GLENDALE — It’s not even summer yet, but for four area high school football programs, it’s never too early to start going through the motions.
That best describes the first day of the inaugural Spring Passing Classic, co-hosted Friday by Pacific League rivals Glendale High and Crescenta Valley on Friday.
No pads, helmets, hitting or linemen, just a chance for the Nitros and Falcons, as well as St. Francis and Hoover and 12 other squads, to get some live action under their belts.
Hoover and St. Francis squared off late in the afternoon at Moyse Field, with the Golden Knights winning, 30-12.
St. Francis quarterbacks Brett Nelson and Pete Hoffman split time under center and combined for four touchdown passes on the game.
St. Francis, which earlier defeated Muir, 27-15, got off to a good start with a Travis Talianko touchdown reception sandwiched by a pair of interceptions.
“We told our guys this is a practice,” Golden Knights Coach Jim Bonds said. “We lifted before we came over here; that’s more important right now, for us to continue to get bigger and stronger.
“It’s nice to go up against other teams just to see if they pick up on what you’re doing.”
AJ Pule started at quarterback for the Tornadoes, but first-year junior Alex Rangel came on later to connect with Diamond McRae on a pair of deep touchdown bombs.
“He’s gonna play, and I plan to play him at QB also because AJ is our best athlete, and we want to use him wherever we can to get him more touches,” said Hoover Coach Chris Long, whose team opened the day with a 22-6 loss to Golden Valley. “We came out and competed, and we didn’t back down from them or anything.
After the final day of the event Saturday, St. Francis went 4-1.
St. Francis rounded out pool play with a 22-13 victory against Golden Valley. The Golden Knights then earned a 22-0 first-round win against Eagle Rock, but saw their day conclude with a 29-24 quarterfinal loss to Hart.
Quarterback Nelson tossed three touchdown passes against Hart, including a pair to wide receiver Travis Talianko.
“We just looked at this week as spring practice,” said Bonds, who led the Golden Knights to a playoff appearance last season. “It’s nice to go out there and see other pass coverages and patterns, and I saw a lot of positive things.
“Hart’s a great team and are well coached. We are mirror images of each other. They made some plays that we didn’t. We were able to film both days, so now we can watch the mistakes that we made and go from there.”