A look at the latest CIF Southern Section Western Division poll shows that four Mission League football teams are ranked in the top 10. Among those included are Chaminade High at No. 1 and St. Francis at No. 6.
St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds is aware that the Eagles occupy the top spot, but he's looking for his players to block that out of their minds when they meet Chaminade in a league road contest at 7:30 p.m. Friday.
"They are ranked No. 1 in the division if you decide to pay attention," Bonds said. "We've decided to not pay attention and anything can happen."
St. Francis (6-1, 1-1 in league) will look to bounce back from a 44-30 league loss against Gardena, ranked No. 3 in the division, on Friday night. Chaminade improved to 6-1, 2-0 with a 55-0 league victory against Harvard-Westlake.
St. Francis and Chaminade have had their share of close games in recent seasons, with the last three being decided by seven points or less. Chaminade recorded a 29-26 win last season at St. Francis and St. Francis rallied for a 32-25 win at Chaminade in 2009 on a last-minute touchdown that was caught by wide receiver Travis Talianko.
Bonds said he expects another close game.
"They are very well-coached, athletic and physical," Bonds said. "They just have some good athletes and we know we'll have our work cut our for us.
"The point of emphasis for us will be to start faster. We put ourselves in some holes last week. We want to concentrate on playing our kind of football."
St. Francis and Serra were deadlocked at 7 midway through the second quarter before the Golden Knights surrendered 24 points in the final six minutes to trail, 31-7, at halftime. St. Francis pulled to within 38-30 late in the fourth quarter, but saw Serra score a late touchdown to close out the Golden Knights.
St. Francis quarterback Jared Lebowitz completed 19 of 36 passes for 274 yards and one interception against Serra. The Golden Knights received one rushing touchdown apiece from Lebowitz and Austin De Los Santos.
The Golden Knights also lost starting defensive lineman Jose Padilla to a season-ending knee injury sustained in the first half against Serra.
Chaminade enters Friday's tilt having won four games in a row. The Eagles have outscored their last four foes — Mira Costa, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame, St. Paul and Harvard-Westlake — by a margin of 151-51.
The Eagles will be led by quarterback Logan Scott and running back Terrell Newby, who had three touchdowns against Harvard-Westlake.
"Logan is the whole package in that he can run and throw so well. He's always able to position himself well," Chaminade Coach Ed Croson said. "Terrell is fast and tough and he's got that great ability in changing direction and having a vision [of the field]."
Croson said the Eagles will be presented with another challenge by St. Francis.
"We know it's going to be a tough game because St. Francis is always disciplined," Croson said. "It's come down the last couple of times to who has the ball last."
Burbank vs. Crescenta Valley at Glendale High's Moyse Field, 7 p.m. today: For Crescenta Valley and Burbank, there's plenty at stake — most notably trying to separate themselves from the other in trying to grab a playoff spot. Crescenta Valley and Burbank are mirror images, sporting identical records of 4-3 and 2-2 in league to put them in a tie for fourth in league with Muir.
"We are now in a situation where we have to win two of three games to make the playoffs," Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said.
After opening league with victories against Hoover and Muir, the Falcons have since stumbled. Crescenta Valley lost its second league game in a row, falling, 35-22, to first-place Burroughs on Oct. 20.
The Falcons received another quality effort from running back Marro Lee, who recorded 204 total yards of offense — 121 rushing on 28 carries and 83 more on nine receptions — against Burroughs. Crescenta Valley quarterback Zac Wilkerson completed 21 of 27 passing for 287 yards and a touchdown.
Burbank, which netted a 39-26 win against the Falcons last season and has won two straight matchups against the Falcons, suffered a 27-20 league road loss against Pasadena on Friday. The Bulldogs have lost two straight games after posting league wins against Glendale and Hoover.
Quarterback Austin Mowett completed 20 of 30 passes for 177 yards and two touchdowns against Pasadena. Running back Herman Castro rushed 11 times for 102 yards and a touchdown.
Hoover at Pasadena, 7 p.m. today: While the Tornadoes remain winless, they did receive some good news when they avoided being shut out for a fourth straight week. Hoover (0-7, 0-4 in league) saw running back Luke Tabayoyong score on a three-yard run to account for Hoover's lone touchdown with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter in what turned out to be a 49-7 league loss against visiting Arcadia on Friday.
Having had to deal with Arcadia's explosive offensive schemes, the Tornadoes, who have lost 14 straight games, will have the arduous task of trying to stop Pasadena (4-3, 3-1). The Bulldogs are paced by nimble quarterback Brandon Cox, who completed 17 of 25 passing for 246 yards and three touchdowns in the Bulldogs' 27-20 league win against Burbank on Friday. Cox also ran for a touchdown and wide receiver Marcus Green caught seven passes for 132 yards and touchdown.
"They have a very, very good player in Cox," Hoover Coach Andrew Policky said. "He's one of the best players in our league and he can cause all kinds of problems."
Pasadena has won three straight games and four of its last five after opening with nonleague losses to Alemany and Cathedral. The Bulldogs are tied for second in league with Arcadia.
Pasadena had an easy time with Hoover last season, posting a 41-7 road victory.
Arcadia at Glendale, 7 p.m. Friday: Glendale's offense stalled during its 49-10 Pacific League loss to Muir on Friday and the Nitros (1-6, 0-4 in league) have now lost six games in a row.
Things don't figure to get any easier for the Nitros when they face the Apaches (5-2, 3-1). Arcadia, winner of two straight games and a favorite to win the league championship, will play its second consecutive game at Moyse Field in as many weeks. It notched a 49-7 league win against Hoover on Friday.
While Glendale has a respectable offensive trio of players in quarterback Evan Norton, running back Alex Yoon and wide receiver Mike Davis, the Nitros will look to find a way to stop an Arcadia offense that's averaging 36.1 points per game this season.
Arcadia quarterback Myles Carr had three touchdown passes and completed nine of 16 for 155 yards, all in the first half, before sitting out the entire second half. He also rushed for a touchdown. Running back Jake Medel had a pair of touchdowns for the Apaches, who registered a 49-14 win against Glendale last season.
Norton scored Glendale's lone touchdown on an eight-yard run in the third quarter.
Flintridge Prep at Rio Hondo Prep, 7:30 p.m. Friday: The Rebels played their first game in three weeks Saturday, suffering a 38-7 Prep League home loss against Viewpoint at La Cañada High. Twice this year, Flintridge Prep hasn't had enough players to field a team because of injuries, resulting in two forfeits, including the Rebels' league opener against Webb, which preceded their bye week.
The Rebels (1-5, 0-2 in league) will look to finish up the season strong. They will have quite a test in Rio Hondo Prep (6-1, 2-0). The Kares have won six games in a row, including a 32-0 league road win against Pasadena Poly on Saturday. They have also won 16 straight league games.
Rio Hondo Prep has won seven straight games against Flintridge Prep, including a 40-0 win last season, and has limited Flintridge Prep to seven points in the last three meetings. Flintridge Prep last beat Rio Hondo Prep on Nov. 1, 2003, when it recorded a 41-0 win and then went on to capture the CIF Southern Section Division XIII championship.
Against Viewpoint, Flintridge Prep running back Kurt Kocazik recorded 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.
Rio Hondo Prep got 115 yards rushing from running back Issac Holguin against Pasadena Poly.