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HomeBlocksFront-TopHong, Carter Represent South Pasadena With All-CIF Honors

Hong, Carter Represent South Pasadena With All-CIF Honors

Tigers senior Thomas Carter earned all CIF accolades as a lineman to cap off his final year on the South Pasadena football team

It was a historic season for the South Pasadena High football team, and with that came prestigious honors.
Tigers seniors Jason Hong and Thomas Carter were recognized with all-CIF honors on Jan. 29 following a campaign that ended with the team’s first Rio Hondo League title in more than four decades.
Hong was selected as a running back and Carter was named as a lineman as part of the 40-member team representing CIF Southern Section Division XI.
“It definitely shows what kind of team we were for a lineman and a running back to be on the all-CIF selections,” Carter said.
South Pasadena football coach Jeff Chi said the pair was properly “rewarded” for the amount of work they put in throughout their years on the team.
“They’ve seen a lot of success and through this experience, I think they understand how hard work could result in a lot of good things and it could pretty much accomplish anything they want to,” Chi said. “Hats off to these two young boys. There are other players, obviously, it’s a team effort, but they were a huge part of it.”
Though the Tigers postseason journey was cut short after falling to Los Osos 30-27 in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division IX playoffs, South Pasadena football secured its first Rio Hondo League title since 1976, splitting the crown with San Marino and Monrovia.
The Tigers concluded the season with an overall 9-2 record and a 4-1 league mark.
Carter was at the center of the Tigers offense and defense. He helped pave the way for his teammates to find the gap for a downhill run or protected his quarterback for passing plays.
“I’m grateful for every opportunity that I’ve gotten,” Carter said. “This is more than just football. It’s more than just South Pas. It’s also lifelong memories that I’m really grateful for and I got to do that with my family. I got to do it for my family. I got to do that for God, so it means a lot to me.”
On top of being named to the all-CIF team, Carter was also selected to the Rio Hondo League first-team offensive line.
“When you look at him on the surface, you wouldn’t think much of it, but he’s definitely got the heart of a tiger,” Chi said.
Carter joined the team when he was a sophomore, and the coaching staff elevated him to the varsity level “out of necessity,” Chi said. The move was questionable, he added, but Carter quickly impressed and quashed any doubts.
“As soon as he got up, he started to perform and he just amazed the coaching staff with just how hard he blocks and takes on kids twice his size,” Chi said. “He’s been a huge leader for us on the line for the past three years. It’s very deserving of him to win all-league, as well as all-CIF. I’m very happy for the kid.”
Added Carter, “It’s definitely a life experience. You become more mature and I think you become a man through football showing up on time, putting in the work and discipline. You definitely grow a family, too. I’ve become close with many of these guys over the season and we’ll have something to talk about for life.”
Carter plans to attend a community college and continue his athletic career at one. Among them are Pasadena City College, Glendale Community College, East Los Angeles College and Mt. San Antonio College, which some of his peers are planning to attend.
“I’m just grateful for the year and for my coaches for everything leading up to this because it was definitely more than I expected,” he said. “It’s a lot to take in and it’s a lot to reflect on after the season. I’m grateful I’ve got these dogs with me.”
In his final season as a South Pasadena football player, Hong was a force to be reckoned with.
It is the second consecutive year that Hong was named to the all-CIF team. That recognition goes along with his Rio Hondo League Offensive Player of the Year accolade awarded this season.
“It’s a great honor, especially with all the people that I’d been named with,” said Hong, who initially started his Tigers career as a linebacker before making the move to running back in his junior year.
The Tigers senior scored 39 rushing touchdowns, an output that was the ninth best in the state and was the most scored among CIF Southern Section Division XI players.
Hong averaged 187.5 yards rushing per game, the sixth best in the Southern Section and ranked 21 in the state.
“I think he made a name for himself as one of the fine running backs in the San Gabriel Valley,” Chi said.
The senior’s season high marks were impressive, scoring six touchdowns against Temple City on Dec. 12, and rushing for 327 yards against La Cañada on Oct. 20.
Hong scored four times on five occasions and surpassed rushing 100 yards in nine games. His final yardage tally reached 2,142.
“It’s amazing to see everything pay off after doing everything that I’ve done,” Hong said. “I know a lot of people have told me that if you put in a lot, you get a lot back, and it’s true.”
Hong plans to continue his athletic career at Mt. San Antonio College.

First published in the February 16 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

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