PASADENA — On a few occasions this season, fans, teachers or administrators have walked up to Hoover High football Coach Chris Long to applaud his team’s efforts. They’ve told Long that his players worked hard and put forth a great effort.
Long appreciates the compliments, but he’s also tired of them because most of the accolades have come after losses.
“I want to win,” he said.
The Tornadoes came close to winning on Friday night, but yet again had to accept praise for a loss.
Hoover came within an extra point of tying the game at one point in the second half and lost by one score against host Pasadena, 21-13, in the Pacific League opener for both teams.
“This team fought hard,” Long said.
Indeed they did against the Bulldogs (2-2, 1-0 in league).
Despite trailing by two scores in the second quarter, the Tornadoes (1-3, 0-1) showed promise. Hoover drove inside Pasadena’s 35 three times, but came away with no points more than 15 minutes into the game.
“It was little mistakes,” Tornado quarterback AJ Pule said. “That’s why we didn’t score.”
Hoover finally scored on a trick play. Ivan Tello took a halfback pass and found Elvis Fuentes wide open inside the 10. Fuentes hauled in the pass and completed a 41-yard score to cut Pasadena’s lead to 14-7 with 32 seconds left in the second quarter.
The Tornadoes’ defense made two stops in the second half, as the latter gave Hoover possession on Pasadena’s 33. Twelve plays later, Fuentes scored on a 10-yard pass from Pule and Hoover seemed poise to tie the score.
But it missed the extra point, which seemed to take the enthusiasm away from the Hoover sideline at least for a short time.
After a Tornadoes fumble in the fourth quarter, Pasadena took over at midfield and turned to Nick Escoe with 10 minutes to play. The senior scored on a 41-yard run on his way to a game-high 188 yards rushing in only 11 carries.
Hoover never threatened again, and lost what it knew was a perfect opportunity to begin its quest for the playoffs on a bright note.
“We should have won this game,” said Pule, who was 11 of 24 for 150 yards.
Long said his team has had trouble scoring this season.
“We move the ball well, but we keep kicking ourselves in the foot,” he said. “I’m not sure what [our problem] is. We have to find a way to fix it. We have to find a way to win.”