The aura around PCC football has always been doubtful, negative, and dismissive. Since 2013, the Lancers have a combined record of 9-31 and he revolving door of coaches didn’t help. Casting further into the narrative that PCC football is a joke. It seemed like history would repeat itself when two weeks before the season, head coach Thomas Maher was suspended by PCC.
“The biggest thing for us was just making sure the kids were stable,” head coach Steven Mojarro said.
Mojarro was the Offensive Line coach for the Lancers, but he was awarded the role of acting head coach to start the season. Mojarro would lead the Lancers to a 5-2 record in SCFA Metro League play, and an appearance in a championship game verses undefeated powerhouse Santa Ana.
However, it wasn’t all success at the start for the Lancers. A 52-17 loss to Long Beach would be the start of an 0-3 run to start off the Mojarro era at PCC. To make things worse, leading quarterback Ian Brian, who was 3rd for passing yards in California at the time, decided to abandon the Lancers and quit the team.
“All credit goes to [the kids]. They just played hard for each other, they made sure they were in the right space to make plays, and eventually it would all click for us,” said Mojarro.
Freshman Esiah Ah-Hing would step in for Brian against Southwestern to throw for 318 yards and 4 touchdowns. Ah-Hing also led a 10 point comeback in the fourth quarter and capped off with a game-winning touchdown pass to number one target and wide receiver Stevie Williams.
The win would kickstart a 5-game winning streak, including wins over reigning champs LA Southwest and rivals Glendale.
“It just goes to show you the hard work these assistant coaches and everybody did in recruiting,” said head coach Mojarro. “They never gave up…and the product we were able to display on the field was just a result of all the sleepless nights and hard work we all put in.”
PCC players seemed like they were actually having fun playing this year, opposed to dreary and dry performances of the past.
“Our sophomore leadership is a big part of that,” said head coach Mojarro. “Matt Terlizzi had a great game [vs Glendale], kids like Jasper Chavez, Yussef Mohammed also had a few great games for us returning in the kicking game, Enrique Lozano also broke the school record [for longest field goal] against Glendale. Stevie Williams, Ty Purcell, those guys all came together and did what they were supposed to do for us.”
The Lancers offense clicked no matter who was under center. Sophomore transfer Adam Besana fractured his wrist in week one, but Ian Brian, Mario Bobadilla, and Esiah Ah-Hing all stepped up and made a difference in each game. Bobadilla and Besana both threw for 100+ yards against Glendale, showing that they could share snaps.
“We’re finally coming together as a team, and we have everything in place,” Bobadilla said post-game. “We started slow, but when we pick things up, that’s what’s making us better in general. Everyone is supporting each other.”
The running game, led by Ahmad Andrews and James Shaw, was super physical, and dominated all opponents with a smashmouth style of play.
“Another coming out party was Kevin Thomas, who is a kid that’s a phenomenal running back who’s going to be really powerful next year,” head coach Mojarro said.
However, the Lancers fairytale season would come to a halt after losing their first conference game to East Los Angeles College (ELAC) by a 42-14 beating.
The next week was a tough road trip to Santa Ana, who was undefeated at the time, and ELAC’s only loss. If PCC could top their opponent, they would be crowned SCFA Metro League champions by way of tiebreaker. However, Santa Ana was never in any doubt after winning 54-29.
“We came off slow and they put up [a strong defense],” safety Ty Apana-Purcell said on the road loss. “We were down 28-7, and by then it was asking too much on our offense to put up that much points in so little time.”
“We saw that last game as us narrowing the gap,” said head coach Mojarro on the disappointing finale. “From where we started last year when I first came in here at 1-9, to now being 5-5 and in the title game, I think all the turmoil and distractions these kids faced finally caught up to us.”
Going into next season, the future looks bright for Pasadena. With a full summer to prep his team, coach Mojarro will finally get to impose how he wants his team to play.
“Esiah Ah-Hing and Mario Bobadilla are the guys we expect to be in the leadership roles next season. Forest Fajardo is one of those guys at receiver that could replace Stevie Williams…Offensive Line wise, we return everyone, which is huge for any team. I don’t think we’re going to miss a beat,” said head coach Mojarro.
As of yet, PCC has not named Steven Mojarro the official head coach, with Thomas Maher still suspended, but not fired. “We really don’t know yet what’s going to happen, but it’s our job to stay focused and get these kids in shape for next season,” admitted Mojarro.
PCC football is on the rise, and with the huge asset of a returning offensive line, and the scouting team that Mojarro has built, the 2018 season looks super promising.
“I think we’ll be very special next year, and we’ll be able to close the gap”