LEBEC — Flintridge Prep’s football team would just as soon forget about its first-half showing against host Frazier Mountain on Friday evening.
Characterized by miscommunication and infighting, the Rebels fell behind by 24 points.
Flintridge Prep was able to remedy its ills, putting together a spirited final 24 minutes. The first-half deficit proved too much to overcome on the scoreboard, but after the Rebels’ 36-29 loss to the Falcons, they most certainly found the silver lining in defeat.
“In the first half, we had guys, senior captains, juniors, stars, arguing, complaining, blaming each other,” said Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison, whose squad fell to 0-4. “I told them [at halftime], ‘Just go out and play as a unit.’
“They answered the call. For the first time this season, they played together.
“We may not have a ‘W’ or a tally in the win column … but, for me, this is a great win for this team.”
Led by quarterback Andrew Tsangeos, the Rebels stormed out of the locker room and shut out the Falcons (4-1) in the third quarter, cutting the score to 24-16 heading into the fourth quarter and, overall, in the second half, outscored Frazier Mountain, 29-12.
However, Frazier Mountain finally countered with a Riley Daniels five-yard run for a 30-16 advantage with 8:16 to play in the game and, after an interception, scored on its next offensive drive via a Matt Regan three-yard run to essentially seal the game with a 36-16 tally with just 2:40 remaining.
Still, Prep kept swinging and put together a quick six-play drive to cut the score to 36-23 after Kyle Hamane ran in a score from six yards out. Prep then successfully recovered an onside kick. Tsangeos then drove his team 65 yards in 1:16, hitting receiver Riley Jones for a 13-yard score on the game’s final play.
A week earlier after a 42-14 loss to Boron, Harrison said one of his team’s and his coaching staff’s priorities was to get Tsangeos more involved. Tsangeos, who split time at quarterback against Boron, quarterbacked the Rebels throughout against Frazier Mountain, along with returning kicks and playing defensive back.
“Andrew is a heckuva athlete,” Harrison said. “He has the potential to be the best quarterback we’ve ever had at Flintridge Prep.”
Tsangeos finished with a pair of touchdown passes, igniting the Rebels’ comeback bid on the first drive of the second half when he hit a wide-open Thomas Turchan for a 61-yard touchdown. It was followed by a Hamane two-point conversion run off a reverse to cut the score to 24-8 with 10:23 to go in the third.
The Rebels, who were playing without All-Area running back/defensive back Stefan Smith, who was injured and missed most of the game at Boron, then held Frazier Mountain to a four-and-out on the ensuing possession.
Keyed by a 17-yard Tsangeous-to-Turchan hook-up off a deflection on second and 22 and then a 10-yard Tsangeous run on third and five, the Rebels overcame penalty hiccups and concluded their ensuing drive with an Elliot Witter nine-yard scoring run up the gut. Tsangeos then hit a wide-open Eric Fung for a two-point conversion and a 24-16 score.
The third-quarter surge, coupled with scoring twice in the game’s final 78 seconds, will hopefully speak volumes for the Rebels going forward, Harrison said.
“If we can keep this momentum and carry it into league, we’ll be ready for the Prep League,” said Harrison, whose team will conclude its nonleague schedule on the road at Heritage Christian on Oct. 5 before opening league against rival Pasadena Poly on Oct. 11.
A Regan three-yard run and a 41-yard Thomas Neirhoff pass accounted for Frazier Mountain’s 16-0 first-quarter lead, as both were followed by two-point conversions. A one-yard Regan run and subsequent conversion brought the score to 24-0 heading into the half.
“I told them, ‘You forgot about what this game is about, it’s about the brotherhood,’” Harrison said. “Everybody was on a different page and they weren’t trusting each other.”
That all changed in the second half and that’s why Harrison and Co., though they left with a loss, were certainly in a far better mindset than when they were walking away from a loss the previous week at Boron.
“I am thoroughly pleased with what we did in the second half,” Harrison said. “They did a helluva job. I’m proud of them.”