For most of the first half of the season, the St. Francis High football team found itself in its share of close nonleague games. St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds doesn’t expect anything to change when the Golden Knights kick off Mission League at 7 p.m. Friday against host Cathedral.
“In the Mission League, week in and week out, you are expecting a dog fight,” said Bonds, whose team is 3-2 and ranked No. 8 in the latest CIF Southern Section Western Division poll. “More so now at this stage of the season.
“You can’t afford to look past anybody in our league. No matter who you are facing, it’s going to take a lot of focus and preparation. We are up for it.”
St. Francis has seen its last four games decided by eight points or less, including a 17-13 nonleague home loss against Monrovia on Friday. The Golden Knights appeared poised for a last-minute victory against Monrovia, but turned the ball over on a fumble inside the Monrovia one-yard line.
Bonds said the Golden Knights have since put the defeat behind them and have begun their preparations for a Cathedral squad that 5-0 and ranked No. 5 in the Western Division.
Cathedral will turn to senior quarterback Hayden Rettig, who saw his season end early last year after he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus against Pasadena. The Louisiana State University-bound Rettig has thrown 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions this season, something Bonds, a former quarterback at UCLA, has made mention of to his players.
“He’s big and strong and can make the throws,” Bonds said. “We are going to have to be disciplined defensively.
“They are putting up lots of points and it’s going to be a huge challenge to slow them down.”
Cathedral is averaging 46.6 points per game this season. The Phantoms had a bye last week after registering a 53-14 nonleague win against Cantwell-Sacred Heart on Sept. 21.
Cathedral Coach Kevin Pearson said he's expecting a close game.
“St. Francis is well-coached and they don't make many mistakes,” Pearson said. “I think the league is extremely strong.
“With a game like this, it could come down to special teams being important. Hayden has been throwing the ball better. He's got that quick release and the ball comes out of his hand nicely.”
St. Francis quarterback Jared Lebowitz completed 16 of 27 passes for 174 yards against Monrovia. Running back Daniel Kawamura had 70 yards rushing in 21 carries and scored a touchdown.
“Lebowitz is a good quarterback, and he makes their team go,” Pearson said.
On the final week of last season, St. Francis recorded a 54-8 home win against Cathedral. The Golden Knights are 2-0 against the Phantoms since Cathedral joined the Mission League in 2010.
Burroughs vs. Crescenta Valley at Moyse Field, 7 p.m. Thursday: Crescenta Valley played arguably its best game of the season en route to a 17-14 Pacific League win against Pasadena on Friday. The Falcons will look to ride their latest wave off momentum against Burroughs, which shared the league championship with Arcadia last season.
Crescenta Valley (3-2, 1-1 in league) will face a Burroughs squad that’s 1-4, 1-1. Burroughs opened its season with four straight losses before rallying to beat visiting Glendale, 24-7, on Sept. 27.
Crescenta Valley turned to backup quarterback Joe Torres to beat Pasadena. Torres, who filled in for quarterback Ben Rees because of injury/illness, completed seven of 11 passes for 71 yards and also rushed for a touchdown.
Burroughs has turned to running back Garrett Manoukian, who has scored four touchdowns in his last three games. He had a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns against Glendale.
Burroughs has had the upper hand lately against Crescenta Valley, including a 35-22 win last season. The Indians have won six of the last eight meetings and are 4-2 against the Falcons since joining the Pacific League in 2006. Crescenta Valley last topped Burroughs in 2008, when it registered a 34-32 victory.