Red-hot St. Francis High football set for powerhouse Serra

It’s not much of a surprise that the St. Francis High and Gardena Serra football teams find themselves among the elite programs not only in the ultra-competitive Mission League but also in the CIF Southern Section Western Division. Going undefeated in the first eight weeks of the season will certainly merit well-deserved recognition for the Golden Knights and Cavaliers, the defending division and state champions.

Records and weekly polls aside, the Golden Knights and Cavaliers will look to settle matters on the field when the teams lock horns at 7 p.m. Friday at Serra while mostly looking to create separation in the quest for the league championship. The Cavaliers (8-0, 3-0 in league) come in ranked No. 1 in the latest Western Division poll, while the Golden Knights (8-0, 3-0) are ranked third behind league rival Chaminade.

“Things are pretty exciting right now,” said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team rolled to a 44-14 home league win against Harvard-Westlake on Friday. “We’ve been able to do a great job at staying focused on each week and now we will look to put in our best effort against Serra.

“We are going to try to not to look at the Serra players as superhuman guys. They are high school kids. Our players are very good, too, and are not afraid. We have an opportunity here to play against a very good team.”

St. Francis and Serra feature their share of prominent athletes on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

For the Golden Knights, they present the lethal offensive punch of quarterback Ty Gangi and running back Joe Mudie. Gangi has completed 93 of 175 passes for 1,543 yards and 18 touchdowns in eight games. Mudie has rushed for 987 yards in 106 carries and nine touchdowns. He’s also caught four touchdown passes. Wide receiver Dylan Crawford and tight end John Carroll have combined for 13 receiving touchdowns for the Golden Knights.

Across the field, the Cavaliers, who cruised to a 45-14 league home win against Cathedral on Friday, have a propensity for producing quality talent. That’s once again the case this season for Serra, which features Boise State-bound quarterback Jalen Greene and wide receiver Adoree’ Jackson. Greene has completed 82 of 136 passes for 1,575 yards and 21 touchdowns. Jackson has caught 31 passes for 621 yards and five touchdowns.

“They will give Jackson the ball any way they can,” Bonds said. “They have a lot of future Division I players on the field.

“We are going to have to make decisions and secure the ball when we have it. We have to keep forcing turnovers on defense.”

Serra Coach Scott Altenberg, who has piloted the Cavaliers to three CIF titles and a pair of state championships, said he’s not surprised by St. Francis’ success.

“Coming into the season, everybody pointed to Chaminade and Serra battling it out for the league title,” Altenberg said. “The big mystery was St. Francis.

“I know how good of a coach Jim is and I knew they have a lot of nice players. It’s pretty exciting to be able to play in a big game and this will be one of those. There’s a lot of good players on both teams.”

Muir vs. Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field, 7 p.m. Friday: There will be plenty at stake when the Falcons and Mustangs clash in their latest Pacific League encounter.

Crescenta Valley has a golden opportunity to catch Muir for first place in league. Another stellar effort from Falcons junior standout quarterback Brian Gadsby might put them in position to accomplish the feat. Muir is 7-1, 5-0 in league and ranked No. 6 in the latest CIF Southern Section Northeast Division poll. Crescenta Valley is 7-1, 4-1 and ranked No. 8 in the division.

No matter the records and rankings, Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling said gearing up for Muir, the defending league champion, isn’t a dilemma.

“It’s exciting times and great to be in the running for a league championship,” said Schilling, whose team has won three games in a row. “They have so many great athletes and we also have some big-game guys.

“When you are doing well, it makes the practices that much better. You see it on the field and their attitude in school is that much better.”

Gadsby enjoyed a big performance in Crescenta Valley’s 56-16 league win against Hoover on Friday, throwing for 263 yards and five touchdowns.

“The questions are can we hold on to the ball and not give up a score against them on special teams?” Schilling said.

Schilling is all too familiar with the Mustangs after watching tape of their 48-7 league win against Arcadia on Friday. The Mustangs got a 96-yard opening kickoff return for a touchdown by Taeon Mason. Later, Terry Wilson scooped up a blocked field-goal attempt and raced 70-plus yards for a touchdown.

Muir quarterback Dejon Williams threw for 172 yards and two touchdowns against Arcadia.

For the Falcons, Gadsby has his share of primary targets down field. Connor Van Ginkel caught three passes for 136 yards and a pair of first-half touchdowns against Hoover, while Chase Walker had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown.

The teams have split the last four meetings with the home team winning each game. Muir posted a 36-0 win last season.

Burbank vs. Hoover at Moyse Field, 7 p.m. Thursday: Hoover has fallen on hard times since beginning the season 2-0 (one win due to an ineligible player). Hoover dropped a 56-16 Pacific League decision against Crescenta Valley on Friday to fall to 2-6, 0-5 in league.

The Tornadoes will look to finish up the season strong, but figure to have a tough task ahead against Burbank. The Bulldogs (6-2, 3-2) enter play tied with Arcadia for fourth place in league. Burbank registered a 56-14 league win against Glendale on Oct. 24 after losing its previous two contests.

Expect the Bulldogs, who opened the season with five victories in a row, to be charged up against the Tornadoes thanks to a steady offensive attack. Against Glendale, Burbank got nine carries for 124 yards and three touchdowns from James Williams. He also caught two passes for 80 yards and one touchdown.

Joseph Pendleton had seven carries for 69 yards and one touchdown for Burbank, ranked No. 9 in the latest CIF Southern Section Southeast Division poll.

Hoover’s Andres Perez finished with four catches for 91 yards and one touchdown reception against Crescenta Valley.

Burbank earned a 48-7 win against Hoover last season.

Glendale at Pasadena, 7 p.m. Friday: The Nitros dipped to 2-6, 0-5 in league with a 56-14 league defeat against host Burbank on Oct. 24. Pasadena (1-7, 1-4) suffered a 38-0 league loss against host Burroughs on Friday.

Glendale has lost five games in a row, mostly due to struggling on offense. The Nitros are averaging 15.6 points per game and have scored seven or less points in five of their eight contests. Glendale received a solid effort in the second half against Burbank from running back Leonardo Flores, who had seven carries for 66 yards and one touchdown after not participating in the first half.

The Nitros will additionally look to shore up their defense after allowing five touchdowns on Burbank’s first nine plays from scrimmage.

The Bulldogs have dropped two consecutive games. They have given up at least 28 points in each of their defeats.

Pasadena recorded a 35-0 win against Glendale at home last season.

Flintridge Prep at Hawkins, 7 p.m. Friday: The Rebels finally cracked the win column Saturday with a 19-17 Prep League victory against Webb and end an eight-game losing skid. Now, the Rebels (1-7) will hit the road to Los Angeles looking to make it two straight when they face Hawkins (2-6) of the L.A. City Section for the first time in an intersectional contest.

Flintridge Prep enjoyed a huge effort on the ground from running back Stefan Smith, who rushed for 245 yards and three touchdowns against Webb. Smith has rushed for more than 200 yards in his last two contests. The Rebels also received a boost on defense, recovering three fumbles against Webb.

Hawkins and Flintridge Prep have not played a common opponent this season. Hawkins snapped a three-game losing streak Friday with a 21-9 Expo League road win against Marquez.

Hawkins quarterback Oscar Hawkins completed 11 of 22 passes for 234 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Marquez. His biggest target was Joseph Lewis, who caught six passes for 120 yards and a touchdown. Hawkins running back Greg Johnson rushed for 103 yards in 11 carries to help play a role in balancing the offense.

Flintridge Prep is averaging 21.6 points per game, while Hawkins is averaging 12.

La Cañada at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. Friday: La Cañada is coming off its worst loss of the season and will look to quickly turn things around while also remaining in contention for a playoff berth. The Spartans suffered a 77-0 home defeat against Monrovia on Oct. 24 to drop to 3-5 and 1-2 in league.

La Cañada, which mustered only 105 yards of total offense against Monrovia, might be catching South Pasadena (3-5, 0-3) at an opportune time. The Tigers have dropped three games in a row, including a 48-13 league loss against Temple City on Friday.

The Spartans are in fourth place in league. The Tigers are tied for last with Blair.

Outside of league action, the Spartans and Tigers have faced three common nonleague opponents in Eagle Rock, Alhambra and Glendale. La Cañada beat Alhambra and Glendale and lost to Eagle Rock. South Pasadena defeated Alhambra, but lost to Glendale and Eagle Rock.

South Pasadena has won the last two meetings against La Cañada, including a 35-8 road win last season.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World