Los Angeles Times

Tornadoes set for Rams

The following are previews of the area's upcoming high school football games this week.

With the Hoover High football team having won its first two games of the season for the first time since 2005, second-year Tornadoes Coach Andrew Policky said he was surprised to find out the last time Hoover opened a season with three victories in a row was 1958.

“I was shocked because I thought the program had done that before back in the 60s or 70s,” said Policky, whose team will face visiting Temple City in a nonleague game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Glendale High’s Moyse Field. “We are excited about trying to go 3-0.”

Hoover opened its season with nonleague road wins against Blair and South Pasadena. In that stretch, the Tornadoes have used their wing-T offense to average 39.5 points per game.

Leading the charge for the Tornadoes has been running back Jesse Pina, who was dismissed from the team last season because of disciplinary issues. Pina scored a career-high five touchdowns to lead Hoover to a 33-28 win against South Pasadena on Friday. He finished with 228 yards of total offense, including 169 on the ground in 17 rushes.

“He’s been our horse, and he’s shown that he can bounce back,” Policky said. “I think we now have a team that’s buying into our system and they are doing a much better job tackling.

“They are doing things right and it helps out having a full offseason with them in finding ways to get better.”

Having gotten significantly better with their tackling, the Tornadoes will look to continue that trend against Temple City (0-3).

The Rams have suffered shutout losses against La Salle, Arroyo and Alhambra. Moving the ball has been problematic for the Rams, who mustered only three first downs in a 27-0 loss against Alhambra on Friday.

Policky said the Tornadoes need to guard against a letdown against the Rams.

“I’ve seen them on film and they aren’t bad,” Policky said. “They are pretty good defensively, but they are just having some trouble on offense.

“We know we will have to get off to a good start. We don’t want to give Temple City anything to get excited about.”

St. Francis at La Mirada, 7 p.m. Friday: After opening with nonleague wins against Arcadia and Righetti, the Golden Knights figure to face their toughest test in La Mirada (2-1). Both teams are ranked in their respective division polls. St. Francis is ranked fourth in the Western Division, while La Mirada is second in the Southeast Division.

St. Francis got another quality performance from quarterback Jared Lebowitz, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns, against Righetti on Friday. Lebowitz’ main target was Joe Mudie, who caught a pair of second-half touchdowns. Mudie finished with six catches for 96 yards.

The Matadores will face a Mission League foe for the second time this season. They began their season with a 55-28 win against St. Paul. La Mirada followed with a 45-27 win against La Habra before suffering a 34-24 loss against Bishop Amat on Friday. The Matadores, who shared the Suburban League championship last season, present a high-profile offense averaging 42 points per game this season.

La Mirada will turn to quarterback Gerry Myres, who completed 22 of 38 passes for 234 yards against Bishop Amat.

La Cañada vs. Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field, 7 p.m. Friday: Crescenta Valley will make its home debut after splitting a pair of nonleague road contests against Santa Paula and San Marino. The Falcons suffered a 27-7 loss against San Marino on Friday, though wide receiver Jack Lutynski caught six passes for 82 yards. La Cañada (1-1) was handed a 21-3 nonleague defeat by Glendale on Friday. Spartans running back Andy Paynter rushed for a team-best 50 yards.

In last season’s meeting at La Cañada, the Falcons posted a 34-14 victory.

The Falcons have owned the rivalry of late, having won five meetings in a row while averaging 33.8 points per game. The Spartans last defeated the Falcons on Sept. 8, 2006, when they registered a 14-8 victory.

The game is the third annual Gordy Warnock Memorial Game, named after former longtime head and assistant Falcons coach Gordy Warnock, who died in 2010 in the same week of the traditional rivalry game with La Cañada. Warnock, who led CV to its only CIF championship in 1973, was 79 when he died.

Glendale at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. Friday: Glendale (1-1) will look to win two games in a row for the first time since 2008, when it recorded back-to-back Pacific League victories against Burbank and Pasadena. Fresh off beating host La Cañada, 21-3, on Friday, the Nitros will meet a member of the Rio Hondo League for the second straight week in South Pasadena, which fell, 33-28, to Hoover on Friday.

Glendale has lost four of its previous six meetings against the Tigers, including a 49-21 loss at home last season. Glendale last beat South Pasadena, 49-21, in 2009.

The Nitros will turn to explosive wide receiver Michael Davis. The Brigham Young University-bound Davis caught six passes for 127 yards against La Cañada. Nitros quarterback Kevin Feliz completed nine of 12 passes for 144 yards and a pair of touchdowns to turn back La Cañada.

After opening its season with a nonleague road win against San Gabriel, the Tigers fell to Hoover. South Pasadena (1-1) received a 73-yard punt return by Nathan Lee for a touchdown.

Flintridge Prep at Villanova Prep, 10 a.m. Saturday: It’s been a tough start to the year for the Flintridge Prep football team, but the Rebels will look to get in the win column against a Villanova Prep team that’s going through what’s plagued the Rebels this and last season.

The Wildcats, who host Prep Saturday at 10 a.m., are 0-3 this season and were forced to forfeit their game with Santa Clarita Christian Saturday when injuries depleted a team that entered 2012 with a 27-player roster. Villanova Prep lost the first two games it played against Ribet Academy, 59-0, and Southlands Christian, 30-13, according to MaxPreps.com.

It’s something Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison can relate to after the Rebels were forced to forfeit two games last year when their small roster was hit hard with injuries.

“Villanova Prep is going through the situation we’re going through with small numbers and injuries,” Harrison said.

Prep is 0-2 to start the season but could easily be 2-0, as Harrison said his team beat itself in both games. The Rebels lost three fumbles in a 19-16 loss to Heritage Christian Saturday and saw a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead disappear against Army-Navy in overtime, 32-30.

“We should be 2-0,” Harrison said. “They make for interesting coaches meetings because we go up to take a look at our scheme, but it’s working. It’s just if we don’t fumble here, blow a coverage here or jump offsides here we win the game. The good news is the boys are competing, we’ve lost two games by a total of five points so there’s a lot of good things to be taken out of those two games. We just need to put it all together for a whole four quarters to see a win.”

Flintridge Prep’s rushing attack has been dangerous each game, as running backs Stefan Smith and Kurt Kozacik have each had a big game already. Smith ran for 123 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries against Heritage Christian, while Kozacik had two scores and 251 yards in 21 carries against Army-Navy.

In both games, the Rebels have started strong, but slowed in the fourth quarter when their starters started cramping up and needed to take plays off. The heat hasn’t helped, as Prep has played both games in the mid-afternoon through high temperatures.

“One of the things we’re doing is we seem to have a problem when two or three of our starters go down and now we have guys in positions they’ve never played before,” Harrison said. “So all this week in practice we are subbing and rotating goes in as if somebody goes down to prepare for that.”

Harrison also worked with Villanova Prep to move this week’s game to 10 a.m. to keep the game out of the heat as much as possible.

“My thing with them is because I went through what they’re going through last year that I want to be sure not just our players but their players are all protected,” Harrison said. “We’re out there to play football, keep everybody safe and healthy, come out with a victory and hopefully everybody leaves with their rosters still intact.”

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