San Marino High football had a standout regular season, recording a winning record and finishing atop the Rio Hondo League.
As a reward, the Titans earned a return to the postseason and were bumped up from Division XII to Division X based on this season’s resume.
Hosting Redlands, San Marino fell behind early before mounting a comeback, only to run out of time and fall 28-21 to the Terriers on Nov. 3 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division X playoffs, bringing an end to the Titans’ season.
“They fought,” San Marino coach Nate Turner said. “They didn’t give up and I’m proud of them.”
Redlands’ (6-5 overall) key to victory was successfully executing three onside kicks, and the ensuing extra possessions resulted in 21 of the visitors’ 28 points.
“I would have much rather gotten to the second round at least to see what we’re really about, but it didn’t happen that way. We got behind the eight ball in terms of those onsides kicks,” Turner said. “That’s a tough pill to swallow, but good for Redlands.”
The Terriers, the division’s No. 9 seed, also featured a steady dose of running back Teddy McGee. The junior carried the ball 31 times for 183 yards and two touchdowns.
San Marino (8-3) trailed 28-7 going into the fourth quarter. That changed on the fourth play of the frame when Titan running back Coleman Morning took the handoff and looked inside before bouncing it out to the right for a 1-yard touchdown run. Nick Acuna then booted home the PAT kick.
The ensuing Terrier drive started with a 20-yard run by McGee but was later derailed by a sack by Titan Mitch Mooney, after which Redlands was forced to punt, giving the Titans the ball at the Terrier 45-yard line. The drive culminated with a 20-yard touchdown pass from San Marino quarterback Brady Beck to Ryan Park that was lofted into the arms of the senior receiver near the edge of the right side of the end zone. The score was 28-21 with 4:14 to go.
The Titans, the No. 8 seed in the division, then tried an onsides kick of their own, but could not make the recovery. The Titan defense twice forced a fourth-and-four situation. However, Redlands converted both to keep the ball, the first thanks to an offsides call on San Marino and the second due to a 6-yard run by McGee, after which the Terriers knelt down, running out the rest of the clock to end the Titan season.
“Reflecting back on the season, there has been so many ups, there’s been downs, but we’ve always bounced back from the lows and I’m just so proud of this team,” senior Mikey Yessaian said. “There is nothing else I can say about this team, I love my guys.”
The first points of the contest were set up when San Marino’s first possession ended with a shotgun snap that sailed over quarterback Parker Wilson’s head and was recovered by Redlands. The visitors then drove 35 yards, finishing with a 1-yard touchdown run by McGee for a 7-0 lead with 4:30 left in the first.
The Terriers kept the ball with an onsides kick that hit a Titan before being recovered by the kicker. Redlands then drove 51 yards for another touchdown. This one came on fourth-and-seven when Terriers quarterback Anthony Fraire pulled the ball down and scrambled 9 yards for the score and a 14-0 lead with 13 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Redlands then executed another successful onsides kick, denying the hosts the ball once again. The drive that ensued covered 29 yards and ended with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Fraire to Brian Corrales, pushing the advantage to 21-0 with 8:39 left before halftime.
The Titans finally got the ball back when Liam Van Fossan covered the bouncing Redlands kick. The Titans then mounted an eight-play, 65-yard scoring drive. The hosts’ first points of the contest came when Beck threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Yessaian, who caught the pass coming across the field from left to right before sprinting the rest of the way to the end zone.
Sid Danenhauer ended the next Redlands possession with an interception. The following Titan drive resulted in a turnover on downs just outside the red zone, after which the Terriers knelt down to run off the final minute of the half to lead 21-7 at the break.
Redlands started the second half with another successful onsides kick. The Terriers then drove 40 yards in five plays, starting with a 25-yard run by McGee and ending with a 7-yard touchdown run by McGee. It was 28-7 with 8:49 left in the third and stayed that way until the fourth, when the Titans mounted their comeback attempt.
Beck finished 18 of 22 for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Yessaian had six catches for 97 yards and the score. Park had five grabs for 41 yards and the score. Morning, Danenhauer and J.J. Wilson each had two catches for 3, 23 and 19 yards, respectively. Julian Solis and Nathan Yarahmadi each had one catch for 1 and 8 yards, respectively. Morning also had eight carries for 29 yards and the score.
The loss marks an end to the seniors’ time as Titans. Yarahmadi, one of the San Marino seniors, reflected on his time with the group.
“I’ve been playing with these guys since elementary school, middle school, all the way up to high school, and every year we just keep getting better,” he said. “This year we really showed it. We showed how San Marino football can really make a comeback.”
First published in the Nov. 9 issue of the San Marino Tribune