The Best of Pasadena Sports Scene in Calendar Year 2017; St. Francis Football, PCC Baseball and Football Reached Record Highs

Published : Tuesday, January 2, 2018 | 5:38 AM

The Best of Pasadena Sports Scene in Calendar Year 2017

It is now January 1, 2018.

In the past 365 days, though, Pasadena prep and college athletes saw the extreme range on the spectrum between highs and lows, and that is not a pun directed at California’s new acceptance to recreational marijuana beginning today.

Early in 2017, Pasadena City College baseball had their best season in literally 50 years behind coach Pat McGee, who is clearly one of the area’s and state’s most impressive leaders.

McGee took over a PCC club that was 1-20 in conference play and ranked No. 87 out of 88 JC’s in the state.

Two years later (2016) they won the South Coast Conference, earned a first-round playoff series over Riverside City College and moved up 75 spots in the state rankings.

PCC’s 26 wins was their best since 1967.

Perhaps McGee’s two best qualities, though, were convincing kids (young men) like Jeremy Conant from Rancho Cucamonga, and Race Gardner and Alex Briggs from Glendora a reason to drive in gridlock 6 days a week on the congested 210 freeway instead of a more convenient drive (or walk) for Conant to Chaffey College or Mt. Sac for Conant and Briggs, because they bought into his message.

Along with the three mentioned, PCC got enormous efforts from pitchers Nick Esparza, Paul McAllister, Jesse Hanckel and Matt McElligott.

Andres Kim and Jose Jimenez helped Conant and Briggs round out the infield, and Shane Ogata and others roamed the outfield.

And more importantly, the undying effort of McGee and his staff to get their players the chance to play at the four-year level and the chance to pursue their dreams, and he did so with ‘tough love’ and long hours on the field.

Hopefully PCC will (if they haven’t already) hire McGee full time, because at 44, he’s got a lot of time to influence and improve the lives of hundreds and hundreds of young men with the discipline and work ethic he instills.

PCC football seemed destined for the toilet bowl when they suspended indefinitely their coach Tom Maher, who was in his second stint with the program.

With less than a month or so to go before the start of the 2017 season, PCC elevated Steven Mojarro to head coach.

Little was known as to how Mojarro would handle the top spot.

After a slow 0-3 start, Mojarro, his coaching staff, and most importantly, his players won five in a row and nearly made a postseason appearance.

PCC finished 5-5, but their accomplishments, especially considering expectations with all the drama and changes surrounding the program was incredible.

Even more incredible is PCC keeping the media in the dark as to whether Mojarro will be back or wants to be back or if the job has been posted for a new hire.

What made Mojarro stand out was his ability to get his players of all backgrounds to buy in as one.

He wasn’t afraid to bench key players if they set a bad tone for the program.

And most impressive was Mojarro’s concern of getting each player enough game time to make film on each of his players to send out to coaches and programs at the next level, and did all of that while still winning games.

PCC got impressive efforts from quarterbacks Mario Bobadilla, Isaia Ah-Hing and Adam Besana.

Not to mentions receivers Stevie Williams, Kyle Torres, Forrest Fajardo and running backs James Shaw and Amad Andrews.

Matt Terlizzi, and his buddies Jasper Chavez and Tristen Chavarria led the linebacking corps and JShoun Wolfe, Yusef Muhammad and Ty Apana-Purcell protected the Lancers defensive backfield.

PCC also saw the unlikely rise of a 6-foot, 250-pound kicker, Enrique Lozano, who arguably set the pace for JC kickers in the state with his consistency and range.

Saving the best of 2017 for last, the St. Francis football program was the year’s best story.

The Golden Knights are often times overlooked and might we add ignorantly so, because of their clean-cut and incredibly disciplined athletes.

St. Francis doesn’t have that hard-ass or intimidating type of athlete, they just have a solid core of student-athletes and coaches who play intelligently and together.

In 2017, St. Francis made their first CIF-SS finals appearance in literally 53 years.

The Golden Knights led by coach Jim Bonds and arguably the area’s deepest coaching staff entered the playoffs after a regular-season finale flop to Angelus League champion Cathedral.

It seemed like a lousy way to enter the playoffs, but with wins over La Serna, Citrus Hill and El Toro, the Golden Knights bounced back and played their best football of the season in crunch time.

Unfortunately, Rancho Verde broke the Golden Knights’ hearts with a walk-off 37-yard field goal in the championship game, but that doesn’t take away from the school’s best run since 1964.

SF got key and clutch production from more guys than can named, but that’s probably how they prefer it, because they see themselves as one.

But quarterback Darius Perrantes, running backs Elijah Washington and Kevin Armstead and receivers Greg Dulcich, Isaac Cordova, Blake Howard and Andrew Monarrez all played incredibly.

So did so many others on the defensive and special teams phases of the game.

What makes this team so special isn’t just their 12-win season and title-game run, it’s the way they carry themselves in the best and worst of times.

Other great stories from 2017:

** Flintridge Prep’s Kendall Kikkawa earning a $20,000 scholarship grant from Footlocker based on his excellence in the classroom, as well as on the football and baseball fields, and basketball court. The check was presented to the three-sport athlete and current Cal Berkeley student in front of the entire school at an assembly.

** La Salle’s Zane Lindeman throwing a no-hitter against San Pedro in the St. Paul Tournament.

** Poly winning a CIF-SS girls volleyball championship.

** The rise of the underclassmen brother-sister pitcher duo of Dawson and Devyn Netz at Maranatha.

** Pasadena, Blair and Maranatha’s trips to the CIF-SS boys basketball championship games in their respective divisions.

** PCC slugger Jeremy Conant rewriting the Lancers’ offensive record book.

We’re sure we’re missing names and accomplishments, and for that, we apologize.

But the cast of Pasadena Now and Pasadena Sports Now wants to send out all of our best to all the schools, student-athletes, programs and coaches for a safe and successful 2018 season.