Flintridge Prep football prepares for foe with familiar story

It's been a tough start to the year for the Flintridge Prep football team, but the Rebels will look to get in the win column against a Villanova Prep team that's going through what's plagued the Rebels this and last season.

The Wildcats, who host Prep Saturday at 10 a.m., are 0-3 this season and were forced to forfeit their game with Santa Clarita Christian Saturday when injuries depleted a team that entered 2012 with a 27-player roster. Villanova Prep lost the first two games it played against Ribet Academy, 59-0, and Southlands Christian, 30-13, according to MaxPreps.com.

It's something Flintridge Prep Coach Antonio Harrison can relate to after the Rebels were forced to forfeit two games last year when their small roster was hit hard with injuries.

"Villanova Prep is going through the situation we're going through with small numbers and injuries," Harrison said.

Prep is 0-2 to start the season but could easily be 2-0, as Harrison said his team beat itself in both games. The Rebels lost three fumbles in a 19-16 loss to Heritage Christian Saturday and saw a 16-point, fourth-quarter lead disappear against Army-Navy in overtime, 32-30.

"We should be 2-0," Harrison said. "They make for interesting coaches meetings because we go up to take a look at our scheme, but it's working. It's just if we don't fumble here, blow a coverage here or jump offsides here we win the game. The good news is the boys are competing, we've lost two games by a total of five points so there's a lot of good things to be taken out of those two games. We just need to put it all together for a whole four quarters to see a win."

Flintridge Prep's rushing attack has been dangerous each game, as running backs Stefan Smith and Kurt Kozacik have each had a big game already. Smith ran for 123 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries against Heritage Christian, while Kozacik had two scores and 251 yards in 21 carries against Army-Navy.

In both games, the Rebels have started strong, but slowed in the fourth quarter when their starters started cramping up and needed to take plays off. The heat hasn't helped, as Prep has played both games in the mid-afternoon through high temperatures.

"One of the things we're doing is we seem to have a problem when two or three of our starters go down and now we have guys in positions they've never played before," Harrison said. "So all this week in practice we are subbing and rotating goes in as if somebody goes down to prepare for that."

Harrison also worked with Villanova Prep to move this week's game to 10 a.m. to keep the game out of the heat as much as possible.

"My thing with them is because I went through what they're going through last year that I want to be sure not just our players but their players are all protected," Harrison said. "We're out there to play football, keep everybody safe and healthy, come out with a victory and hopefully everybody leaves with their rosters still intact."

St. Francis at La Mirada, 7 p.m. Friday: After opening with a pair of nonleague wins against Arcadia and Righetti, the Golden Knights figure to face their toughest test in La Mirada (2-1). Both teams are ranked in their respective division polls — St. Francis fourth in the Western Division and La Mirada second in the Southeast Division.

St. Francis got a quality performance from quarterback Jared Lebowitz, who completed 17 of 27 passes for 259 yards and three touchdowns, against Righetti on Friday. Lebowitz's main target was Joe Mudie, who caught a pair of second-half touchdowns and finished with six catches for 96 yards.

The Matadores will face a Mission League foe for the second time this season. They began their season with a 55-28 win against St. Paul. La Mirada followed with a 45-27 win against La Habra before suffering a 34-24 loss against Bishop Amat on Friday. The Matadores, who shared the Suburban League championship last season, present a high-profile offense averaging just under 42 points per game this season.

La Mirada will turn to quarterback Gerry Myres, who completed 22 of 38 passes for 234 yards against Bishop Amat.

La Cañada vs. Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field, 7 p.m. Friday: La Cañada will hit the road for the first time this season to take on cross-town rival Crescenta Valley in the third annual Gordy Warnock Memorial Game after the former Falcons coach died Sept. 22, 2010, two days before CV and the Spartans squared off.

Crescenta Valley has defeated La Cañada in each of the past five meetings with an average of 33.8 points per game after just scraping by the Spartans, 38-34, in 2010 and trouncing them last year, 35-14. La Cañada last defeated the Falcons on Sept. 8, 2006, when it registered a 14-8 victory.

The Spartans started strong this season under new coach James Sims with a 17-7 win over Alhambra at home before its offense shut down in a 21-3 loss to Glendale Friday. Andy Paynter, who ran for 159 yards against the Moors, was the Spartans' most productive player on offense with 50 yards on 17 carries against Glendale.

CV will make its home debut after splitting a pair of nonleague road contests against Santa Paula and San Marino. The Falcons suffered a 27-7 loss against San Marino on Friday, though wide receiver Jack Lutynski caught six passes for 82 yards.

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