San Pedro relies on Roman Sanchez and strong defensive effort in win over Venice

San Pedro defensive end Nick Fernandez rises up to bat down a pass from quarterback Paul Kessler.
San Pedro defensive end Nick Fernandez rises up to bat down a pass from quarterback Paul Kessler in a 20-7 win over Venice.
(Craig Weston)

On a day that saw more than a dozen City Section football games canceled because of excessive heat concerns or air quality issues, San Pedro High could not have presented a more comfortable Thursday night, with a cool breeze coming in from the harbor as a cruise ship headed off on a voyage.

The only heat was being generated by San Pedro’s defense against a competitive Venice team that budged and ended up breaking mostly when Roman Sanchez had the ball. He rushed for 117 yards and scored a touchdown playing running back and wildcat quarterback to help the Pirates defeat Venice 20-7 and improve to 3-0.

Venice’s defense played well against most everything the Pirates could throw at them — except in dealing with Sanchez on third and fourth downs out of the wildcat formation.

“I love it,” Sanchez said of playing occasionally at quarterback.

“He’s good,” Venice coach Angelo Gasca said. “That’s legitimate. They have their best man with the ball in his hands. That’s going to be tough to stop for anyone, but I hope we get another chance.”


Besides Sanchez, standout defensive end Nick Fernandez and defensive tackle Jerry Witty also caused the Gondoliers problems constantly putting pressure on quarterback Paul Kessler, who was limited to 79 yards passing. Kessler finally connected with on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Romeo Signore in the fourth quarter to prevent the shutout.

San Pedro’s line play has left the Pirates as the likely No. 1 seed for the City Section Open Division playoffs. The Pirates are alternating quarterbacks every other series, and it will be important to develop a passing attack in the coming weeks. Marcus Jeronymo had a 19-yard touchdown pass to Laron Tunupopo and also scored on a one-yard run.

Venice (1-2) also figures to be heard from. The Gondoliers are hoping to add a couple linemen in the coming weeks when eligibility issues are cleared that will enable Kessler to have more time to throw.

Gasca told his players, “Believe in yourself and believe in each other as much as your coaches believe in you.”

Sanchez wasn’t the only person who had a good night. His father won the 50-50 raffle, taking home $400.

“I’m going home and take some of that,” he said.

Loyola High School and Long Beach Poly lead the group of 67 Southern California natives on 53-man NFL rosters this season.

Aug. 31, 2022