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Sage Hill football falls to Flintridge Prep, suffers first regular-season loss since 2017

Sage Hill head coach BJ Crabtree looks forward to upcoming season.
Sage Hill coach BJ Crabtree, left, shown in 2018, and his team lost 55-8 to La Cañada Flintridge Prep on Friday, marking the program’s first loss in the regular season since Oct. 6, 2017.
(Don Leach / Staff Photographer)

Sage Hill School won’t finish perfect in the 8-man football regular season for the second straight year.

Two games into 2019, Sage Hill has lost.

Revenge was delivered swiftly and effectively by La Cañada Flintridge Prep in nonleague action Friday night at Sage Hill.

The Rebels opened with a 21-point first quarter and never looked back in a 55-8 pounding of Sage Hill in a rematch of a CIF Southern Section Division 1 first-round playoff game last year won by the Lightning.


“A lot of dudes on this team felt like something was left here last year,” said Flintridge Prep coach Russell White, whose team lost last year’s playoff game 28-26. “When the opportunity came to schedule the game again and come back to their field, there was an excitement in the air and you saw that tonight.”

While Rebels quarterback Max Gitlin did not tally huge statistical yardage, he and receiver Ben Grable put on a scoring clinic as the duo hooked up for three touchdowns.

Gitlin completed 13 of 20 passes for 118 yards and four touchdowns versus one interception, while Grable caught four passes for 18 yards and three scores.

Perhaps the pair’s final touchdown put an exclamation point on a wildly-successful first half as Gitlin hit Grable on a six-yard out which, after a successful point-after from Silas Chavez, put the Rebels (2-0) ahead 38-0.


The game slipped away quickly from Sage Hill, which went 9-0 in the regular season in 2018.

After a three-and-out on its first possession, Sage Hill’s first punt was returned 44 yards for a touchdown by Tommy Porter, who limped off the field.

Two plays later, Sage Hill (1-1) fumbled and Flintridge Prep’s Kevin Ashworth recovered at the opponent’s 15-yard line. The turnover was converted into points as Gitlin hooked up with Grable on a one-yard touchdown as the Rebels went up 14-0.

Flintridge Prep’s Zach Kim then blocked a punt on Sage Hill’s next possession, which was recovered by teammate Matt Son at the Lightning 26 with 4:34 left in the first quarter.

That gaffe again turned into points as Gitlin slipped a six-yard touchdown pass to Grable with 2:35 left in the first quarter that gave the visitors a 21-0 advantage.

“We just have to reassess after tonight,” said Sage Hill coach BJ Crabtree, whose team lost its first game in the regular season since Oct. 6, 2017. “We just have to fight. The kids want to fight, but they have to learn to stay in the fight longer.”

The Lightning look to defend the Express League championship and make a run in the CIF Southern Section 8-man Division 1 playoffs.

Flintridge Prep added a two-yard touchdown run from Germaine Harvey and a 44-yard field goal from Chavez to account for its first-half scoring.


In the second half, the Rebels added two touchdowns from McCormick (five receptions for 42 yards), who caught a one-yard pass from Gitlin before returning an interception 20 yards for a score.

Chavez also added a 24-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.

Flintridge Prep’s Alex Payne led his team in rushing with 17 carries for 101 yards.

“We’ve been working hard all summer with last year in the back of our heads,” Grable said. “I’m not really surprised with the score. We wanted this.”

Sage Hill had a few highlights, including when Benjamin Romeo intercepted Gitlin with 8:48 left in third quarter.

The turnover set up Sage Hill’s lone score as quarterback Van Freund, who completed nine of 30 passes for 160 yards and two interceptions, delivered a gorgeous 38-yard touchdown pass to Christopher Karahalios (three catches for 53 yards) at the 7:08 mark in the third quarter. Sage Hill converted a two-point conversion and trailed 38-8.

Romeo also finished with three catches for a game-high 84 yards.



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