matchup with Newport Harbor.
“I have never seen anything like it,” head Coach Mike Hobbie said of the win, which—on the field immediately after the contest—felt much more like a loss given the number of newly injured players. “This is the most expensive win I have ever experienced. I have never been through anything like this as a coach. Maybe this is all one big make-up.”
Hobbie pointed—literally—to the new artificial turf playing surface at Bell Gardens as a possible culprit, using his index finger to measure a thin layer of padding below the simulated grass. All night long, Titan players slipped and fell, mostly when pursuing Lancer offensive players. By the end of the game, many of San Marino’s players had abandoned their traditional football shoes for sneakers. Hobbie had encouraged the team to bring alternate footwear after a similar experience on that field two years ago.
Senior quarterback and middle linebacker Kade Wentz suffered a shoulder injury in the fourth quarter, senior center Tommy Long injured a knee and defensive back Keaton Heimerl also has a bum shoulder after last Friday’s contest. All three will probably miss this Friday’s game and wide receiver Jake Leftwich is also dinged up.
The Titans entered the game without the services of two-way starter Wheeler Smith, tailback Beau Hobbie and defensive back Steven Barraza. It is still unclear if any of those three will be available this Friday night and if they are not, the loss will represent a huge vacuum in Coach Hobbie’s quiver as Beau Hobbie, Wentz and Smith have scored 19 of San Marino’s 27 touchdowns this season. Barraza and Wentz are 1-2 on the Titans’ depth chart for punters and all have substantial responsibilities on both defense and special teams.
“We are just out of people,” Mike Hobbie told The Tribune. “It’s as simple as that.”
If last Friday’s was Wentz’s final gameas a Titan, he sure went out in style. As quarterback, Wentz rushed 24 times for 173 yards and a touchdown and threw for 182 yards and four more scores. As middle linebacker, he made a boatload of tackles and sacked and intercepted Bell Gardens’ quarterback Agustin Velasquez, Jr.
“With so many of our big-play guys out, someone had to pick up the slack and that someone is named Kade Wentz,” Hobbie added. “You could see that he said ‘I’m going to win this game.’ He played a phenomenal game.”
Hobbie also lauded Leftwich and fellow seniors Jackson Wendling and Sean Richardson for solid games. Richardson scored three touchdowns and Leftwich finished the game with three catches for 91 yards and an electrifying 63-yard touchdown reception.
Defensively the Titans were paced by Wentz, fellow linebacker Chris Wicke and defensive linemen Beau Perez and Charlie Daves.
Excepting maybe the annual Rio Hondo League title matchup with Monrovia, San Marino’s multitude of injuries could not have come at a worse time as mighty Newport Harbor comes calling this Friday evening.
“Pray for a miracle,” Hobbie said when asked what the Titans need to do to beat the Sailors. “I don’t even know who is playing for us yet. I had high hopes for this season until last Friday night.”
Jayvees Unleash Air Attack on Bell Gardens
Sophomore Charlie Sutherland threw touchdown passes to classmates Trond Grizzell and Henry Vitan and San Marino’s defense came up big when it had to as the Titan junior varsity shut out visiting Bell Gardens last Thursday afternoon by a score of 20-0.
Sutherland connected with Grizzell on passes of 20 and 40 yards while Vitan nabbed a 15-yarder as the Titans improved to 4-1.
Sam Feffer had three takeaways for San Marino’s defense and also filled in with aplomb at tailback. Coach Carl Schmitz praised linebacker Sam Fu for a solid effort.
Nick Derrick and Seth Canul were also key in foiling the Lancers’ ground game.
San Marino heads to Newport Harbor on Thursday, Sept. 20 for a 3:30p.m. contest.
– Mitch Lehman
Frosh Top Lancers
Mavridis Breaks Through to Lead San Marino
A preview of Wentz’s performance came a day earlier as San Marino High School freshman quarterback Nico Mavridis scored a touchdown and passed for two more as the Titans defeated Bell Gardens by a final score of 20-7.
Mavridis threw a 60-yard touchdown to Cameron Richardson, a 50-yarder to Michael Prappas and found paydirt in the 4th quarter on a 7-yard sweep to cap the scoring.
Channeling his inner Wentz, Mavridis also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble on defense. Prappas also picked off a Lancer pass, Ryan Qu had a fumble recovery, Brendan Wu played well on both sides of the line of scrimmage and James Aguilar put forth a solid effort at linebacker.
Head freshman Coach Matt Wilson also lauded the efforts of Owen Grannis.
“Owen showed great leadership on the offensive line and helped get our guys lined up properly when we had to go to our bench,” Wilson said.
The frosh are now 2-2 and host Newport Harbor at 3:30p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 20.
– Mitch Lehman