GLENDALE — The following are previews of the area’s upcoming high school football games.
As the second-to-last game of the regular season, Friday night’s 7 p.m. Prep League football game between Flintridge Prep and host Rio Hondo Prep figured to be a season-defining game for both squads from the moment the 2007 schedule was released.
Few likely expected a showdown of this magnitude, however, as both teams enter the contest 3-0 in league with the winner guaranteed no less than a share of the league title.
“We have a shot now at doing something really, really special and [the players] understand that,” said first-year Rebels Coach Perry Skaggs, who is trying to lead Flintridge Prep back to a league crown for the first time since 2002. “A Prep League championship would be just amazing for this squad, so they’re dialed in, ready to go and they’re working hard.”
Flintridge Prep (6-1) put itself in position to clinch the title this week with an impressive 45-34 road win on Saturday over Chadwick, a team many had pegged as the team to beat in the Prep League.
Longtime Rio Hondo Prep Coach Ken Drain counted himself among those.
“When Flintridge beat [Chadwick], it was kind of a shocker,” Drain said. “That put all the focus on this week now for us.
“It’s going to be a big game, and we’re excited about it.”
Both teams have staked their offense to the running game, with good results.
Flintridge Prep has honed a three-headed rushing attack between Adam Ross, Ian Sander and Joel Bryant, each of whom brings a different skill set and change of pace.
Just as important to the ground game for the Rebels, who are ranked ninth in the CIF Southern Section East Valley Division, has been its senior-laden offensive line.
“They run that [Wing T offense] and they run it really well,” Drain said. “That always gives us fits, so we’ll see what we can do about stopping that.
“But, they’ve got pretty good size up front and their running backs seem to be doing really well.”
Rio Hondo Prep (3-4) counters with senior running back Trevor Finchamp, who rushed for 130 yards in a 33-3 win over Prep last season.
“He tore us apart last year and he’s an even better back this year as a senior,” Skaggs said of Finchamp, who has rushed for 591 yards in six games this season. “We want to keep him running between the tackles, because if he gets loose on the perimeter, he can be really dangerous.
“Both of us are in the same boat — we’re gonna try to ram it down each other’s throat. The game might hinge on who throws better, quite frankly.”
Hoover vs. Burbank at Moyse Field (7 p.m. today): With an 0-5 record in the Pacific League and the playoffs out of reach, all the Tornadoes (0-8) can hope to do this week is play spoiler for a Bulldogs team making a late push for a playoff berth.
Given Hoover’s protracted struggles this year, that would seem to be a highly unlikely outcome.
Following an 0-5 start to the campaign, Burbank (2-6, 2-3 in league) has won two of its last three, including a 38-24 win against Glendale last week.
Hoover is coming off a 43-14 loss to Crescenta Valley last week and lost to Burbank 61-0 a year ago.
Crescenta Valley vs. Muir at Moyse Field (7 p.m. Friday): With the Mustangs closing in on a Pacific League title and the Falcons in a tight battle for the league’s final playoff berth, there is much on the line for both teams.
Crescenta Valley (5-3, 3-2) is currently in fourth place, but must hold off a challenge from fifth-place Burbank over the last two weeks of the season.
But, while the Bulldogs meet two teams with one league win between them in Hoover and Burroughs, the Falcons must hold their ground against the top teams in league.
Muir (6-2, 5-0), ranked ninth in the Central Division, claimed its spot atop the standings by defeating second-place Arcadia, the Falcons season-finale opponent, last week.
Crescenta Valley has relied on its strong defense all year, but that unit may face its greatest test yet in the speedy Mustangs.
Ryan Eberhart and K.J. Kussman combined for over 300 rushing yards for the Falcons in last week’s 43-14 win over Hoover.
Glendale vs. Pasadena at Temple City High (7 p.m. Friday): Behind junior quarterback Arturo Garcia, the Nitros (0-8, 0-5) have been close in their past two Pacific League contests.
In their favor this week is the fact that third-place Pasadena (5-3, 4-1) will take the field just four days removed from its last game, a narrow 28-27 win at Burroughs.
If Glendale’s defense can limit the Bulldogs’ key senior playmakers and the offense continues to improve at its current pace, the Nitros could be primed for a big late-season upset.
St. Francis at Chaminade (7:30 p.m. Friday): The Golden Knights reversed a three-game losing streak and injected a shot of life into their up-and-down season with last week’s 17-10 win over fourth-ranked Alemany (Western Division) to open Mission League play.
An equally tough league and divisional opponent awaits this week in the fifth-ranked Eagles (5-3, 0-1).
A St. Francis win combined with a St. Paul victory over Alemany on Friday would set up a showdown between the Golden Knights and the Swordsmen next week for the league title.
Should St. Francis win Friday and the Swordsmen lose, the Golden Knights will clinch at least a share of the Mission League title.
GABRIEL RIZK covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3226 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.