GLENDALE — The following are previews of the area's upcoming high school football games this week.
With a win likely mandatory to stay in playoff contention and the Rebels' biggest rival standing in the way, there figures to be no shortage of motivation for the Flintridge Prep football team this week.
The annual grudge match with Pasadena Poly at 7 p.m. Friday at South Pasadena High carries some additional urgency this season, as the Rebels are still in search of their first win, and more importantly, desperately seeking a foothold in the Prep League as one of three winless teams sharing last place.
"We basically have to win out our last three games and then have some crazy stuff happen to even have a possibility of making playoffs," first-year Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison said. "I was hoping our season wouldn't boil down to this, but basically this one and the next two are a must-win.
"We've made some adjustments in practice and we're hoping the boys come out and realize that, especially for these seniors, this is their last chance to do something in order to make the playoffs and also their last chance to play their school rival."
A tough Oct. 15 loss to Chadwick, in which the Rebels (0-5-1, 0-2 in league) led late in the fourth quarter, followed by last week's blowout loss to Rio Hondo Prep that they were never in, has put Prep in an 0-2 hole in league. Conversely, The Panthers (5-2), who are ranked seventh in the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division, come in at 2-0 after opening against the soft underbelly of the league in Viewpoint and Webb, who are both 0-2.
Leading the Panthers' offensive attack is senior running back Blake Edwards, who is dual threat out of the backfield with team-highs in rushing yards with 828 and receiving yards with 464. He also leads the team with 15 total touchdowns.
"The only way, I think, that you can stop a guy like that is you gotta go right after him." Harrison said. "From the opening whistle, you have to be on him all game so that you wear him down, tire him out and make it so he just doesn't want the ball anymore."
Poly's defense has also been solid, averaging just 11.7 points allowed per contest in its last three outings.
"Our concern is stopping those guys on their defensive line from getting after the quarterback," Harrison said.
Prep has had moments this season where it's shown the ability to manage games well and control the possession battle with its running game and the play of quarterback Kyle McDonald.
Crescenta Valley vs. Burroughs (7 p.m. Thursday) at Moyse Field: Things have evened out for the Falcons after a 2-0 start in Pacific League play and the defending co-champion Indians would be more than happy to run Crescenta Valley's losing streak to three straight.
In order to prevent that, the Falcons will need to correct some flaws that doomed them to a 21-14 loss to Pasadena last Friday. Foremost, elementary as it sounds, is getting into the end zone.
Crescenta Valley (4-3, 2-2 in league) put together some sustained drives and came up with two takeaways, but couldn't capitalize. It also turned the ball over twice itself.
Burroughs (4-3) won't be forgiving in either regard, as the Indians have been lights out in league play, going 4-0 with an average margin of victory of nearly three touchdowns.
Last week, Burroughs, which is ranked No. 10 in the Southeast Division, got touchdowns from Zander Anding, Lucas Yanez and Tadeo Zuniga in a win over Glendale.
Crescenta Valley will counter with an offense led by quarterback Paul Perugini and running back Mark Sereno, who accounted for both of the Falcons' touchdowns against Pasadena. Steady offense might in fact be the best defense for the Falcons, as Glendale had some success against the Indians in the first half last week simply by keeping the ball out the Indians' hands.
Glendale vs. Muir (7 p.m. Friday): Looking like the high-flying Muir of old lately, the Mustangs could certainly pose problems for a Nitros team (0-7, 0-4) that has been competitive in many of its games, but unable to put two halves together.
Muir (3-4, 2-2) has put up 93 points in its last two games, league blowouts of Crescenta Valley and Hoover, and, currently tied for fourth place, has its eye on moving back into the playoff picture with a win Friday.
And, the Mustangs have speed on defense to match their quick-strike offense, which figures to put some added pressure on quarterback Alex Yoon, as well as the Nitros offensive line charged with protecting him and opening holes for running back Chan Kim.
Hoover at Arcadia (7 p.m. Friday): With their season reaching a low point, perhaps the best the Tornadoes can hope for on Friday is a letdown from the Apaches coming off a huge win over defending co-champion Burbank last week.
Beyond that, Hoover (1-6, 0-4) needs to find a way to get back to its high-scoring ways after failing to score the last two weeks against Burbank and Muir and getting outscored a combined 110-0 in the process.
The Tornadoes, who averaged over 27 points per game over their first four contests, got quarterback AJ Pule back from injury last week, but he struggled amid flu symptoms.
This week, Hoover's defense, which has struggled with tackling, leading to big-yardage plays for the opposition, will have a stiff challenge in quarterback Myles Carr and his talented supporting cast.
Arcadia (4-3, 3-1) is currently the highest-ranked Pacific League team in the Southeast Division, entering at No. 8.
St. Francis vs. St. Paul (7:30 p.m. Friday): Playoffs have come early for the Golden Knights, who essentially face a must-win against one of their biggest rivals in order to remain in the hunt in the Mission League.
Home field advantage has historically played a huge advantage in this series and St. Francis will have that on its side Friday, but so far this season that hasn't been enough to get a league win.
St. Francis (3-4, 0-2) has suffered league losses to Gardena Serra and Chaminade, the No.1 and No. 2-ranked teams in the Southwest Division, on its current homestand and has lost four in a row overall for the first time this century.
The Swordsmen (5-2, 1-1) are ranked eighth in the division and are coming off a 31-7 loss to Serra, which beat St. Francis, 41-14.
If St. Francis can't get its injury-hobbled running game going early, quarterback Brett Nelson may look often to his favorite target, Travis Talianko.