Spartans look to snap Falcons' streak

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

The annual La Cañada High-Crescenta Valley rivalry game has gone down to the wire the past two years, as each contest have been decided by four points or less.

"It's been [close] two years in a row now," La Cañada Coach Dan Yoder said. "I mean, we obviously hope that it doesn't come down to that, but we will go out and do the best we can —- take it one play at a time. They usually bring us a pretty tough game. You always get up for CV, to play the guys up the hill."

The teams will meet again at 7 p.m. Friday at La Cañada.

Crescenta Valley pulled out an emotional 38-34 victory over La Cañada last season, as the game was played two days after the death of former CV Coach Gordy Warnock. The Falcons have recently dominated the annual contest, defeating the Spartans each of the past four games.

The rivalry game takes on even more meaning for the Spartans this year, as it also serves as their home opener. Both teams come into the game with 1-1 records, but they experienced quite different results under the lights last week.

The Falcons squared off with their other La Cañada rival, St. Francis, and were outmatched in a 35-0 loss. The Spartans staved off a last-minute Glendale High comeback with an interception for a 16-14 win.

"[The team is] up from the win, but we also recognize CV is a big challenge and we are going to have to shore up a lot of the little mistakes we made on both sides of the ball from last week," Yoder said. "Any time you make a mistake against a team like CV, they will make you pay for it."

La Cañada rushed for 200 yards in 41 carries against Glendale, using a stable of several different backs. One of Yoder's biggest concerns about squaring off with the Falcons is how his offensive and defensive lines will hold up against CV's big bodies up front.

"They are bigger than the teams we have faced to this point, so we have to make sure we are able to win the fight in the trenches," Yoder said.

Crescenta Valley will look to get its offense back on track, after managing just 79 offensive yards last week.

The Falcons' offense showcased the balance of their offense in their first game of the season against Santa Paula on Sept. 9. CV quarterback Zac Wilkerson threw for 205 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 61 yards and two scores in the game and Marro Lee, the team's primary running back, picked up 120 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 20 carries. He also caught six passes for 90 yards and Nick Ruiz had an 80-yard touchdown reception in the game.

"The thing about CV is they always have multiple threats, so if you try to gang up and shut down one they will hit you with another," Yoder said. "We have to make sure we are balanced on both sides of the ball to counteract that."

St. Francis at Venice, 7 p.m. Friday: After squeaking out a three-point win over Arcadia to open the season, St. Francis (2-0) picked up some steam with a 35-0 win over Crescenta Valley on Friday in what Golden Knights Coach Jim Bonds called the best defensive performance he's seen in his 11 years at St. Francis.

Now, the Golden Knights, ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Western Division, head into an intersectional matchup with the host Gondoliers (1-1), who will be looking to avenge a 31-13 loss from last season.

With a steady diet of Mission League opponents on its nonleague schedule, Venice has already played two of St. Francis' league mates in Harvard-Westlake and Chaminade, beating the Wolverines, 34-27, and falling to the Western Division No. 1-ranked Eagles, 41-21, last week.

"They're a very talented football team," Bonds said. "It will be a good barometer for us to go down and play them at Venice and we'll hopefully find out a little bit more about our team on Friday night."

St. Francis' defense is coming off a monster game with seven sacks and two interceptions, including a 97-yard return for a touchdown by Travis Talianko.

Transfer quarterback Jared Lebowitz passed for a pair of touchdowns to Parker Nieves and Christian Hess against CV, but also was intercepted once.

"He's coming along," Bonds said of Lebowitz. "He was a little more comfortable against Crescenta Valley, but still made some ill-advised throws.

"It was a great performance by our defense. Our offense still has a way to go."

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