Game of the Week: New era begins for Flintridge Prep football

There's a certain enthusiasm that goes into the opening week of the football season that is unparalleled.

Months of spring practices, summer passing leagues and lifting give way to actual games, hard-hitting action and wins and losses.

Though not all area teams kick off their season Friday evening, some will, leading with Flintridge Prep. The Rebels will travel to face Van Nuys Fulton Prep on Friday at 7 p.m. after going 3-7 in 2015.

It's a bold new world for Flintridge Prep, which is changing back from 11-man football to the eight-player variety for the first time this century. Flintridge Prep is dropping out of the Prep League, a league it helped create, and will be playing freelance football along with breaking in a new quarterback and a new coach Friday night.

With so many distractions, the thought of an actual game provides relief for new coach Russell White.

"I've been ready for the games to start since back in April," White said. "It's always great to play that first game, to get some of the bugs out and see what your guys can do."

White was concerned with his team's ability, but was relieved to see the squad play with discipline in a scrimmage the previous Friday against Laguna Blanca.

"I was a little worried before the scrimmage, but afterward, my mind changed," White said. "I was impressed with the team camaraderie and great play. There were guys stepping up all over the place. I think we're ready."

White will break in a new quarterback for the first time in four years in sophomore John Lytle. White said that although his team takes a high-flying approach, that the offense will give Lytle some time to ease in.

The Rebels will face a tough opening task in Fulton Prep, which finished 7-4 last season and lost in the title game of the Los Angeles City Section eight-man championship. The Jaguars have won six straight home games dating back to 2014.

Wilson at Hoover at Moyse Field, 7 p.m on Friday: For the first time since 2009, Hoover wrested away the "Victory Bell" from archrival Glendale.

With that 41-14 victory, the Tornadoes have also put themselves in place to pick up consecutive victories with a win on Friday for the first time since 2013 when Hoover opened the season with a win over Blair before a forfeit victory against Sotomayor due to an ineligible player. The Tornadoes' last winning streak on the field came in 2012 with victories in zero week against Blair and then a win in week one over South Pasadena.

Bolstered by the returns of senior quarterback-turned-running back Quinton Smith and senior tight end/linebacker Chris White, the Tornadoes will host a Hacienda Heights Wilson team that went 2-8 last season. It will begin a nonleague slate in which Hoover could build some momentum as it plays a trio of teams that combined to go 4-25 a year ago.

Wilson will enter the season on a six-game losing skid.

Glendale at Cantwell-Sacred Heart, 7 p.m. on Friday: A trip to Montebello kicks off the second season under coach George Maiale for the Nitros.

Coming off a 1-9 season, Glendale is in great need for a win as it brings a nine-game losing streak into the 2016 season.

The good news for the Nitros, though, is that they face a new team on their schedule in Cantwell-Sacred Heart that is likewise on the heels of a 1-9 season and brings a four-game losing skid into the campaign.

Under first-year coach Travis Brown, the Cardinals face a Nitros program that opened its season last year with a 27-17 win at San Gabriel for its third straight opening-week win, all of them coming against San Gabriel.