First published in the Sept. 9 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.
Senior quarterback Niko Mavridis threw seven touchdown passes to six different receivers to lead the San Marino High School varsity football team to a convincing 48-6 victory over El Monte last Friday. The unbeaten Titans improved their record to 2-0 in the young season.
With the effort, Mavridis equaled the school’s all-time record for touchdown passes in a single game that was set by Carson Glazier in a CIF playoff win over Claremont High School on Nov. 14, 2014, when Glazier was a junior.
But Friday contained enough significant performances of its own. The Titans opened the scoring with 6:06 remaining in the first quarter when Mavridis threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to with Andrew Hornberger. Freshman Tobias Pedroza booted his first of six successful conversions to give San Marino a 7-0 lead.
El Monte botched a punt attempt on the ensuing possession and San Marino took over on the Lions’ 25-yard line.
Four plays and less than five minutes later, the Titans were back on the board, when Mavridis found fellow senior Michael Prappas wide open over the middle of the field to make the score 14-0.
But the fun was just beginning. On El Monte’s next possession, SMHS junior Ryan Singhal forced a fumble and the Titans recovered near midfield. Shortly thereafter, Mavridis made gold out of garbage, retreating into El Monte territory to retrieve an errant snap and finding sophomore Jayan Anvekar in the flat. Anvekar sprinted 60 yards to paydirt, though he was credited with only a 40-yard touchdown pass and San Marino led 21-0.
The hosts made it interesting when junior quarterback Joaquin Andrade capped an extended drive with a nine-yard scamper. But James Bell and Ryan Qu stopped Andrade on the two-point conversion attempt and the score remained 21-6 with 1:43 left in the first half.
That was plenty of time for the Titans, who drove the field with the assistance of two major penalties against El Monte. Mavridis connected again with Hornberger for a five-yard catch-and-carry to give San Marino a 28-6 advantage at the half.
The Titans received the kick to begin the second half and wasted little time in adding to the lead. Mavridis converted on fourth and goal from the Lions’ 15-yard line when he spotted sophomore Mikey Yessaian wide open in the back of the end zone to extend the lead to 35-6.
Coleman Morning recovered a fumble on El Monte’s next possession and the Titans immediately capitalized. Mavridis tossed a short pass to sophomore Ryan Park, who sprinted 74 yards to the end zone and a San Marino 42-6 lead. Senior Jayden Hollomand joined the fun in the Titans’ first possession of the fourth quarter. After yet another defensive stop by San Marino, Mavridis launched a pass to Hollomand, who dashed 93 yards to the end zone to cap the scoring.
Mavridis ended the night completing 15 of 21 passes for 402 yards and the record-tying seven touchdowns. Hornberger wound up with five catches for 73 yards and two touchdowns. Morning was credited with three catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Yessaian had similar numbers, with three catches for 36 yards and a touchdown. Prappas wound up with two catches for 34 yards and a touchdown. Anvekar, Singhal, Park and Hollomand each scored on their only receptions.
With such a prodigious passing attack, the Titans needed little on the ground. Junior Trevor Anton led San Marino with 31 yards on eight carries in relief of Singhal, who left the game in the second quarter with a knee injury. Singhal is expected to miss tomorrow night’s game with Fillmore but should be back in action next week.
Defensively, sophomore Clement Truong paced the Titans with 11 tackles, followed by Jay Bell (eight tackles), Prappas (seven), Brendan Long (five), and Nick Escamilla, Julian Solis and Morning, who made four stops apiece.
“I am glad that we won the game and very happy that a lot of kids got playing time, but I felt we were very sloppy, especially in the first half,” said SMHS first-year head coach Ray Torres. “We played a lot better in the second half as far as limiting mistakes is concerned. Overall, I felt we played pretty well.”
Torres said that Mavridis’ performance was “huge.”
“What I like most about it was that the seven touchdowns went to six different receivers,” Torres said. “The same with the Norwalk game when four different receivers caught a touchdown pass. That is a good sign and will make it more difficult to game-plan against our offense.”
Torres said that Singhal has been diagnosed with a sprained knee but was set to have an additional examination.
“We are just praying for the best right now,” Torres added. “I have told him to be patient and stay positive, regardless of the outcome.”
BACK IN A FLASH
San Marino returns to Titan Stadium for this Friday night’s home opener against Fillmore, a squad which defeated El Monte earlier this season, 56-0.
The Flashes boast a balanced offense that has accumulated 289 yards on the ground and 369 yards through the air through its first two games. Quarterback Joey Holladay has completed passes to nine different receivers and seven players have carried the ball on offense. Anthony Chessani is the leading rusher on the team with 24 carries for 191yards — a stellar average of eight yards per carry. The junior has also scored five touchdowns.
“Fillmore is a good football team,” said Torres. “This will be our biggest challenge to date. They play with an intensity that we have not seen so far this season.”
Torres said the Flashes’ roster is loaded with quality athletes and likes to run the ball.
“This is going to be an adjustment for us,” Torres said. “They are also very stout on defense. This is a well-rounded team. They are well-coached, play with a lot of intensity and they want to win.”
Junior Trevor Anton will take over at tailback in Singhal’s absence with Nathan Yarahmadi and Ryder Yoshitake set to fill in, if needed.
San Marino has installed some new things for the offensive side of the football.
“We have some new plays that we put in for Village Christian that we haven’t used yet,” Torres said.