First published in the Sept. 1 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
San Marino High School head football coach Ray Torres has consistently praised his team’s perseverance, and now he has a prime example of Exhibit A should anyone question the Titans’ aplomb.
San Marino came back from a 13-7 deficit late in the fourth quarter on Friday night to stun visiting Arroyo High of El Monte, 14-13, in a nonleague game.
The Titans improved their record to 1-1 with the thrilling victory.
“Who” assisted in pulling off Friday night’s minor miracle might have trumped “how” San Marino marched the final 71 yards to hand the Knights their second consecutive loss. Because the host Titans were the beneficiaries of solid play from junior Brady Beck, San Marino’s backup quarterback who played his first meaningful snaps at the varsity level, and senior Jaden Clarke, who added to his semi-legendary status in his second football game. Ever.
Beck made all the correct decisions when he got the nod from Torres in the third quarter when starter Riley Short suffered an injured ankle. All Clarke did was return an intercepted pass 82 yards for a touchdown and block an Arroyo extra-point attempt that provided the eventual margin of victory for the Titans.
Photos courtesy Raymond Quon
The Titans were behind 13-7 with 2:25 left in the game after failing to convert a fourth-and-longat midfield. Arroyo took over and needed only to run out the clock to get their first win.
But San Marino’s Justin Levy recovered a fumble at the Titans’ own 29-yard line to infuse the stadium with fresh hope and just over a minute left on the clock.
Beck quickly found junior Ryan Park for an eight-yard gain and then connected with Mikey Yessaian for an eight-yard pickup on third down and two at the San Marino 35-yard line.
Beck was sacked on the next play but quickly recovered, connecting with Park for 41 yards that took San Marino to the Arroyo 20. Tailback Ryan Singhal gave San Marino a first down-and-goal situation at Arroyo’s 8-yard line two plays later.
San Marino faced fourth-and-goal with 15 seconds left when Torres called a timeout.
“I give Brady a lot of credit because he stayed very cool,” Torres said.
Beck rolled to his right to buy some extra time and then found Park a yard deep in the end zone for the game-tying score. Freshman Jacob Kreinbring then added the extra point that set off a joyous celebration inside Titan Stadium.
Torres praised San Marino’s defense for its outstanding effort on Friday. Junior Coleman Morning led the squad with 15 solo tackles and six assists. Liam Van Fossan checked in with nine stops and Julian Navarette also recorded nine tackles. Sid Danenhauer, Nick Escamilla and Clarke each made six tackles, with help from Felix Steinberger (five tackles), Singhal, Julian Solis, Mitch Mooney and Tomas Bilvado (four apiece). Nathan Yarahmadi and Park checked in with three tackles apiece while Justin Levy made two tackles and also recovered a fumble for San Marino.
Short and Beck had similar passing statistics. Short completed 8 of 18 passes for 102 yards and Beck was good on 8 of 18 passes for 108 yards. Junior Mikey Yessaian caught five passes for 70 yards while Park grabbed three for 89 yards and the winning score. Singhal made three catches for 18 yards, Morning caught two passes for 46 yards and Alexander Parwar made two catches for 27 yards. Toby Pedroza and Escamilla also made receptions for the Titans.
Torres had plenty of feedback from the game.
“When people have asked me, I tell them a game like that is great for the fans, but is rough on the coach,” he said, referencing the comeback win. “Our defense worked hard and gave us a chance to win.”
Torres said that Short suffered an ankle sprain but is expected to return to practice and might play on Friday when San Marino hosts Rosemead. He praised Beck’s poise under fire.
“You could tell he was nervous and inexperienced,” Torres said. “The moment was getting a little big for him but he had some big fourth-down conversions for us. Brady made the plays when we needed them and Friday night was a big confidence builder for him.”
Torres also reserved comment for Clarke, who — though a senior — is playing the first football of his life.
“He is something else,” Torres said. “He had such a fine game and he still fully doesn’t know what he is doing. He asks a lot of questions and he is just so new to the game. The biggest plays of the game all came from him.”
Torres mentioned Clarke’s blocked extra point that gave San Marino a chance to win the game with a conversion of their own following Park’s touchdown.
“The blocked extra point was so dynamic,” Torres added. “All we want is for his athleticism to take over. We give him a lot of coaching but at some point, we just let him go. He ends up starting in Week 1 and then has that game in Week 2. Once he gets familiar with the sport, who knows what Jaden will do next.”
THE PANTHER PITCH
San Marino welcomes Rosemead to Titan Stadium this Friday evening at 7 p.m. for a contest that Torres said will resemble last week’s.
“Rosemead is very similar to Arroyo,” said the coach. “Their defense will show certain things and then roll into something else. It is going to be another tough game for us.”
Rosemead lost to La Cañada, 56-26, in the opener before a bye last week.
“They will come into the game very fresh and they have a lot of talent. I think we match up well with Rosemead, who is similar to Arroyo.”