LA CANADA -- Almost the entire Flintridge Prep football team was hobbling while walking through the post-game handshake line with Viewpoint Saturday night.
The Rebels kept their homecoming and Prep League game, hosted at La Cañada High, close in the first half, but their lingering injuries caught up with them in the second half in a 38-7 loss. Despite the scoreboard, Prep's post-game huddle with Coach Antonio Harrison was upbeat.
“This is the proudest I've been of them all year,” said Harrison, whose team was forced to forfeit two games this season because of low numbers due to injuries and hadn’t played in three weeks due to a forfeit and a bye, consecutively. “This is the best they've played, even better than the Bell-Jeff game they won. Every time they hit a wall, they overcame it... I told them to hold their chins up.”
Flintridge Prep (1-5, 0-2 in league) got on the board for the first time since Sept. 9 on Saturday when quarterback Clayton Weirick scored on a one-yard sneak on fourth down and goal with 8:31 left in the second quarter.
“It felt so good [to score],” said Weirick, who completed 14 of 24 passes for 141 yards and two interceptions and ran the ball six times for 35 yards and a touchdown. “It had been a while since I had pads on. It felt amazing just to be on the field.”
The score was sparked when Weirick hit his tight end, Daniel Jung, with an 11-yard pass with 50 seconds left in the first quarter for the Rebels' first first down of the game. Prep kept the ball rolling in the second quarter, as Weirick found Jung again for a 17-yard screen pass. Kurt Kocazik ran the ball 23 yards on four carries and Dylan Colliflower ran the ball another two yards to set up Weirick's score.
“We had to knock the rust off a little bit,” Harrison said. “It's been three weeks since we've played a game and we've been practicing against air.”
The touchdown brought the game to 10-7, after Viewpoint (5-2, 1-1 in league) had scored on a 17-yard run from running back Dakota Williams and turned a Rebels fumble at their own 29-yard line into a 22-yard field goal, giving the Patriots a 10-point lead seven minutes into the opening quarter.
Prep threatened to score again at the close of the first half, as it put together a two-minute drill that worked all the way to Viewpoint’s 28 with 33 seconds left in the half. Two incomplete passes and a pair of sacks kept the score at 17-7 headed into halftime.
Flintridge Prep's defense played tough in the first two quarters, holding the Patriots to negative yardage on three drives and forcing two punts and a turnover on downs. Chadd Cosse, Prep's defensive lineman, led the charge, recording a 10-yard sack, breaking up a pass and hurrying the quarterback into an incompletion twice in the game. Tucker Chemel also recorded a 10-yard sack for Prep.
“[Cosse] is a monster, a beast out there, and he leads us on the defensive line and everybody knows it,” Harrison said.
As the game went on, Prep wore down, though, as several different players, including Weirick, Jung and Kocazik, had to leave the game for at least a few snaps.
Viewpoint took advantage and a bigger lead when Noah Doneen returned a Flintridge Prep interception 45 yards for a touchdown, giving the Patriots a 24-7 lead five minutes into the third quarter. The Patriots closed out the scoring with a one-yard touchdown run from their quarterback Joey Verhaegh and a seven-yard run from Williams, who finished the game with 95 yards and two touchdowns on 18 carries, with 44 seconds left in the game.
Verhaegh completed four of 15 passes for 71 yards and carried the ball six times for 104 yards and a touchdown.
Kocazik finished the game with 69 total yards (58 rushing and 11 receiving). He came out of the game in the third quarter with a high-ankle sprain, but returned to action on the next drive.
Despite the loss, Harrison had plenty to be proud of after Saturday night.
“We got better every play and the great news is we've got enough for next week,” Harrison said. We're still in the hunt, we're still playing. We're going to go after these last three games the same way we always do – whether its 50 guys, 15 guys.”