By Christian Romo
School doesn’t start for Poly students until next week, but this proved to be no challenge for the Panther football team. Undermanned and on the road, the Panthers cruised to a season-opening victory Friday night in Temple City.
Behind two touchdown passes from senior quarterback John Genske, the Pasadena Polytechnic Panthers (1-0) defeated the Temple City Rams (0-1) 42-14 in a non-conference matchup. The Panthers jumped out to a 21-0 lead by the end of the first quarter and cruised the rest of the way for an easy victory.
The Panthers began the game with a 57-yard TD on a screen pass from Genske to junior tailback Christian Henderson with just two-and-a-half minutes elapsed in the first quarter. They responded with a pooch kick on the ensuing kickoff, recovering a fumble by Temple City junior Keefe Irsjad and beginning their second drive in Rams territory. The Panthers utilized a squib kick on their next two kickoff attempts and the Rams added an onside kick attempt of their own in the fourth quarter, but none were recovered successfully.
Temple City couldn’t advance on its opening drive in the middle of the first quarter, with junior quarterback Isaiah Isaac struggling to manage play calling and clock management. The Rams accumulated two penalties in their opening series and the drive ended with a punt deep from their own end zone that netted zero yards. The Panthers punched in a touchdown a few plays later.
Down 28-0, the Rams opened the second half with a methodical 54-yard drive, scoring on a 14-yard touchdown run from junior utility man Justin Bowman. But the Panthers responded immediately with a score of their own, a 40-yard run from senior running back Brady Carter. It was Carter’s second touchdown of the game, the first coming off a slant route from Genske for a 36-yard score in the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter with the Rams down by three touchdowns, Rams Coach Marc Shettleroe decided to go for it on fourth-and-short, deep in Panther territory. It was the one risk the Rams would take all game and it bit them as a fumble recovered by the Panthers lead to a 78-yard touchdown. It was the highlight of the game for the Panther’s defense, which managed Temple City’s ground game and shut down the Ram’s air attack the entire game.
Despite dressing fewer than 30 players, Poly utilized many ball carriers and even gave snaps to junior backup quarterback Matt Loomis, who completed an impressive 57-yard pass at the end of the third quarter. The Panthers utilized pre-snap motion and misdirection to confuse the Ram’s run defense, leading to three touchdowns on the ground in a controlled and effective rushing attack.
The Rams gave their home crowd a reason to celebrate late in the fourth quarter, however, adding a rushing touchdown from sophomore running back Sam Jackimowicz to finish the game.
The loss didn’t dampen the mood of the Ram’s home opener as the fans celebrated with Temple City’s flag guard and marching band, who interspersed chants with songs and impromptu dance performances (and a rousing rally from the marching band’s trombone section).
The football team may not play as it once did, but the band still played, and the fans still cheered as if it were 1976 all over again.
Poly will host Brentwood in their home opener next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Temple City will host non-conference San Gabriel Valley opponent Arroyo next Friday at 7 p.m.