Knights, Falcons gear up for another 'Battle'

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

Crescenta Valley Coach Paul Schilling and St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds know what's at stake when its time to compete in the "Battle for Foothill Boulevard" contest.

Community interest goes to another decibel level with both sides of the bleachers packed with ardent fans cheering on their respective teams.

Schilling and Bonds don't expect it to be any different when the teams meet in the latest installment of the nonleague contest at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Francis High's Friedman Field.

Both teams opened their seasons with victories Friday. Both teams are ranked in their respective divisions.

"The players talk about this being the best game of the year," said Schilling, whose team opened with a 42-30 nonleague victory against Santa Paula, at Tuesday's Glendale YMCA Quarterback Club meeting. "We have to be much better than we were against Santa Paula to do well in this game."

Bonds, who saw his team rally for a 31-28 road win against Arcadia on a 19-yard field goal with eight seconds left by Billy McCreary on Friday, said the Golden Knights expect an intense battle with their neighbors.

"It's always going to be a neighborhood rivalry," Bonds said at the Quarterback Club meeting. "You throw the records out the door when the teams get together because everybody knows what's on the line."

Crescenta Valley, ranked No. 10 in the latest CIF Southern Section Southeast Division poll, will look to top St. Francis for the first time since Sept. 15, 2001. In that game, quarterback Hudson Gossard, now the offensive coordinator at Crescenta Valley, completed 15 of 28 passes for 146 yards and accounted for all three Falcon touchdowns — two passing and one rushing — to help register a 21-10 win.

St. Francis, ranked No. 6 in the Western Division, has maintained a stranglehold against Crescenta Valley since. St. Francis notched a 42-14 win last season against the Falcons at Glendale High's Moyse Field.

The Falcons will likely be without starting wide receiver Nick Ruiz and starting lineman Armen Pashai. Both were ejected against Santa Paula following a scrum for a fumble. Schilling said Crescenta Valley appealed their ejections, which calls for serving an automatic one-game suspension, but it wasn't clear if they would be available against St. Francis.

On the bright side, the Falcons received solid efforts from quarterback Zac Wilkerson and running back Marro Lee. Wilkerson completed eight of 16 passes for 197 yards and one touchdown. Lee excelled on the ground, rushing for 131 yards in 20 carries and two touchdowns.

"Their offensive weapons will give us plenty to concentrate on," said Bonds, whose team overcame an 18-point deficit against Arcadia.

St. Francis got a quality performance from running back Austin De Los Santos, who rushed for 109 yards in 24 carries despite being bothered by a strained left medial collateral ligament.

St. Francis quarterback Jared Lebowitz completed 15 of 32 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns in his varsity debut.

Hoover at South Pasadena, 7 p.m. today: The Tornadoes avoided a shutout by virtue of scoring on the final play of the game in a 20-6 nonleague loss against cross-town rival Glendale on Sept. 8. That was the lone bright spot for the Tornadoes (0-1), who will look to regroup quickly and snap an eight-game losing streak that dates back to last year.

They also want to get new Hoover Coach Andrew Policky his first win with Pacific League play around the corner.

Hoover quarterback Alex Rangel completed 12 for 20 passes for 147 yards against Glendale. He'll look to improve on those numbers against a South Pasadena squad, helmed by former Flintridge Prep Coach Marty Konrad, coming off a 27-10 nonleague loss against visiting San Gabriel on Friday.

South Pasadena quarterback Joey Harmon enjoyed some success during his first start at the varsity level, as he passed for 109 yards and one touchdown. He completed eight passes for 87 yards to tight end Justin Cornford.

South Pasadena earned a 31-25 victory against Hoover last season.

La Cañada at Glendale, 7 p.m. Friday: After opening its season with a 20-6 nonleague victory against cross-town rival Hoover on Sept. 8, Glendale will face another area team. The Nitros will look to beat the Spartans (0-1) for the first time since 2008, when they posted a 36-21 win at La Cañada.

Glendale will turn to running back Alex Yoon, who rushed for 164 yards and one touchdown against Hoover. Glendale showed its capable of going to the air with the combination of quarterback Evan Norton and wide receiver Mike Davis. Norton, who rushed for a touchdown, completed seven of 21 passes for 92 yards, all to Davis.

La Cañada began its season Friday with a 34-14 nonleague road loss against Alhambra. The Spartans committed four fumbles, which played a major role in the defeat. Two of the fumbles were cashed in for touchdowns by the Moors.

La Cañada posted a 40-17 victory against Glendale last season.

Grace Brethren vs. Flintridge Prep at Occidental College, 7 p.m. Friday: The Rebels (1-1) have struggled during parts of their first two games. Things figure to get more difficult when they battle Grace Brethren (1-0) in a nonleague game. The Lancers come in following their bye ranked No. 6 in the latest CIF Southern Section East Valley poll against a Flintridge Prep squad that surrendered 418 yards of total offense in a 49-13 home loss to St. Genevieve on Friday.

The Rebels hope to regain the services of wide receiver Chris Wirthlin, who suffered an injury during their first game. Wirthlin, one of Flintridge Prep's top skill players, sat out the St. Genevieve contest because of a right-leg injury.

Flintridge Prep, which will play its second of three consecutive home contests, saw quarterback Clayton Weirick complete seven of 22 passes for 178 yards against St. Genevieve. He threw a pair of touchdowns to wide receiver Stefan Smith for 68 and 59 yards.

Grace Brethren opened its season Sept. 2 with a 26-23 nonleague victory against Brentwood. The Lancers scored 12 points in the fourth quarter to erase a 20-14 deficit.

The Lancers handed Flintridge Prep a 46-20 loss last season at Moorpark College.

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