Though there will be two different opponents on the 2017 schedule, the objective will remain the same for the St. Francis High football team.
Playing a stretch of tough nonleague opponents will hopefully put the Golden Knights in position to contend for the Angelus League championship.
“That’s what we want to be ready for,” said Bonds, whose team finished 9-2, 5-1 in league for second place before falling in the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs to Palos Verdes. “We know how hard it is to get through our league and we want to be able to see some teams — some we didn’t play against last year — to help us get ready for league.
“So, we like our schedule and there’s going to be some real good variety along the way. Some of the nonleague teams we’ll play are very athletic and others will be very physical. You get those type of teams in our league, so you’ll be ready for anything. The teams that we’ll be playing will be well-coached, too.”
St. Francis will begin its season at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 against visiting Mira Costa at Friedman Field. The Golden Knights kicked off 2016 with a 42-7 road win at West Covina.
Mira Costa went 7-4 and split the Bay League title last season with Palos Verdes and Redondo Union.
“You know going in Mira Costa will be much improved and they have some real good players,” Bonds said. “That’s a great first game test for our guys.”
St. Francis will make a short trip to Pasadena to face the Bulldogs (2-8 last season) at 7 p.m. Sept. 8. St. Francis posted a 35-0 win last season.
“When you think of Pasadena, you think about them having quite a few athletic players and speed,” Bonds said.
Up next for St. Francis is visiting La Serna (8-4) at 7 p.m. Sept. 15. The Golden Knights picked up a 24-21 win versus the Lancers last season after losing to them in the postseason in 2014 and 2015.
“Beating La Serna was a huge thing for our guys after they beat us in the playoffs,” Bonds said. “We’ve developed a good little rivalry with them the last few years. That’s going to be a good game.”
St. Francis will follow with a pair of road games, starting at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 22 against Saugus (9-3) at College of the Canyons and at 7 p.m. Sept. 29 versus Buena Park (10-2).
St. Francis and Saugus didn’t meet last season. Saugus advanced to the second round of the Division VI playoffs last season after beating fourth-seeded Crescenta Valley.
“Saugus had a nice run last year and they’ve got an excellent coach in Jason Bornn,” said Bonds, whose team defeated Buena Park, 28-19. “They are similar to us athletically.
“Buena Park will have a new coach, but I expect them to be very good again.”
St. Francis will then dive in to league play. All five teams in the Angelus League qualified for the playoffs last season.
The Angelus League combined to go 43-28 in 2016.
“It’s going to be a dogfight again in our league,” Bonds said.
St. Francis will start league at 7 p.m. Oct. 6 against visiting St. Paul (6-7, 2-3). St. Francis picked up a 38-21 win in last season’s tilt.
The Golden Knights will embark on their second two-game road trip with contests against La Salle (7-5, 2-3) at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 and Salesian (7-5, 2-3) at 7 p.m. Oct. 20. St. Francis earned a 38-28 win against La Salle and a 20-13 victory versus Salesian last season.
St. Francis will wrap up the regular season with a pair of home contests against Harvard-Westlake (3-8, 0-5) at 7 p.m. Oct. 26 before taking on defending league champion Cathedral (11-1, 5-0) at 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
The Golden Knights defeated Harvard-Westlake, 49-7, last season and suffered a 24-17 defeat against Cathedral.
“It’s great to be at home for those last two games,” Bonds said. “We’re hoping they will be very meaningful games and with a league title on the line.”