by Mitch Lehman
And so it all comes down to this. Put quite simply, the biggest football game played around these parts in well over a decade – Monrovia and San Marino – facing off Friday evening in Titan Stadium on the final night of the regular season, both teams lugging perfect 4-0 Rio Hondo League records, the winner walking off the field with a championship.
If San Marino can find a way to pull this off, it will be the school’s first title since 1995 – the last time the Titans tamed the Wildcats, ironically – and the anticipation in town is tangible. Requests for predictions and possible point spreads are being tossed about like leftover Halloween candy.
Titan alumni are rumored to be traveling from near and far to see if – after two consecutive years of coming darned close – San Marino can finally break the 17-year Monrovia drought.
There may never be a bridge any farther for the Titans as the Wildcats are as tough and talented a bunch to ever don the kelly green and white. Monrovia boasts a stable of top-level athletes at the skill positions and this season add blue chip offensive linemen to the mix.
Senior running back Kurt Scoby – suiting up for the fifth high school in his four-year career – is about as untacklable (if that’s even a word, and we will know whether it is or not Friday at about 7:01 p.m.) has already “soft-committed” to Fresno State.
That’s the only thing “soft” about Scoby, who in nine games has rushed 114 times for 1,353 yards – a ridiculous 11.83 yards per carry average – and 21 touchdowns.
“He is about as good a back as I have seen,” said San Marino head Coach Mike Hobbie, who has seen a lot of backs. “If he is able to bounce outside after first contact and get into the clear, it will be a very long night for us. He is fast and he is strong and he uses both of those skills to his advantage. He is the real deal.”
Options B, C and D ain’t too shabby either, as Monrovia has amassed another 1,000 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground spread out among a half-dozen other players who are itching to get the ball.
But it’s on the defensive side of the ball where Hobbie feels the Wildcats are most improved. Senior Logan Craig, who wears license plate #11, has racked up eighty-nine tackles, fifty-five of which were solos, to pace a swarming defense.
“They are much better defensively this year than their other two teams I have coached against,” Hobbie said. “They are well-rounded in all phases of the game. Special teams, too. It will be a tall task for us but our kids will be ready for it.”
A Ram Hammering…
The Titans crossed one wish off Hobbie’s list last Friday night, a 48-0 pasting of Temple City which assured San Marino of at least a second place finish and yet another trip to the CIF Mid-Valley Division playoffs – the third in Hobbie’s three seasons.
“The defense played an excellent game and stopped a very tough offense,” Hobbie said of the Ram ground attack, which had bludgeoned South Pasadena in a prior contest. “Daniel Walsh, Justin Hill, Larsen Cobb…the entire defensive line, they really dug in.”
Taking advantage of the appearance of transfer running back Nate Salcido, Temple City had completely shifted their offensive scheme from an air-based attack to the pre-historic double wing in which all eleven offensive players could fit under the average store-bought easy-up. The aforementioned seniors, as well as tackles Alex Knott and Adam Padilla, cut the legs off the Ram offense, holding Temple City to just 51 rushing yards on 32 carries – a paltry 1.59 yards per try.
Offensively, senior quarterback Andrew Ferraco carried 14 times for 125 yards and three touchdowns and junior tailback Tenny McFarlane picked up 74 yards on his eleven attempts.
Junior Tyler Spitzer caught two passes for 67 yards and a touchdown and classmate Chip Crowley hauled in three for fifty-one yards and two scores. Ferraco was 4-for-8 passing and sophomore Carson Glazier completed all four of his passes for 58 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Walsh, Larsen Cobb and sophomore defensive back Mark Wicke were credited with seven tackles apiece while Will Cobb, Spitzer and Knott made a half dozen each.
One off the game’s more memorable plays was made by J.T. Stirling, who astutely recovered an attempted onside kick by Temple City to open the second half, giving San Marino exceptional field position, which they cashed in four minutes later to take a 41-0 lead.
J.P. Shohfi caught a pass for 31 yards but made his biggest play on special teams, dropping Temple City’s punter at the three yard line late in the first quarter. Two plays later, Ferraco piled in from the one to give the Titans a 20-0 lead.
“[Tyler] Spitzer had another great game on both sides of the ball,” Hobbie said in giving him the Earl Bruce Award, presented annually to the San Marino player who performs best against Temple City.
Bruce, a former Titan football player, passed away in 2009 at the age of 55. During his career, Bruce never played on a team that defeated Temple City, including a 55-0 loss in 1971 that was particularly painful for the scrappy defensive back.
Stevie Yortsos, Seve Woods, Matt Wofford and Nick Gott preceded Spitzer in claiming the award.
The Rio Hondo League football schedule rotates forward every year, which makes the Week 10 title tilt even more remarkable. Both teams have held serve – the Titans’ 21-7 win over South Pasadena the only close call of the RHL campaign – setting the table for Friday’s long-anticipated showdown.
“It would be really nice to get this win,” Hobbie concluded. “We have worked extremely hard all year long and I can’t think of a better way to finish the season.”
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