Falcons, Nitros await showdown

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

Pacific League football might be kicking off this week, but for some teams it's already likely make-or-break time.

When Crescenta Valley High and Glendale square off on Friday evening at 7 at Moyse Field, it is likely one of those such occasions.

"This is one of the ones that we feel that we have to win," Falcons Coach Paul Schilling said. "This is a game we feel we should win."

The Falcons (2-1) have advanced to the postseason the last two seasons, but with a squad full of new faces, many are predicting it could be a struggle to once more climb into the league's top four spots and earn an automatic playoff berth. Thus, a win over the Nitros (0-3), who have lost 10 in a row, but have seemingly improved drastically from last season, is a likely must if CV is to make the playoffs again.

Glendale has surprised some and besides a lopsided loss to La Cañada in the second week, has been close to victory in its other two games.

"We've definitely improved," said Glendale Coach Alan Eberhart, a longtime former Falcons coach. "We're competitive, we can play. But we still make mistakes.

"We're in the game, but it's that breakthrough, big moment [that we're missing]. Somebody's gotta step up and make a big play."

Schilling, for one, is hoping this isn't the week that happens.

"We're afraid that this might be the game that they figure it out," Schilling said.

Schilling didn't mince words in saying that the Marro Lee-led running game will be a focal point, as it led the Falcons to a win last week over La Cañada. On top of that, Glendale has struggled mightily with its run defense.

"We'll run it and then we'll play-action," Schilling said.

Quarterback Alex Yoon has led the Nitros rushing attack, but Eberhart believes others must step up. More than anything, though, he believes a victory will come down to turnovers.

"[The Falcons] do some good things, but they have a tendency to make some mistakes, too," Eberhart said. "We can't make mistakes. It's gonna come down [to being] simple, don't make mistakes.

"When you're trying to have a breakthrough win, you have to play your best game. …We have a chance. When a team's lost 10 in a row, that's all you can ask for."

Hoover vs. Burroughs at Moyse Field (7 p.m. today): The Tornadoes are flying high after notching their first win of the season last week, 45-38, over host Mountain View.

Now, they must open Pacific League play against a defending league co-champion Indians squad that is coming off last week's bye with a deceiving 0-3 record.

Burroughs, which scheduled all of its nonleague games on the road because of a proposed renovation to Memorial Field, went winless on it's Foothill League reunion tour that included stops at Saugus, Canyon Country Canyon and Hart, the latter two of which are ranked sixth and 10th, respectively, in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division.

But the Indians have thrived in the Pacific League since coming over from the Foothill League in 2006, going 22-6 with four one-sided wins over Hoover (1-2).

If the Tornadoes are to buck that trend tonight, it will likely take another huge game from quarterback AJ Pule, who passed for five touchdowns and rushed for two more against Mountain View.

But the game will mostly test the Tornadoes' defensive improvement, as Hoover allowed 521 yards of total offense in last year's 45-7 loss.

St. Francis at West Ranch at Valencia High (7 p.m. Friday): The Golden Knights' season really began to kick into high gear with a solid 31-13 win over highly-regarded City Section opponent Venice last week.

St. Francis (3-0), which is ranked No. 4 in the Western Division, would like nothing more than to keep rolling against the Wildcats (2-2) before the schedule really gets tough with an epic road trip, a clash with the top-ranked team in the division and, of course, the gauntlet of Mission League play.

In only the fifth year of its program's existence, West Ranch is coming off a 24-20 loss to Silverado and figures to be tested heavily by St. Francis' defense, which forced four turnovers against the Gondoliers.

The Golden Knights' offense is finding a rhythm, as well, with quarterback Brett Nelson tossing three touchdown passes and Travis Talianko racking up 105 receiving yards last week.

Flintridge Prep vs. Malibu at Occidental College (Friday 7 p.m.): Last season, the Rebels didn't get their first win until the fourth week of the season against the Sharks.

They're no doubt hoping for history to repeat itself, as they are once again mired in an 0-3 start looking for a bounce before heading into Prep League play.

Another thing in Prep's favor is the nighttime setting. In its 33-14 loss to Campbell Hall on Friday afternoon, the team was ravaged by the heat, with several players sitting out the second half to rehydrate.

But injuries to the offensive line may be a bigger factor. With half of the staring unit sidelined last week, the Rebels were able to muster little in the way of pass protection, or much offense in general, aside from Eric Kazangian's 100 yards on the ground.

Malibu (1-3) is coming off back-to-back losses, including a 39-14 loss to Bellarmine-Jefferson last week, but does have a win over Prep's league rival Pasadena Poly to its credit.

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