Falcons, Tornadoes square off

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

While it's not quite the "Battle for the Victory Bell," the annual Pacific League meeting between the football teams from Hoover High and Crescenta Valley is still an age-old area rivalry.

At 7 p.m. at Moyse Field on Friday, it will hold plenty of significance in the moment, as well, for both the host Falcons (3-1, 1-0 in league), who are looking for a more convincing victory than their league-opening win over Glendale in order to establish themselves as a contender, and a Tornadoes squad earnestly hoping to avoid an 0-2 start in league.

"We feel it's a big challenge and we definitely want to play well because it's our homecoming game," said Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling, whose team posted a 35-14 win over Glendale at Moyse on Friday, but played likely its most uninspired 24 minutes of football to this point in the season to open the game, allowing the winless Nitros to hang around into the second half.

The Tornadoes (1-3, 0-1) are coming off a 57-13 loss to league co-champion Burroughs at Moyse Field last Thursday in which their defense was stretched to the breaking point by the Indians' rushing game.

"We watched the film on Friday and we saw our mistakes and they understand the score should have been a lot closer than it was," Hoover Coach Chris Long said. "We're excited overall for CV."

Both coaches believe this game will come down to exploiting the other's weakness. For Hoover that would be stopping the run, while Schilling admits his own squad's Achilles heel is defending against the passing game.

Long said the Glendale game was an eye opener for him as far as the difference in the Falcons' offensive focus this season.

"The previous year they always seemed to throw the ball a lot and try to spread everybody out and do a lot of motion and stuff," Long said. "This year they're running the ball a lot more, so it's definitely a different offense than I was expecting."

The Hoover defense will have to shore up its tackling and keep the Falcons, who were led by 135 yards on the ground from Marro Lee against Glendale, from breaking large gains.

"We aren't playing the run that well, so of course [Schilling] would change his offense to the running offense," Long said. "The kids know we need to get better at it."

Hoover's passing game, led by quarterback AJ Pule, has shown itself to be more than capable of putting up points this season, which certainly got Schilling's attention.

"[It will be a] big challenge for our coverage," Schilling said. "We haven't pass covered very well and they do a great job throwing the ball. Sometimes their record doesn't show it, but they can score a lot of points."

Schilling said the play of defensive backs Levi Walker, Tyler Martinez, Nico Domingo and Alec Traber will be a major key to the game.

Glendale vs. Burbank (today, 7 p.m.): The search continues for Glendale, winless in its last 11 games, for its first taste of victory in 2010.

And against Burbank (3-1), the second-ranked team in CIF Southern Section Southeast Division, notching the season's first win will be a tall task.

The Bulldogs, reigning co-league champions, are coming off a huge 22-19 win at Muir, while Glendale hung tough for the first half with Crescenta Valley, but sputtered to a 35-14 loss.

Burbank is led by running back Ulisies Ochoa, who's run 74 times for 534 yards and eight scores and has averaged better than 130 yards a game, which doesn't bode well for a Nitros defense that has struggled against the running game. Defensively, linebacker Ryan Seidler is averaging 15 tackles a game.

Glendale will once more likely rely on a rushing attack led by quarterback Alex Yoon, but perhaps more prevalent than anything is the Nitros' need to cut down on miscues and turnovers. Glendale was tied at 7 with CV at halftime, but a crucial miscue on a punt led to a CV surge. In earlier games with Cathedral and South Pasadena, the Nitros were also in position for possible wins, but let close games slip through their grasp.

St. Francis at Paso Robles (Friday, 7 p.m.): It's likely that the Golden Knights (3-1) want to put last week's 35-34 upset loss to West Ranch behind them, but they'll have plenty of time to think about it on their journey north roughly 200 miles to play the Bearcats (2-2).

The clash of squads in the CIF Southern Section Western Division, in which St. Francis is ranked fifth, will be the Golden Knights' longest road trip in some time and will come on the heels of a loss in which St. Francis never got going until a 20-point fourth quarter that ended with a missed two-point conversion attempt.

The game saw arguably the best and worst performance of the season by quarterback Brett Nelson, who threw an uncharacteristic three interceptions, but also completed 20 of 34 passes for 411 yards and five touchdowns. On the season, Nelson has thrown for 14 touchdowns to six interceptions and has passed for 971 yards.

While the offense had its struggles last week, though, a porous defensive effort was also problematic, as West Ranch had success with both the run and pass in tallying more than 500 total yards.

The Wildcats, who defeated San Luis Obispo, 41-21, last week, have a balanced attack, as well.

Quarterback Jacob Searcy has completed 68% of his passes for 718 yards and 10 touchdowns to just two interceptions. Nine of those touchdowns have gone to receiver Elias Stokes, who has 20 catches for 391 yards.

Running back Jesse Felgenhauer has carried 86 times for 459 yards, but the Bearcats have just four rushing scores as a team, with Stokes tallying two of them.

It will no doubt be a long day for the Knights, who are scheduled to leave St. Francis High at noon for the game. Whether or not it will be another long night remains to be seen. Calpreps.com predicts St. Francis will win by a slim 35-31 margin.

Flintridge Prep on bye week: Coming off a 14-14 tie against Malibu last week, the Rebels (0-3-1) get a week off to prepare for the start of Prep League play on Oct. 15, when they will host Chadwick at Occidental College at 7 p.m.

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