Feature Football Game: La Salle, St. Francis Meet Friday in Angelus League Showdown; Golden Knights and Lancers Take First Step Towards Playoff Spot

La Salle (4-1) at St Francis (5-0) In undoubtedly the biggest head-to-head game of the regular season for Pasadena-area schools, La Salle and St. Francis meet up Friday night in the Angelus League opener in La Canada. La Salle is coming off its bye week, and two weeks ago, a 28-25, triple-overtime win in Scottsdale, […]

La Salle (4-1) at St Francis (5-0)

In undoubtedly the biggest head-to-head game of the regular season for Pasadena-area schools, La Salle and St. Francis meet up Friday night in the Angelus League opener in La Canada.

La Salle is coming off its bye week, and two weeks ago, a 28-25, triple-overtime win in Scottsdale, Arizona.

St. Francis is back to work after knocking off and dominating previously unbeaten Buena Park last Friday.

In its first two years in the Angelus League, La Salle has yet to win a league game, but this is a much more skilled and experienced team.

There is no secret that La Salle senior running back Amon Milliner will likely be the game’s impact player.

Milliner, who is considered one of the southern section’s premiere backs, has numbers most running backs would be proud to call a season.

In five games, Milliner has over 1,100 yards and 12 TD runs.

If La Salle is able to consistently open holes for the speedy senior, its chances of victory are high.

If, however, the stingy St. Francis defense is able to stack the box and keep Milliner in check, a lot of pressure then transfers to the shoulders of senior quarterback Jake Caan.

Caan has over 800 yards and 8 TD passes, and doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

The Golden Knights are coming off their best defensive effort of the year, as they shut down a Buena Park offense that was averaging 49 points per game, and held the Coyotes to a fraction of that.

Junior linebacker Gabriel Grbavac’s imprint will also be a huge factor on Friday. Along with Grbavac’s pressure on Milliner and Caan, leading tackler Maxx Jakeway and Daniel Scott, who has a team-best 4 interceptions, will play enormous roles in a potential victory.

Jace Harrick and Elijah Washington have 7 combined TD’s and 450 yards. They both bring different styles to the St. Francis running game, and both have been very effective.

Michael Bonds has come into his own the last few weeks, and has over 800 yards and 11 TD passes.

Receiver/defensive back Daniel Scott was unanimously mentioned when we interviewed La Salle players and coaches on Tuesday as someone that must be contained.

Scott is as pure an athlete as anyone on the field, and his contributions on both sides of the field are equally vital.

Scott has 6 TD catches and has over 300 yards receiving. His four interceptions and crunching tackles/breaking up passes, though, may be even more important than what he’s even done on the offensive side.

If the Lancers earn its first victory in Angelus League play some two years after joining, Milliner would have likely had a big game, and Myles Cecil and Jake Rose will have led a Lancers defensive stand that kept the running game of Harrick/Washington in check, as well as putting a lot of pressure on Bonds.

One player coming into his own of late for La Salle is wide receiver Harrison MacDonald, who is a deep threat and has a team-best 6 TD’s. MacDonald seems to make big plays when the Lancers most need them.

With five total league games and Cathedral at 5-0, Salesian (4-1), and St. Paul and Harvard-Wesklake both at 3-2, each Angelus game has enormous ramifications.

Quotable:

La Salle Coach Russell Gordon: “Just playing St. Francis is a tall order. We need to slow down (quarterback Michael Bonds), and (receiver Daniel Scott) is a phenomenal player. They are peaking as a team, but I think we are as well. Jake Caan will be extremely important, and we’ll need to spread the ball around, but that’s no secret and something we do every game. Every team has known they had to stack the box and stop (Amon Milliner). We got placed in a division that is very tough to us, but we feel happy to be in this league. We feel some urgency to win. If we don’t turn the ball over and limit their big plays, we love our chances on Friday.”

St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds: (Milliner) is a special running back and he is electric, but he’s not all they have. When they need to throw it, they have a quarterback (Jake Caan) who can throw it. We expect a dogfight like we’ve had the last three weeks. A lot of credit for our defense goes to (coordinator) Mark Gibbons and our defensive staff. He always has a great game plan and it’s up to the boys to go out and execute it. Any time you have a running back (Milliner) with over 1,000 yards in 5 games, that’s an eye opener. They do what they do very well. We have to eliminate big plays.”

Keys to the game:

For La Salle: Can Milliner continue his 200-plus yards on the ground, including averaging 2 TDs per game? If Milliner is kept in check, can Jake Caan shoulder the responsibility and lead the Lancers to a victory in the air. Can La Salle block the very stubborn defensive front from St. Francis? Will the Lancers minimize penalties that have hurt them in the past?

For St. Francis: How much time can Jace Harrick and Elijah Washington take off the clock by controlling the time possession battle with the running game? Can Michael Bonds continue to lead the Golden Knights as well as he’s done of late and without any turnovers? Will Gabriel Grbavac be able to continue his giving opposing quarterbacks nightmares with his relentless pressure? Will Daniel Scott continue to dominate on both sides of the ball?

*** For pregame player and coach interviews, please watch our video above where each side discusses strengths and weaknesses, as well as keys to victory.

How They Match Up By the Numbers:

CIF Rankings:
La Salle #2 in Division 9; St. Francis #4 in Division 3

Skilled players statistical comparison:

Quarterbacks:
Jake Caan (LS) 64 of 92 for 802, 8 TD, 2 Int
vs
Michael Bonds (SF) 51 of 82 for 814 yards, 11 TD, 3 INT

Rushing:
Amon Milliner (LS) 102 carries for 1024 yards, 12 TD’s
vs
Jace Harrick (SF) 41 carries for 246 yards, 2 TDs; and Elijah Washington (SF) 27 carries for 198 yards, 5 TDs.

Receivers:
Harrison MacDonald 21 catches for 386 yards, 6 TD
vs
Daniel Scott 16 catches for 310 yards, 6 TD

Point Differental Through 5 Games:
La Salle: 173 points scored, 72 points allowed
St. Francis: 163 points scored, 75 points allowed

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