San Pedro High Flag Football 2023 Shines In Inaugural Year

When a new high school sports program begins, normally it takes time to build a winner from the ground up.

For San Pedro High flag football however, they didn't waste time in its inaugural season.

Not wanting to settle for just being one of the 54 CIF-Los Angeles City Section schools to take in this brand-new environment, San Pedro immediately looked to hire a man well versed in coaching the sport, and the school didn't have to look far for their man to steer the ship.

Enter Victor Tuberosi, a lifelong San Pedro resident who coached the Harry Bridges boys flag football team to the LA FIYA championship, the Mary Star Middle School boys flag football team to the Final Four of the Catholic Youth Organization tournament, and the Mary Star Middle School boys basketball team to the Finals of the CYO, also coaching numerous San Pedro youth teams to City champions.

If that name still doesn't ring a bell, not too long ago, Tuberosi coached the Mary Star Of The Sea High girls basketball team to the 2021 CIF-Southern Section Division 4-AA championship and was named CIF-SS Coach Of The Year twice in 2019 & 2021 with a 155-99 record and three Santa Fe League titles during his ten-year tenure from 2013-2023.

Hiring Tuberosi was just the first chapter of the incredible first-year story for this program that featured 24 girls and the added guidance from assistant coaches Chris Amalfitano and Nick Fiamengo.

San Pedro (24-4 overall) was blessed to have sensational athletes from several different sports, none more familiar on campus than girls basketball senior Noelani Raigans, who along with fellow flag football teammates in seniors Shalia Coleman, Maddison Joseph-Cooper and Taylor Blair, plus sophomores Naomi Eneliko, Madison Adrid & Jayda Sanford, helped lead the Lady Pirate hoopsters to the 2023 CIF-LACS Division 2 title.

Tuberosi then was able to bring in athletes who excelled in even more sports, like the soccer quartet of senior Nicole Castaneda alongside juniors Logan Bader, Stella Malone and Giuliana Sutrin, plus the sophomore softball tag team of pitcher Jenna Ortega, now a quarterback, and fellow sophomore outfielder Dahlia Davila.

Year one officially begun with a highly respectable 6-0 loss at CIF-SS power Redondo Union of Redondo Beach on September 6, 2023, but then confidence stemming from that outcome skyrocketed to the top three days later when San Pedro gained their first two victories of the year with a 38-14 rout of host Santee of Los Angeles, followed by a 45-0 shutout of Lincoln of Los Angeles in their first doubleheader.

From there, San Pedro immediately took control in the Marine League, winning all twelve encounters by decisive margins against Narbonne of Harbor City, University of Los Angeles, Fairfax of Los Angeles, Los Angeles CES, Westchester and Hamilton of Los Angeles, pitching eight shutouts along the way.

San Pedro made even more history by winning the first L.A. City Flag Football Classic Tournament at Narbonne, easily winning their pool by shutting out Montebello, Mira Costa of Manhattan Beach & Mendez of Los Angeles before avenging a September 15 loss to Eagle Rock with a 14-8 victory over the Eagles in the championship game itself on September 25.

Also gaining some more ground in victories over CIF-SS South Bay schools like West Torrance and Palos Verdes, and also garnering an impressive 34-0 shutout win at Mayfair of Lakewood, it caught the eye of the CIF-LACS to the point that they awarded San Pedro the top seed of the inaugural CIF-LACS Open Division playoffs.

Thanks to the suffocating pressure-packed defense and fast-paced, no-huddle spread offense, San Pedro easily dispatched Los Angeles Leadership Academy, 48-0 in the first round, then shutting out rival Narbonne a third time, 28-0 in the quarterfinals, before hosting the biggest game of the year at Mike Walsh Pirate Stadium that even rivaled the Battle Of The Harbor whenever the Pirates take on Banning year after year.

Except this was a CIF-LACS Open Division semifinal against Eagle Rock, who also steamrolled their way to a rubber match with the Pirates with a championship berth at stake.

For the first and only time all season, San Pedro trailed at halftime in front of their home crowd down 13-6, but they weren't about to let their perfect home record slip away as Ortega threw a perfect bomb to Raigans for a touchdown to cut their deficit down to 13-12 following a failed two-point conversion. The Eagles quickly responded with a touchdown to go up 19-12, but their extra-point attempt was picked off by Raigans.

On San Pedro's final offensive drive, facing a fourth-and-16, Ortega connected with Coleman on a curl route pattern. Incredibly, Coleman shed off two would-be flag pull defenders in one fell swoop before coasting down the far sideline for a 55-yard touchdown, and following the two-point conversion catch by Raigans, San Pedro suddenly led by a single point with 1:04 to play.

Once again, it was Raigans in the middle of things when she left her designed defensive spot to run up and deflect the Eagles' last-ditch pass on fourth-and-10 to force the final turnover on downs with 27 seconds to play, securing the Pirates' 20-19 victory on November 15 to protect their home turf with a perfect home stretch.

Even the Pirates' bitter 14-6 loss in the Open Division championship game to Birmingham of Lake Balboa three days after that improbable come-from-behind victory isn't enough to diminish the remarkable first season produced by the Lady Pirates' flag football season. 

Raigans, Coleman and Castaneda were all named to the inaugural All-CIF LACS Open Division team, while they along with Ortega were inaugural All-Marine League selections. However, nothing can be taken away from the incredible strides made by the likes of Adrid, Sutrin, Malone, Davila, Sanford (18 interceptions on defense) and freshman wide receiver Lexi Lopez. 

With 2024 now on the horizon, how will San Pedro build from what 2023 brought to the table?

(Note: Photo courtesy of John Mattera Photography)

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