St. Francis football pulls away from Canyon

CANYON COUNTRY — St. Francis High Coach Jim Bonds wasn't the least bit happy with his team's performance in the first half of Friday's nonleague game against Canyon Country Canyon.

So the coach let his team have it in the locker room.

Bonds was displeased with the way the Golden Knights executed on offense during the first two quarters. As a result of that play, St. Francis went into the break tied with the Cowboys at one touchdown apiece after generating just 81 yards of total offense in the opening half.

The halftime motivation seemed to do the trick for the Golden Knights, who came out and moved the ball better on offense in the second half. St. Francis scored three unanswered touchdowns in the half to create some breathing room and walked away with a 35-20 victory against host Canyon.

The win keeps the Golden Knights (4-0), ranked No. 2 in the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division, undefeated on the season.

"At halftime, it wasn't a pleasant mood in that locker room," Bonds said. "We were just frustrated offensively. Out defense only gave up one touchdown and we spotted them that so we couldn't be mad at our defense. But it was just a lack of execution on offense."

Some of that frustration likely came from some different defensive looks by the Cowboys. After a loss last week to Burbank, Canyon Coach Rich Gutierrez made some changes with schemes and staff members. The Cowboys brought a great deal of pressure on defense, often rushing seven players.

"They had a different game plan and they made some switches with the staff over there and had some different coordinators," Bonds said. "It was definitely different and it's not what we saw of them the last three games, four games. They had much more of a pressure package."

After Canyon (1-4) tied the score at 14 in the third quarter, the Golden Knights took control of the game and scored 21 unanswered points.

St. Francis made it 21-14 on a one-yard plunge by Gabriel Grbavac with 1:22 left in the third. It carried the momentum into the fourth and, when Jasher Foster (three catches for 65 yards) hauled in a 43-yard finger-tip touchdown reception from quarterback Miles Bryant (seven of 10 for 113 yards and one touchdown) with 9:19 remaining, the Golden Knights enjoyed a 28-14 cushion.

Less than two minutes later, Areg Nazarian (15 carries for 90 yards) scored from five yards out to increase the cushion to 35-14 with 7:35 left.

"We're inexperienced up front and we have some young guys and sometimes that shows," Bonds said. "We just had a lack of intensity in that first half that I wasn't pleased with. …But I thought we improved on that in the second half."

St. Francis opened the game on a positive note by driving 65 yards for a touchdown. Bryant scored on a delayed draw and scampered 13 yards to put the visitors on top, 7-0.

On Canyon's next possession, it was forced to punt. However, the punt was mishandled and fumbled by the Golden Knights. The ball was recovered on the St. Francis 22-yard line by the Cowboys. It took only three plays for Canyon to score and tie the game at 7, which is how the first half ended.

On its second possession of the third quarter, the Golden Knights went ahead, 14-7, after a five-yard scoring run by Grbavac with 7:38 left.

"I was happy that I got the opportunity on those short-yardage situations," said Grbavac, who had three carries for seven yards. "I'm confident in situations like that."

Canyon tied the score at 14 with 4:43 left in the third.

Canyon received 110 yards rushing in 16 carries from Henry Arellano.