Close games have mostly been a common occurrence when the St. Francis High and St. Paul football teams get together.
In three of the previous five meetings, the Golden Knights and Swordsmen have taken part in three games decided by six points or less.
While St. Francis and St. Paul will be absent from the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs, St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds expects another close contest when the teams meet in a season finale Mission League game at 7:30 p.m. Friday at St. Francis’ Friedman Field.
“There are going to be a lot of pride with the players,” said Bonds, whose team is 3-6, 0-4 in league and will look to end a five-game losing streak. “I don’t expect the St. Paul players to phone it in and we will be ready.
“I think it will be a dogfight until the end.”
St. Francis will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2007, when St. Paul posted a 7-3 victory against host St. Francis in a winner-take-all contest for the last automatic playoff spot out of the Mission League. The Swordsmen went on to capture a CIF championship.
Since then, the Golden Knights have won four straight meetings against the Swordsmen. St. Francis posted a 28-22 win in last season’s contest and are 5-3 in the last eight games against St. Paul.
St. Paul (1-8, 0-4) has lost six games in a row since picking up a 34-20 nonconference victory against La Habra on Sept. 7.
Bonds said the Golden Knights will try to prolong St. Paul’s misery.
“To do that, we need to play with more consistency,” Bonds said. “We are still trying to piece it all together.”
St. Francis got six catches for 120 yards from wide receiver Tommy Scheper and 65 yards rushing in 22 carries from running back Daniel Kawamura in a 42-14 league home loss against Chaminade on Friday.
St. Paul is coming off a 54-6 league loss against Serra on Friday.
St. Francis’ last two losses have been lopsided defeats to Chaminade and Serra, but previously all its losses had been by seven points or less. And all of the Golden Knights’ six losses have come against teams that were at one time ranked in their division’s respective top five.