The following are previews of the area's upcoming high school football games this week.
After several tight games in 2012, the St. Francis High football team has pretty much cruised through the first three weeks of 2013.
Friday figures to be the start of the more intense portion of the Golden Knights' schedule, as they prepare for vaunted Mission League competition against teams with ties to CIF Southern Section championships.
“Just looking at the way our schedule is laid out it just seems like it gets tougher every week,” said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team is ranked sixth in the Western Division. “We really expected La Mirada to be a little tougher than they ended up being. This week, Damien presents another challenge for us.
“I don’t hope for any close games, I have had too many of those in my career.”
For the third week in a row, St. Francis will stay at Friedman Field and host Damien, one of two teams the Knights didn’t see last year and one they haven’t seen in Bonds’ years at the helm.
Much like St. Francis, Damien has a reliable quarterback and running back tandem. Senior Brendan Callen has completed 37 of 66 passes for 606 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Damien relies heavily on its run game and has attempted 108 rushes with Leroy Cloud (354 yards, one touchdown) getting a team-high 22 carries.
“They have a really nice looking tailback that’s shifty, when he gets alone in the open field he’s going to be hard to tackle,” Bonds said. “I think they like to establish the run and they’re also pretty good at stopping the run. That’s the kind of football they play in that area of CIF, it’s kind of a run-dominated league they play there. They build their defense toward that.”
Damien is 2-1 and is on a winning streak over Palm Desert (49-14) and St. Paul (34-18) and a season-opening loss to Orange Lutheran (36-10).
“We don’t know a whole lot about [Damien], we’ve never played them since I’ve been at St. Francis,” Bonds said. “You throw into the equation they have a brand new coach who I know less about and we have basically three games to look at. They’re pretty much a pro-style offense and a defense we’ve seen before and definitely hope we can find some ways to attack them.”
St. Francis has been impossible to beat so far at 3-0 with a blend of offensive execution and defensive intensity. Offensively, seniors Ty Gangi and Joe Mudie are anchoring the Knights' offense at quarterback and running back, respectively.
After completing 16 of 25 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns in last week's 49-20 win over La Mirada, Gangi is 45 of 68 for 671 yards, eight touchdowns and two picks this year.
Mudie enjoyed a career night last Friday at Friedman Field against La Mirada, as he totaled 205 offensive yards (131 rushing on 15 carries, 74 receiving on five catches) and returned a kickoff 99 yards for a score — one of his four.
“We read a lot about Joe Mudie and Ty Gangi but there’s been a lot of guys that have played really well,” Bonds said. “Guys that maybe have been overlooked is our offensive line has done an outstanding job. Trevor Provencio, our center, he was actually our offensive player of the week last week. … He makes all our calls on the line, gets the protections sliding the right way. He’s really smart and big strong kid so it’s nice to have him right in the middle of our offensive line.”
Flintridge Prep at Frazier Mountain, 7 p.m.: The season hasn’t gone as hoped or expected for Flintridge Prep. The Rebels will take another long road trip, as they’ll travel about 68 miles to Lebec to take on Frazier Mountain.
On the year, Frazier Mountain is 3-1 with wins over Albert Einstein Academy (82-22), Grace Brethren (34-28) and Vasquez (40-37) and a loss to Ribet Academy (27-22).
Frazier Mountain’s offense is all on the ground, with 16 rushing touchdowns to three passing. Leading a stable of backs is senior Riley Daniels, who has 397 yards and four touchdowns on 43 carries. Matt Regan (266 yards, 33 carries), Daniel Andrade (183 touchdowns, 17 carries), Thomas Neirhoff (183 yards, 21 carries) and Weston Wells (116 yards, 16 carries) also have three rushing touchdowns.
Availability of Flintridge Prep’s primary offensive weapon, Stefan Smith, is up in the air. The senior running back suffered what appeared to be a lower-leg injury after going for 16 yards and a two-point conversion on four carries in a 42-14 loss to Boron.
Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison said Smith was day-to-day in an email Wednesday morning, as the coaching staff would evaluate what he could do in practice throughout the week.
With limited use of Smith, the Rebels were held to just 206 offensive yards and gave up 439 in Boron.
After joining the team late in the year, Kyle Hamane had 51 yards on 12 carries. Andrew Tsangeos and Riley Jones also connected on a 25-yard pass for one of the team’s touchdowns, while Tsangeos ran in the other.
La Cañada at Eagle Rock, 6 p.m.: After opening the year with two wins, the Spartans’ nonleague schedule has ramped up starting with last week’s 42-14 loss to Crescenta Valley and continuing with a trip to Eagle Rock Friday night.
Eagle Rock posted a 25-7 victory at La Cañada in 2012 and has started 2013 with a perfect 4-0 record with victories over Jefferson (42-6), Torres (38-6) and two Rio Hondo League teams in South Pasadena (40-15) and Temple City (29-8). The Spartans will not only have a chance to improve to 3-1, but get a good read on how they’ll stack up in a three-team race for a playoff spot in Rio Hondo.
La Cañada will look to get its offense back on track after it had just 174 yards at home last week. Robbie Fuelling completed six of 18 passes for 113 yards and Mario Martinez led the running game with 39 yards on 16 carries. Donnie Breneman scored both the Spartans touchdowns on short runs in the loss.