After traveling more than 400 miles in its first three games, which included an overnight trip to Carlsbad and a trek to Ojai, the Flintridge Prep football team will finally open 2012 at home against Malibu High Friday night at Occidental College.
While the Rebels lost their first two games by a total of five points, they didn't return home empty handed after they defeated Villanova Prep, 48-8, Saturday to improve to 1-2 this season.
"The boys definitely needed that [win] to carry the momentum into our first home game," Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison said. "I am hoping that we can take that into this week's game and keep building on it."
Malibu will also enters Friday with a 1-2 record after playing two other Prep League opponents this season. The Sharks fell to St. Monica in their opener, 20-12, before defeating Chadwick, 32-29, and most recently falling to Pasadena Poly, 22-19.
The Sharks have gone 2-1-1 against Prep since 2008. In Harrison's first year as the Rebels head coach in 2012, Prep and Malibu played to a tie. Last year the Rebels fell to the Sharks, 49-0, as they were overcome by injuries.
"Last year [against Malibu] we lost Clayton Weirick and Stefan Smith in the first quarter — our starting quarterback and starting running back and backup quarterback," Harrison said. "We haven't really had a true game with Malibu since that tie."
The Rebels are expected to enter Friday's game at full strength with the return of receiver Kareem Ismail from a sprained ankle.
"We get Kareem back to help us in the passing game, which we are going to need to establish more now moving forward," said Harrison after Weirick attempted two passes in the win over Villanova Prep.
Flintridge Prep has had plenty of success running the ball. The Rebels racked up 291 yards of offense against the Wildcats with 108 coming from Smith, who has 251 yards and three touchdowns this year, and 73 from Kurt Kozacik.
"We are excited with what our offense has been able to do. … I think our guys are used to the wing-T system and our line is a pretty veteran line and they've been busting their butts," Harrison said of his team's success running the ball. "They know for us to establish dominance we have to establish the run."
St. Francis vs. West Ranch at Valencia High, 7 p.m. Friday: A fumble in the waning minutes last Friday ended the Golden Knights chances to start the season 3-0, as the turnover secured La Mirada's 28-21 home victory over St. Francis.
St. Francis continues its three-game road trip, as it travels to Valencia High to take on West Ranch after defeating a tough Righetti squad, 29-22, and just falling to the Matadores.
Jared Lebowitz will look to have another big week under center for the Knights after he completed 17 of 27 passes for 239 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while Tommy Scheper hauled in five passes for 92 yards, last week. Lebowitz also ran for 68 yards in the road loss.
Defensive back Joey Velladao also had a big game for St. Francis last week, as he recorded 21 tackles (15 solo) at La Mirada.
The Wildcats are 1-3 to this point with their lone win coming against Burbank, 28-7. They are on a two-game losing streak after falling to Eastside, 24-14, and Thousand Oaks, 28-10.
Eagle Rock at La Cañada, 7 p.m. Friday: The Spartans will look to get their offense rolling, as they return home to host the Eagles.
La Cañada hasn't been able to run with much success in its past two games, as it ran for 77 yards in a 48-21 loss to Crescenta Valley last Friday and for 70 yards in a 21-3 loss to Glendale, after it tallied 277 rushing yards in its season-opening 17-7 win over Alhambra.
Andy Paynter remains the focal point in La Cañada's backfield. He ran for 49 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown, on 10 carries against CV. He has yet to run for more than 50 yards, though, after he racked up 159 yards against the Moors.
The Spartans' struggles running the ball gave them a chance to briefly showcase their spread offense against the Falcons. La Cañada quarterback Matt Jones completed four of 10 passes for 66 yards, a touchdown and interception with wide receiver Ryan Martin hauling in a 41-yard score in the loss.
Eagle Rock is 1-4 with its victory coming against Los Angeles High, 52-0, in its season opener. The Eagles have since lost to San Marino (30-14), Ontario Christian (27-15) and Aquinas (35-31) on Friday.