Orange High School’s Isacc Galvin returned the opening kick of last Friday night’s CIF Division 10 playoff game 76 yards for a touchdown and before the smoke had cleared, the Panthers had an 8-0 lead over the visiting Titans.
And by smoke, we mean, literally, as supporters of the host team brought a large caché of a noxious orange powder with them to Segerstrom High School—where the game was actually played—which they freely dispensed when Galvin crossed the goal line and on any other root-worthy occasion thereafter.
And, unfortunately for the road-weary Titans, there were plenty of them.
The Panthers led 35-0 before Titan quarterback Connor Short responded with an 8-yard run and Jordan Evans’ extra point, but it was always a bridge too far as Orange defeated the Titans 48-7 to end San Marino’s season.
“It was a tough one,” said Titan head Coach Justin Mesa. “No matter what, I don’t like to get beat 48-7, but I feel we weren’t prepared. They didn’t take their starters out in the second half, but they did enough in the first half to make it tough on us. Whether we were ever going to win the game or not, I am still a little disappointed.”
The Panthers only threw the ball twice all night but their quick, efficient offensive line and deceptive misdirection running attack did enough to send the Titans packing.
Short did his best to mount an offensive, completing 12 of 27 passes for 205 yards, but the now 10-1 Panthers had too much in their war wagon. Trond Grizzell caught seven of Short’s offerings for 138 yards, but it wasn’t enough as San Marino dropped to 4-7 overall after rallying to finish second in the Rio Hondo League with consecutive wins over South Pasadena, La Cañada and Temple City. Short connected with Andy Sutherland twice for 38 yards and also found Michael Prappas three times for 25 yards.
But the Panthers’ lightning-quick defense throttled San Marino’s ground attack, limiting the Titans to a total of 57 yards on 21 carries, far below the standard. Junor Nick Singhal led the way with 37 of those yards on 14 attempts.
“Trond did a great job getting open and making plays when we asked him to,” Mesa said.
Defensively, senior middle linebacker Seth Matzumoto capped a sensational career with 12 tackles, followed by classmates Chris Leung, who had seven, and six apiece for Kourosh Hassibi and Seth Canul.
“Seth Maztumoto really hung in there and disturbed their ground game,” Mesa said. “This was a tough loss but we played hard and hung in there all night.”
Mesa battled what might have been San Marino High School’s most difficult pre-Rio Hondo League schedule in the history of the football program as well as a short takeover window following the retirement of Mike Hobbie, but got the Titans into the playoffs.
“I am still tying to wrap my head around this season,” Mesa said. “I will say that the kids continued to fight. We started out 1-6 and we got beat in a couple of them pretty bad. That can be demoralizing and for these kids to stick in there and win three straight was impressive. It happened late, but it did happen. We really built a team together and the players did their part. I am eternally grateful to them for not giving up.”