St. Francis High football ready for Mission League opener at St. Paul

With the biggest win of its season in its back pocket, the 5-0 St. Francis High football team now has something to prove in the Mission League.

The Golden Knights will take to the road Friday to face a winless St. Paul team it defeated last year, 34-13, at 7 p.m.

“We're excited about moving into league this week. … St. Paul is 0-5 on the season and our approach is that this is a brand new season because it's the beginning of league,” St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds said. “Everyone starts from scratch here, everyone goes 0-0 into league.”

With an average 30.2 margin of victory this year, the Knights jumped from sixth to No. 4 in the CIF Southern Section Western Division this week with a 48-14 win over Monrovia, the No. 1 team in the Mid-Valley Division, last Friday.

While each week seems to bring a different standout, St. Francis has relied on quarterback Ty Gangi, running back Joe Mudie and wide receiver Dylan Crawford week-in and week-out. The Knights have also benefited from a solid offensive line and defense that's allowing just 13.4 points a game.

In the win at Monrovia, Gangi completed 12 of 26 passes for 305 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for 23 yards and two scores on six carries and caught an eight-yard touchdown pass from Matt Gonzalez.

Crawford logged four receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns, while Mudie produced 123 yards from scrimmage (65 rushing, 58 receiving) and a score.

St. Francis' core three will look to stay on their game against the Swordsmen. While St. Paul is winless, it has played a tough nonleague schedule against teams like Buena Park (40-20), Mater Dei (56-7), La Habra (41-7) Damien (34-18) and Bishop Amat (49-10).

“They've played some extremely tough teams and they're not going to be surprised by us when we take the field,” Bonds said. “Our message to our team is to be 1-0 in league this week.”

Pasadena Poly vs. Flintridge Prep at Occidental College, 7 p.m.: Having shown some late promise in its final two nonleague games, Flintridge Prep opens the Prep League looking to put it at all together.

The Rebels (0-5) and Panthers (4-0) have had completely different nonleague experiences. Prep fell out of the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division rankings and Poly ascended right near the top, currently ranked No. 2.

After posting a strong 46-33 win over Pasadena Poly last year, Flintridge Prep will probably not be taken lightly by its league rival.

Good news for the Rebels is there didn't appear to be any setback to Stefan Smith, their lead running back and most prominent offensive weapon. The senior had 11 carries for 64 yards and three catches for 44 yards in last week's 47-20 loss to Heritage Christian after missing the previous game with injury.

If nothing else, the Rebels will be happy to be back home after playing road games the past four weeks that amounted to roughly 965 total miles round trip.

Blair at La Cañada, 7 p.m.: Riding a three-game losing streak into Rio Hondo League play, the Spartans open at home against the one league foe they bested in 2012.

This week figures to be a much more favorable matchup for La Cañada. The Spartans stayed close with Arroyo, the No. 2 team in the Mid-Valley Division, but still dropped their homecoming game, 34-10.

Blair (0-5) walks into La Cañada without a win and averaging 3.2 points a game and allowing 55.8 on defense. After winning their first two, the Spartans have struggled on the offensive end in their last three losses to Crescenta Valley (42-14), Eagle Rock (35-0) and Arroyo.

La Cañada's running game, led by Jadon Henry, Mario Martinez and Donnie Breneman, should be able to build some confidence against a Vikings team it defeated, 42-0, last year. It'll become much tougher after Blair, as La Cañada will face top-ranked teams in the Mid-Valley Division — San Marino (No. 4) and Monrovia (No. 1) afterward.

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