Glendale, La Cañada high football ready to battle for 2-0 start

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

For four straight years, La Cañada High owned its annual football matchup with Glendale. It all came to an end in 2012.

Not only was last year's 21-3 victory over the Spartans the Nitros' first since 2008, but their first win against a team other than Hoover since Sept. 24, 2009.

“I think it was an important step,” said second-year Glendale Coach John Tuttle, who hasn’t found victories as hard to come by at Glendale after going 3-7 last year.

The Nitros are off to another good start under Tuttle, with a season-opening 41-3 win over San Gabriel on Sept. 6, and they’ll look to build on it Friday when they host La Cañada at Moyse Field at 7 p.m.

Like 2012, La Cañada Coach James Sims, who’s also in his second year, is also feeling good after earning a season-opening win over Alhambra, 24-13, on Sept. 6 — his team’s first game against another opponent since last year after the Spartans’ preseason scrimmage with Sotomayor was canceled.

“I feel very good about that defense, which is what I said in the beginning was going to be the strength of our team,” Sims said. “If we get our offense on target we’ll see what happens.”

Both La Cañada and Glendale figure to rely on their running games offensively. The Nitros ran for 145 yards at La Cañada last year and saw Daniel Jung go for 220 yards and three scores on 13 carries last week.

“We're hoping we can depend on Daniel week in and week out,” Tuttle said.

Sims will look to get his running game back on track against Glendale after it collected 12 yards on 19 carries last week, something he thinks is easily correctable and has already been addressed.

Last year, it was the Nitros defense and balance with a passing game that separated them from the Spartans.

Defensively, Glendale held La Cañada to 77 yards last year and San Gabriel to 198 last week. Senior quarterback Kevin Felix completed nine of 12 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in La Cañada last season and is back this season for Glendale.

Felix will be without wide receiver Michael Davis, who now plays football for BYU and had six receptions for 127 yards against La Cañada in 2012.

“We're such a different team from last year, so we have to try and find other guys who can step up and play for us,” Tuttle said.

Sims felt his team overlooked Glendale last year, a mistake it certainly won’t repeat Friday night at Moyse Field, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.

“They didn’t surprise us, they threw the ball to Michael Davis, that wasn’t a surprise,” Sims said. “I think where they surprised us was defensively they gave us some trouble and we had a lot of turnovers.”

La Cañada also relied on its defense last week, as it forced six turnovers in its win over Alhambra. Anthony Connell and Brad Woolf, who suffered an injury, both had a pick-six in the victory for the Spartans, who also saw quarterback Robbie Fuelling complete six of 14 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown.

“We’re going at it with a different attitude than last year, we aren’t going in there doubting Glendale, I guarantee you that,” said Sims, whose team finished 2-8 in 2012. “We’re up for a battle and we want to be 2-0 this year, we don’t want to go back to where we were last year — win the first game and go on a losing slide. We’re going to give it everything we got.”

San Marino vs. Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field, 7 p.m.: Offensively, the Falcons never got going against San Marino last year. Things certainly looked different in their 2013 debut, a 54-20 win over Verdugo Hills Sept. 6.

Crescenta Valley will hope to carry over its hot start, most notably of its quarterback Brian Gadsby, when it kicks off with San Marino Thursday at 7 p.m.

Gadsby, who started two games as a sophomore last year, had a breakout performance with six touchdowns and 174 yards through the air when he completed 13 of 23 passes last week. Ben Rees and Bostin Lakin both benefited from the junior’s big game and caught a pair of touchdowns in the lopsided road win.

San Marino, which is ranked sixth in the CIF Southern Section Mid-Valley Division, also won its opener at home over Duarte, 39-20, with the power-running game and formidable defense its become known for under third-year coach Mike Hobbie.

Despite graduating its starting running back, quarterback and fullback from 2012, San Marino appears to have refueled with running backs Andrew Ferraco and Kenny McFarland.

CV had some success against San Marino last year and was within six points of the Titans on the road with 5:32 to play. That’s when San Marino exploded for two touchdowns in the final 5:20 to secure a 27-7 win. On Thursday, San Marino pulls into Moyse Field.

Righetti at St. Francis, 7:30 p.m.: When the Golden Knights traveled to Santa Maria last season, they recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter to keep possession and run out the clock for a one-score victory.

Like it did in its 2013 opener, St. Francis hopes to do away with the dramatics at 7 p.m. Friday when it hosts Righetti, which is ranked ninth in the CIF Southern Section Northern Division. One thing the Knights will look to keep the same is the success they had in the passing game.

Graduated quarterback Jared Lebowitz threw for 269 yards and three scores in Santa Maria last year and his replacement Ty Gangi completed 14 of 20 passes for 216 yards and three touchdowns in St. Francis’ season-opening 52-3 win over Chino Sept. 6. That victory pushed the Golden Knights up to No. 8 in the Western Division rankings.

As planned, Joe Mudie proved a dual offensive threat for St. Francis against Chino. The senior running back ran for 124 yards and two touchdowns and caught two passes for 55 yards and another score.

Righetti is off to a 2-0 start this year with wins over Ventura (23-21) and Cabrillo (54-16) and will be on the road for the second week in a row Friday.

Hoover at South Pasadena, 4 p.m.: Last year, the Tornadoes shocked South Pasadena to the tune of a 33-28 road victory in the waning minutes. There likely won’t be a chance for Hoover to sneak up on its week-two opponent Friday.

Nevertheless, Hoover will look to improve to 2-1 after it dropped its first game under first-year coach Matt Andersen in a 39-26 loss to Sotomayor on Sept. 6. The Tornadoes dug themselves a hole with two fumbles that led to two touchdowns and a 20-0 Sotomayor lead less than six minutes into the game.

South Pasadena opened this year with a 40-15 loss to Eagle Rock.

After its first competitive game of the year, Hoover will look to clean up its mistakes and for big games from running back Kenneth Tranquena, quarterback Se Jun Kim and wide receiver Alvin Kim again. Last week, Tranquena notched an interception and ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries, while Se Jun threw for 189 yards and two touchdowns and Alvin caught four passes for 102 yards.

Hoover ran roughshod over South Pasadena a year ago, thanks to senior running back Jesse Pina, who tallied 228 yards (169 rushing, 59 receiving), five touchdowns and notched the game-winning score with less than two minutes to play.

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