WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Throughout the years, the St. Francis High football team has been very efficient on special teams.
It’s been a part of the program that has helped them contend for league championships and make long postseason runs.
Special teams proved to be a bane for St. Francis, as it struggled throughout to the tune of a 35-21 nonleague defeat at Westlake on Friday.
St. Francis (1-2) gave up two kickoff returns for touchdowns and had a punt blocked for a touchdown. St. Francis tried to come back, but couldn’t catch or pass Westllake (3-0), ranked No. 5 in CIF Southern Section Division II.
After a scoreless first quarter, things began to unravel for St. Francis, which advanced to the Division III championship contest last season.
St. Francis’ Nicholas Boschetti missed a 38-yard field goal attempt with 11:49 left in the second quarter.
Boschetti then had an impressive punt that landed at the Westlake 11-yard line. Westlake’s Jason Heller scooped up the ball and was met at the 15-yard line before breaking loose and reversing across field. Heller ran up the right sideline and then darted across the field for an 89-yard return for a touchdown with 1:46 to go in the first half.
Boschetti, a reigning All-Area pick, then had a punt blocked by Kamren Fabiculanan at the 20-yard line. Teammate William Lyman pounced on the ball and return it 13 yards for a touchdown to make it 14-0 with 1:02 left in the half.
Westlake’s Gabe Floyd scored on a five-yard run to extend the lead to 21-0 with 3:07 left in the third quarter.
St. Francis sliced the deficit to 21-7 on a seven-yard run by quarterback Darius Perrantes, the reigning All-Area Football Player of the Year who missed the previous game against Damien because of illness, with 1:08 to in the third quarter.
St. Francis recovered the onside kick and then got a nine-yard touchdown pass from Perrantes (19 for 40 for 225 yards and two interceptions) to Bryson Reeves with 38.7 seconds left in the quarter to make it 21-14.
The Warriors received another five-yard touchdown run from Floyd to take a 28-14 lead with 8:59 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Perrantes threw interceptions on St. Francis’ next two possessions, but Westlake couldn’t capitalize.
The Golden Knights, who took second in the Angelus League last season, closed to within 28-21 on a nine-yard touchdown pass from Perrantes to Doyle Kane with 3:43 to go.
St. Francis tried an onside kick, but Fabiculanan got a friendly bounce and returned it 65 yards to close out the scoring.
St. Francis will take on visiting Saugus in a nonleague contest at 7 p.m. Friday at Friedman Field.