It sounds like a tough sell, but anyone who has personally witnessed both of San Marino High School’s varsity football games here in the 2019 season would have to say that the Titans were significantly improved in Friday night’s 42-7 loss to Northview, despite a score that was much similar to last week’s defeat at the hands of Charter Oak. The host Vikings featured a lethal combination of size, speed, experience and athleticism, and all four of those facets—augmented by the presence of a veteran quarterback—doomed San Marino at brand spanking new Covina-Valley Regional Stadium.
The Vikings scored on their first drive of the evening, but San Marino roared back. A 42-yard run by quarterback Connor Short on 3rd and long moved the ball across midfield. On 4th and 2, Short connected with wide receiver Trond Grizzell, placing the ball on the Viking two. Matthew Karapetyan did the honors from there and Jordan Evans’ extra point knotted the score at 7 apiece with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
But that was as close as San Marino got as Northview scored the next 35 points, improving to 2-0 while the Titans dropped to the mirror of that mark. Short picked up 75 yards on his eight carries and Karapetyan rushed for 40 yards on 17 attempts to lead San Marino’s ground attack. Short was 6-for-11 through the air for 127 yards with Grizzell nabbing two for 43 yards. Senior Neven Yaramahdi caught two for 46 yards and junior Jeffrey Conzonire made a 28-yard reception, but suffered a hip injury on the play and didn’t return.
Linebacker Seth Matzumoto paced San Marino’s defense with 19 tackles and junior Nick Derrick pitched in with 12. And while Justin Mesa failed to get that elusive first win, the new head coach was pleased with the effort.
The Titans were neck-and-neck with Northview until the closing seconds of the first half, when the Vikings scored a fluke touchdown heading into the locker room. Northview scored on its first possession of the second half to take a 28-7 lead and most of the wind out of the Titans’ sails.
“I thought that coming out of the gate we played tough defense,” Mesa told The Tribune. “We really did a good job against the run, but I thought we also did that against Charter Oak. I thought we were pretty solid defensively. They were double-teaming Kourosh [Hassibi] and I felt that took us out of our comfort zone. Offensively, I thought we ran the ball a little better this week. Through the air, we would like to get the ball to Trond as often as possible, but they put their best guy on him and that made it difficult.”
Though the score was sadly similar to Week 1’s 42-3 loss at Charter Oak, Mesa thought his squad put up a better battle.
“I felt we fought hard for the most part,” he said. “We had the energy, the intent and the focus. It was clearly an improvement.”
Mesa saved special mention for Yaramahdi, who rarely left the field of play on Friday.
“He is in there almost every down,” Mesa exclaimed. “He plays hard and he is very scrappy. It is good to have Neven as one of our captains. We were down 21-7 at the half and he was working on the guys to get them motivated. In the first two games he has emerged as a leader. He was voted a captain by his peers, but his actions have confirmed that selection.”
The Titans host El Monte this Friday evening and while many feel San Marino has already faced its two toughest opponents, the Lions are certainly no slouch. Tailback Davon Booth is for some reason listed twice on El Monte’s roster and the Titan defense will certainly think they are seeing double once the opening kickoff soars through the sky.
“In the first two games they have scored at will,” said Mesa of the Lions’ 63-7 win over Sotomayor and 78-36 conquering of Glenn. “They run the double wing and try to push you around. [Booth] is very dynamic and shifty with a great ability to make people miss. They present a unique challenge.”
Mesa said the Titans “are in for a ballgame. There is little drop-off in athleticism. We will need to play tough on defense and execute on offense.”
Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. at Titan Stadium.