Flintridge Prep football hopes road to Nevada leads to redemption

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

After what happened in the Flintridge Prep football team’s zero-week opener, perhaps the best thing is for it to get away. The Rebels are taking a long road trip to Meadows High in Nevada and hope to return with their first win in tow.

Prep looks to do so after a gut-wrenching 42-41 loss to Army-Navy Academy. The Rebels held a 29-10 halftime lead at Occidental College, but saw it disappear when they were outscored, 32-12, in the second half.

“We’re back to business as normal, we looked at the mistakes we made, made corrections and we’re back to working hard,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison, highlighting his team’s 10 penalties for more than 100 yards as what hurt it most. “Like one of our coaches Glenn Beattie says, ‘There’s always a chance to redeem yourself in football, there’s always next week.’”

Harrison has seen some film on Meadows, which opened 2013 with a 45-0 loss to Linfield Christian, and expects a competitive game when it kicks off Saturday at 7 p.m.

“They’re very similar to us, a private school and small numbers,” Harrison said of Meadows, which carries 37 players according to MaxPreps.com. “We’re expecting a good game and we’re not taking anything for granted against anyone this season.”

Senior Kyle Law will get the start at quarterback for Flintridge Prep. The competition for the signal-caller job is still open, but sophomore Andrew Tsangeos will be shifted to the backfield out of need this week, with one or two backs unable to make the trip.

Rebels running back Stefan Smith will likely play another big role Friday. He produced 394 total yards from scrimmage (304 rushing on 19 carries, 90 receiving on three catches) and five touchdowns against Army-Navy.

St. Francis at Chino, 7 p.m.: With a top-10 ranking in the CIF Southern Section Western Division, the No. 9 Golden Knights will look to start moving up the ladder with a game against Chino Friday.

With Chino coming off a 33-6 home loss to Diamond Ranch, St. Francis is looking to keep the heat on its opening-day opposition and start strong coming off a 4-7 season.

Chino is one of two upcoming opponents St. Francis didn’t see last year. Chino enjoyed an 8-3 season last year, but graduated 36 seniors from that team and also has a new coach on board.

The Golden Knights are going through some transitions of their own. They graduated 21 players, including All-Area Football Player of the Year and quarterback Jared Lebowitz, but as always figure to have an effective passing game with depth at the skill positions and senior Ty Gangi now under center.

Unlike St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds’ pass-friendly offense, Chino had a run-first mentality last year with 335 rushes to 111 pass attempts.

Crescenta Valley at Verdugo Hills, 7 p.m.: A rivalry will be rekindled between nearby Crescenta Valley and Verdugo Hills Friday and the Falcons will attempt to keep their stranglehold on the matchup.

Last time the two sides met in 2010, CV posted a 34-13 victory for its fourth consecutive win over Verdugo Hills.

Things have changed for Verdugo Hills since then. In 2012, it went 7-4 and made the playoffs after going 3-7 two years ago.

Verdugo Hills boasts a dangerous aerial attack with senior quarterback Mark Powell back after passing for 2,350 yards and 29 touchdowns last year. Crescenta Valley, on the other hand, graduated its most reliable offensive weapon in running back William Wang.

The Falcons do bring back some experience on offense, with junior quarterback Brian Gadsby hoping for a big year.

Hoover at Sotomayor, 7 p.m.: For the second year in a row, Hoover won its home opener and scored the most points in a game since 2001 in doing so — a 65-0 victory over Blair at Moyse Field on Aug. 30.

First-year Tornadoes Coach Matt Andersen will look to keep the good times rolling on the road, as his team travels to Sotomayor High Friday. Sotomayor also started its year off with a victory at home over Monroe, 54-28.

Hoover had an all-around performance against Blair. On offense, it produced 342 total yards (303 rushing) and nine touchdowns (seven rushing), while forcing four turnovers on defense, all interceptions.

Hoover High quarterback Se Jun Kim had a quality game against Blair, with 101 total offensive yards (62 rushing, 39 passing) and three scores. The Tornadoes also flashed their depth at running back with Earl Rivera (85 yards, two touchdowns on seven carries), Kenneth Tranquena (78 yards, two touchdowns on eight carries) and Vaughn Parawan (58 yards, one touchdown on three carries) all putting up quality numbers.

San Gabriel at Glendale, 7 p.m.: A pair of 3-7 teams last year will meet in Glendale’s season opener Friday. Second-year coach John Tuttle will look to lead the Nitros to a season-opening win against the only team on their schedule they didn’t face in 2012.

There’s going to be a lot new about the Nitros in 2013, with the center of their offense — dynamic wide receiver Michael Davis — now at BYU. That’s not to say there isn’t continuity in Glendale’s passing game, as quarterback Kevin Felix and wide receiver Martin Marin are back for their senior seasons. Junior Daniel Jung is also back to step into Glendale’s top running back position.

While Glendale looks to start on the right foot, San Gabriel is looking to create some momentum on the road after a 38-6 loss to Montclair on Aug. 30.

La Cañada at Alhambra, 7 p.m.: For the second year in a row, the Spartans will look to win their season opener Friday night.

La Cañada opened 2012 with a 17-7 win over Alhambra at home, backed by a strong defense, and will take to the road to open this season. Todd Murray played a big role in the Spartans’ win with a 13-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and fumble recovery in the final minutes of the game to help seal the win.

This year, Murray, a junior tight end and defense end, hopes to catch a touchdown pass each game this year. Senior quarterback Robbie Fuelling is back after starting the second half of last season and will look to meet Murray’s goal Friday.

La Cañada graduated its most dangerous offensive weapon in running back Andy Paynter, who ran for 1,012 yards and 12 touchdowns on 187 carries, last year. A long line of backs looks to replace Paynter with one likely to emerge from the pack early this season.

Alhambra went 4-6 last year and graduated its quarterback and No. 1 running back. Alhambra opened 2013 with a 38-6 loss to Arcadia and relied heavily on its run game, completing two of six passes for 12 yards but running the ball 40 times for 246 yards, with Michael Valenzuela getting 29 carries for 144 yards.

The Spartans, who went 2-8 last year, expect their strength to be on defense with a big defensive line of Murray, Guillermo Padilla, D’Andre Sims and Adam Fazzi. La Cañada also brings back an experienced group of linebackers with Marshall Clark, Cal McFadden, Michael Greenberg and Anthony Connell.

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