BORON — Just as the Flintridge Prep football team looked as though it was ready for a shootout with host Boron, everything came to a screeching halt for the Rebels.
Down by a score after the teams found the end zone on the game’s first three drives, Flintridge Prep saw All-Area standout running back Stefan Smith go to the ground with an injury, the Boron sideline cheer with questionable enthusiasm and the Rebels’ offensive firepower take a major hit.
“I’ve done a poor job of preparing these boys for football,” Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison said. “The performance in the last three games is a reflection of my poor coaching and decision-making, thus far. I apologize to the boys, coaching staff, fans, school, my family and [the media] for having to drive out here.”
It was the second lopsided loss in three weeks, as Prep lost to Meadows of Nevada, 36-20. Consequently, both games featured lengthy road trips — roughly a 750-mile combined round trip — and both games saw Smith dinged up.
“He can’t be the whole team,” said Harrison of Smith, who was held to four carries for 16 yards and a two-point conversion due to what appeared to be a lower-leg injury. “We just can’t give all the burden to Stefan.”
Prep was held to just 206 yards of offense (83 yards passing on 16 attempts, 123 rushing on 35 plays), while the Bobcats (1-2) were every bit the faster and bigger team in gaining their first win and gaining 439 yards of offense.
“I put some tough teams on our schedule,” Harrison said. “This is where we need to be if we want to be the program I want us to be.”
On just the second play of scrimmage, Boron running back Jadrian Wiser scampered 42 yards for a touchdown and a 6-0 lead. It was a sign of bad fortune to come for the Rebels, as Wiser had touchdown runs of 42 and 89 yards, a touchdown catch of 19 yards and an 89-yard punt return for a score all in the first half. He finished with 176 yards in nine carries, while running back DJ Payne, who threw the touchdown to Wiser, added 174 yards and two touchdowns in 16 carries.
The Rebels didn’t flinch, however, in answering Boron’s first score.
Kyle Hamane (12 carries for 51 yards) ran 30 yards on the Rebels’ first play from scrimmage. Two plays later, Andrew Tsangeos hit Riley Jones on a 25-yard option pitch pass. Smith, who didn’t touch the ball on the drive, then bulled in for a two-point conversion and an 8-6 lead to go in the quarter.
Both teams tried unsuccessful onside kicks to that point, thus Boron had a short field and went right back ahead, 12-8. Boron missed all of its conversion attempts in the game, whether kicking or trying to run in a conversion.
Prep looked to answer on its subsequent short field after another onside kick, but on the second play, Smith fumbled and did not get to his feet. The Rebels recovered possession, but did not recover in terms of the game.
Making matters worse, the Bobcats, upon seeing Smith down, started cheering, likely at the prospect of Prep losing its star player.
Smith returned on the last Rebels drive of the first half, rushing three times for 12 yards, but was clearly missing his usual mobility and explosiveness and didn’t return in the second half.
Following his injury, the Rebels gained just 150 yards after opening up with 56 yards in four plays.
Boron ran the lead up to 42-8 before the Rebels finally answered, finishing with a 24-8 halftime lead as Wiser’s punt return and touchdown catch continued an avalanche of big plays. Payne scored on an 81-yard run on Boron’s first play from scrimmage in the second half to put the game to rest for all intents and purposes.
Tsangeos (seven carries for 54 yards) ran it in from a yard out to conclude the scoring.
Alas, it no doubt made for another long drive home for the Rebels, who will make another lengthy trip to play Frazier Mountain in their next game with the hopes of coming home with the season’s first win.