Knights look to stay on top

St. Francis at Gardena Serra, 7 p.m. Friday: The upcoming stretch of games could make or break the Golden Knights as far as the Mission League is concerned, as the next three will all be against ranked opponents in the CIF Southern Section Western Division.

They will have to get it all done on the road, as well, with Friday's 23-20 win over Harvard-Westlake to open league being the last time the Golden Knights (6-0, 1-0 in league) will see Friedman Field until the regular-season finale against Cathedral on Nov. 11.

The gauntlet begins with a Serra squad that won the Mission League and Western Division championship last season and enters ranked fourth in this season's most recent poll, one spot behind St. Francis.

And while the Cavaliers are still a highly-regarded team, they have graduated some of their most potent weapons form last season in running back George Farmer and receiver Marquise Lee, both now at USC.

This year, Serra (4-2, 1-0), which is coming off a 40-0 league win over Cathedral, is led by quarterback Jalen Greene, who has a deep mix of backs and wideouts to distribute the ball to.

"They're athletic, but they're not the same football team as last year," said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team was handed its worst loss of the season last season by Serra, 41-14. "I like our chances, this team has showed a lot of character in our early games this season."

St. Francis is led by transfer quarterback Jared Lebowitz, who is coming off a game in which he recorded over 300 yards of total offense and was voted player of the week for his team. The Golden Knights defense has been very effective, as the 20 points it allowed to the Wolverines was as many as it had surrendered in its previous four combined.

"We've got to, obviously, execute our game plan going down there, contain their speed and play a little bit better offensively," Bonds said.

Viewpoint at Flintridge Prep at La Cañada High, 7 p.m. Saturday: The Rebels have spent a large part of this season off the field, as Prep has forfeited two games so far this year, due to an already thin roster being decimated by injuries.

Prep returns to action this week against Viewpoint, after forfeiting its Prep League opener against Webb last week because of a lack of available players. The last time the Rebels took the field on Oct. 1, they were defeated by Malibu, 49-0, and saw their 15-player roster get trimmed to 13 as two more players — starting quarterback Clayton Weirick and backup quarterback Stefan Smith — came off the field with injuries.

The Patriots (4-2, 0-1 in league) figure to be a handful for the Rebels (1-4, 0-1 in league), although they had a four-game winning streak snapped by Rio Hondo Prep last week, 50-14.

Viewpoint had a much stronger showing against Bell-Jeff, the one team it has in common with Prep so far this year. The Patriots rolled through the Guards, 62-20, while the Rebels just beat them, 12-8, in their season opener for their lone win of the year.

Balance is the key for Viewpoint's offense. The Patriots have passed for 957 yards and ran for 1,119 so far this season. Joey Verhaegh leads the team at quarterback. He has completed 57 of 117 passes for 952 yards and 10 touchdowns, while running for 158 yards and three touchdowns on 38 carries.

Adam Markum leads a stable of Viewpoint running backs, manufacturing 568 yards and 10 touchdowns on 59 carries this year. Not far behind him is Dakota Williams, who has run for 319 yards and five touchdowns on 42 carries.

South Pasadena at La Cañada, 7 p.m. Friday: Rio Hondo League play started out very differently for the Spartans and Tigers last week. South Pasadena's defense came up big, forcing four turnovers, in a 28-6 win over Temple City. It wasn't pretty for La Cañada, as Monrovia ran away with a 47-2 win.

The Spartans will look to turn the tide and snap a four-game losing streak when they host the Tigers Friday. It will be the first time La Cañada hasn't faced a ranked opponent in four weeks. It'll be far from easy for the Spartans, though.

La Cañada (1-5, 0-1 in Rio Hondo League) just held off South Pasadena (4-2 overall, 1-0 in league), 28-21, in its homecoming game last year. The Tigers put together a last-minute drive that reached the Spartans' three-yard line, but turned the ball over on downs, sealing the win for La Cañada.

The Tigers appear to have an edge on La Cañada, as they've put together better showings against teams that both La Cañada and South Pasadena have faced this year (Glendale, Alhambra and Maranatha).

La Cañada has struggled mightily in its four-game losing streak. Kyle Herron, La Cañada's fullback, has emerged as a team leader. He led his team with 38 yards on 11 carries against Monrovia and has put up a team best 241 yards and two touchdowns on 44 carries.

The Tigers have relied on their defense this season, allowing an average of 9.5 points in their four victories this season. Sophomore quarterback Joey Harmon leads South Pasadena on offense. He completed seven of nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown last week. Nathan Lee leads the Tigers' running game. He ran for 94 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries against Temple City.

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