The following are previews of the area's upcoming high school football games this week.
There’s normally been plenty of intrigue when the Crescenta Valley High football team meets Muir. Throughout the years, the Falcons and Mustangs have vied for Pacific League championships and have had their share of top-caliber athletes record excellent performances on both sides of the ball.
Don’t expect that to change when the teams collide again at 7 p.m. Friday at Muir in a league opener for both teams. The Falcons went 2-1 in nonleague, while the Mustangs finished 0-3. Crescenta Valley has won twice at Muir since 1978. The last time Crescenta Valley won at Muir was when it posted a 27-21 victory on Oct. 30, 2004.
Records aside, there shouldn’t be much trouble motivating the players.
“First of all, the Pacific League is wide open,” Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said. “So, you want to go out there and win that first game in league, especially against Muir.
“For us, it’s about ball control and making big plays on long drives. We know that it will be a challenge playing Muir. It’s their first home game, and they have played some giant teams in Upland, Alemany and Rancho Cucamonga.”
Staying on the ground might be to Crescenta Valley’s advantage.
The Falcons have mostly excelled on the ground, giving running back William Wang plenty of work. In three games, Wang has rushed for 512 yards.
“It will be a challenge for our kids and we want to get more people involved,” Schilling said. “Muir will come out with lots of speed, so we have to fight for every yard and be real hungry.
“It’s going to be a battle and you have to go through Muir to win league.”
Crescenta Valley posted a 27-20 victory against Muir last season at Glendale High’s Moyse Field. In 2010, Muir recorded a 39-16 win against Crescenta Valley. Muir, which advanced to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division semifinals last season, is 8-4 in the last 12 meetings, with six of the games decided by a touchdown or less.
Muir just had its bye week, which first-year coach John Hardy said came at an ideal time for the Mustangs.
“We were banged up, and this gave us a chance to get some guys healthy,” said Hardy, whose team is coming off a 54-14 loss against Rancho Cucamonga on Sept. 7. “I think it’s good to have a bye right before starting up league.
“Now, we should get another good test from Crescenta Valley. We still have a bitter taste from losing to them last year, and this has been a game that we’ve been gearing up for. We have to be able to dominate the line of scrimmage. They have been a thorn in our side and they have decent sized lineman. We know it’s going to be another grind.”
The Mustangs are led by quarterback Joshua Muema-Washington, who completed 14 of 21 for 101 yards. He added 103 rushing yards in 11 carries and scored a touchdown.
Flintridge Prep vs. Malibu at Occidental College, 7 p.m. Friday: After traveling more than 400 miles in its first three games, which included an overnight trip to Carlsbad and a trek to Ojai, the Flintridge Prep football team will finally open 2012 at home against Malibu High Friday night at Occidental College.
While the Rebels lost their first two games by a total of five points, they didn’t return home empty handed after they defeated Villanova Prep, 48-8, Saturday to improve to 1-2 this season.
“The boys definitely needed that [win] to carry the momentum into our first home game,” Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison said. “I am hoping that we can take that into this week’s game and keep building on it.”
Malibu also enters Friday with a 1-2 record after playing two other Prep League opponents this season. The Sharks fell to St. Monica in their opener, 20-12, before defeating Chadwick, 32-29, and most recently falling to Pasadena Poly, 22-19.
The Sharks have gone 2-1-1 against Prep since 2008. In Harrison’s first year as the Rebels head coach in 2012, Prep and Malibu played to a tie. Last year the Rebels fell to the Sharks, 49-0, as they were overcome by injuries.
“Last year [against Malibu] we lost Clayton Weirick and Stefan Smith in the first quarter — our starting quarterback and starting running back and backup quarterback,” Harrison said. “We haven’t really had a true game with Malibu since that tie.”
The Rebels are expected to enter Friday’s game at full strength with the return of receiver Kareem Ismail from a sprained ankle.
“We get Kareem back to help us in the passing game, which we are going to need to establish more now moving forward,” said Harrison after Weirick attempted two passes in the win over Villanova Prep.
Flintridge Prep has had plenty of success running the ball. The Rebels racked up 291 yards of offense against the Wildcats with 108 coming from Smith, who has 251 yards and three touchdowns this year, and 73 from Kurt Kozacik.
“We are excited with what our offense has been able to do. … I think our guys are used to the wing-T system and our line is a pretty veteran line and they’ve been busting their butts,” Harrison said of his team’s success running the ball. “They know for us to establish dominance we have to establish the run.”
St. Francis vs. West Ranch at Valencia High, 7 p.m. Friday: A fumble in the waning minutes last Friday ended the Golden Knights’ chances to start the season 3-0, as the turnover secured La Mirada’s 28-21 home victory over St. Francis.
St. Francis continues its three-game road trip, as it travels to Valencia High to take on West Ranch after defeating a tough Righetti squad, 29-22, and just falling to the Matadores.
Jared Lebowitz will look to have another big week under center for the Knights after he completed 17 of 27 passes for 239 yards, three touchdowns and one interception, while Tommy Scheper hauled in five passes for 92 yards last week. Lebowitz also ran for 68 yards in the road loss.
Defensive back Joey Velladao also had a big game for St. Francis last week, as he recorded 21 tackles (15 solo) at La Mirada.
The Wildcats are 1-3 to this point with their lone win coming against Burbank, 28-7. They are on a two-game losing streak after falling to Eastside, 24-14, and Thousand Oaks, 28-10.
Hoover vs. Burbank at Burroughs High, 7 p.m. Thursday: Though Hoover concluded nonleague play with a 15-14 loss against the Temple City, the Tornadoes will look to make some noise in their Pacific League opener. Hoover will likely be up for a tough test against Burbank (1-2). The Bulldogs have lost two games in a row, including wrapping up nonleague play Friday with a 21-14 overtime road loss against Inglewood.
The game might offer plenty of running, highlighted by backs Jesse Pina of Hoover and Burbank’s James Williams.
Pina has scored eight touchdowns, including five against South Pasadena, this season. Williams had 92 yards rushing in 23 carries and scored a pair of touchdowns against Inglewood on Friday.
The Tornadoes and Bulldogs are averaging 31 and 20 points per game, respectively.
The Tornadoes have been blanked in the last two games against the Bulldogs, including a 48-0 loss last season. Hoover hasn’t scored in 97 consecutive minutes against Burbank.
Pasadena at Glendale, 7 p.m. Friday: The Nitros will not only kick off the Pacific League portion of their schedule, but will also make their home debut following nonleague games against La Salle, La Cañada and South Pasadena.
Glendale (1-2) will look to bounce back on offense after a 39-7 loss against South Pasadena on Friday. Christian Osorio led the Nitros with 112 yards rushing in 18 carries against South Pasadena, while Brigham Young University-bound Michael Davis caught four passes for 46 yards. Davis accounted for Glendale’s lone score when he ran back a kickoff 99 yards.
It’s been a struggle so far for Pasadena (0-3). The Bulldogs came into the season with high expectations, but were handed nonleague losses by Alemany, Cathedral and Salesian. Salesian picked up a 35-6 win Friday against the Bulldogs, who qualified for the playoffs last season.
To make matters worse, the Bulldogs are without starting quarterback Brandon Cox. The University of Arizona-bound Cox, a reigning All-Area pick, is expected to miss his second straight game because of a break in his left foot.
Glendale will look to take advantage of Cox’s absence. Cox enjoyed an excellent performance last season against Glendale, as he scored on a 15-yard run with 17 seconds remaining to give Pasadena a 47-46 win.
Last season’s meeting featured 14 touchdowns and more than 1,000 yards of combined offense.