Nitros hope familiar foe yields a victory

GLENDALE — The following are previews of the area's upcoming high school football games this week.

Like Hoover High and Flintridge Prep heading into this week, Glendale's football team is still searching for its first win of the season.

Unfortunately for the Nitros and their faithful, it's a familiar situation.

Last season, Glendale began its 2009 campaign 0-2 before its nonleague finale against South Pasadena.

And once more, the Nitros are hoping that first win comes at the expense of the Tigers, who play host to Glendale on Friday at 7 p.m. at South Pasadena High.

"They are a much improved football team, they are 2-0," said Glendale second-year Coach Alan Eberhart of South Pasadena at Tuesday's Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club. "That was the game that we won last year. We told our kids we are now one calendar year [removed] from our last win and it would be really nice to get another one."

Glendale's lone win a season ago was a 28-21 triumph over South Pasadena. It's currently on a nine-game losing streak.

With a closer-than-expected 21-10 loss to Cathedral in the first week a sign of an improved Glendale squad, last week's 40-17 loss to La Cañada was an admitted step back for the Nitros and Friday is clearly a big game in terms of improvement and positive momentum heading into Pacific League play.

"We now are going back to words like 'improve,' we're going back to words like 'we've gotta get better' and we're getting back again to the fundamentals of blocking and tackling," Eberhart said. "We thought we were onto something. Our kids are in good spirits, it's still early in the year. We've played one good one and one not so good one."

The biggest highlight against La Cañada was quarterback Alex Yoon, who ran for a game-high 156 yards and also threw a touchdown pass to Linden Anderson. However, four turnovers and shoddy tackling hassled the Nitros all night.

"Our kids had to decide either you step up or you step back and, unfortunately, we took the latter approach and La Cañada really ran all over us," Eberhart said. "They really didn't have the answer for [Yoon]. We had the answer in that every time we did something good we would fumble it three times or throw an interception."

South Pasadena held on last week for a 31-25 win over Hoover, another team the Tigers lost to a season ago. While the Tigers have passed a bit, their offense has shown a run-heavy approach with four different backs having tallied 75 yards or more.

Flintridge Prep at Campbell Hall (3 p.m., Friday): The Rebels begin a full Friday slate of games with a matinee that could provide them with their stiffest test yet.

Despite owning second-half leads in each of their first two games, the Rebels, seemingly improved from last season despite their record, have been unable to shake off second-half woes, capped by allowing 40 points in the final 24 minutes of a 46-20 loss a week ago to Grace Brethren.

Campbell Hall, meanwhile, has posted impressive wins of 26-3 over Antelope Valley and 39-26 in the second week against Villanova Prep. The latter wasn't as close as the score, as the Vikings owned a 26-6 halftime edge.

A pass-happy offense has keyed the Vikings, as quarterback RJ Gordon has thrown for seven touchdowns and 729 yards. Gordon leads Campbell Hall into a game in which it is a 35-point favorite, according to calpreps.com.

Offensively for the Rebels, quarterback Kyle McDonald has seemingly locked up the starting spot with a pair of touchdown passes in each of the first two games, while Eric Kazangian has also run for a touchdown in each of Prep's games.

Nonetheless, it would seem as if the key to Friday's outing will be the Prep defense's ability to keep Campbell Hall's high-flying offense grounded, something it was unable to do last week against Grace Brethren.

Crescenta Valley vs. La Cañada at Moyse Field (7 p.m., Friday): On the heels of a 42-14 loss to St. Francis, their ninth in a row in the rivalry, the Falcons look to win their fourth straight game in their cross-town rivalry with the Spartans.

La Cañada has surprised a few with a 2-0 start, including last week's 40-17 win over Glendale.

While the Falcons (1-1) were faced with a St. Francis offense that runs spread and double tight end formations with different personnel packages, La Cañada offered up a far more straight-ahead approach of a basic running game to defeat Glendale. Thus, CV, which offered up 4-6 and three-man fronts last week, could have a bit less to worry about.

The Falcons, who won last year's matchup, 38-35, face a Spartans squad that has thrown the ball just 20 times in two games and is led by running back Daleep Sandhu, who's scored three touchdowns and rushed for 216 yards in 37 carries.

Meanwhile, La Cañada must prepare for a spread offense by the Falcons that used trick plays for its two biggest gains last week. But while the offense, led by quarterback Zac Wilkerson, and the defense, led by linebacker Bryan Luna, both had their struggles last week for the Falcons, the kicking game is likely to look to improve the most. Punting, in particular, gave CV fits and set St. Francis up with stellar field position.

Hoover at Mountain View at South El Monte High (Friday, 7 p.m.): Hoover, after an improved 2009 campaign, is clearly still improving, though the 0-2 mark it has started the season with doesn't exactly show it.

Indeed, it is how Hoover has started that has been its biggest obstacle, as it has lost both of its games by one-possession margins, but fell behind early in both, as well.

It faces a Mountain View squad (1-1) that lost to Sierra Vista, 10-7, last week, the same Sierra Vista squad that bested Hoover, 35-27, during the first week of the season.

Mountain View's scored just 26 combined points in its first two games, while the Tornadoes offense, in contrast, has begun to come into its own and has averaged 26 points over its two games.

Tornadoes quarterback AJ Pule and receiver Jesse Pina have been catalysts. Pule has thrown for 632 yards and also leads the team in rushing with 131 yards. He's scored six total touchdowns. Pina has 339 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns.

Mountain View, on the opposite end of the spectrum, has completed just four of 10 passes in two games with two quarterbacks. Its offense is keyed by running back Josymar Ulloa, who's tallied a pair of scores and 350 yards on the ground over two games.

Mountain View opened the season with a 19-13 win over Bassett that halted a 15-game losing streak.

St. Francis vs. Venice (7:30 p.m., Friday): In the week's most high-profile tilt, the Golden Knights, ranked fourth in the CIF Southern Section Western Division, will face a City Section squad for the first time in a long time, while the Gondoliers will take the field against their third Mission League opponent this season.

Venice (1-2) is coming off a 37-30 loss, its second in a row, to Chaminade last week, while St. Francis (2-0) cruised past Crescenta Valley, 42-14.

Venice, which defeated Harvard-Westlake in its first game, 47-16, allowed five rushing touchdowns a week ago, while the Golden Knights were led by quarterback Brett Nelson's three touchdown passes, as he now has six through two games.

Nonetheless, with the running game of Michael Melnick and Austin De Los Santos, St. Francis — which has passed for 337 yards and rushed for 419 — has shown itself to be a balanced offense in wins against Arcadia and CV, but this week will most assuredly be a lofty step up in competition and a possible gauge of future league success.

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