St. Francis more than just a passing team

When most observers think about the offensive attack of the St. Francis football team, they point to the passing game under junior quarterback Darius Perrantes.

However, the Golden Knights can run the ball too. It’s one of the key components that has St. Francis (12-1) playing Rancho Verde (11-2) on Friday in the CIF-Southern Section Division 3 championship at home.

St. Francis has rushed for 2,300 yards while averaging six yards per carry. At the forefront of the attack is senior Elijah Washington. Last year, Washington rushed for 582 yards and scored six touchdowns. It’s been a different story this season as the senior has rushed for 1,000 yards (which includes his 226 yard performance with five touchdowns against La Salle) while scoring 16 touchdowns.

“I’ve been a team player at St. Francis since day one,” Washington said. “I am not surprised on what I do any night. I just love going out there and winning as a team. That the good part about what we are doing.”

It’s a family affair for the Washington family at St. Francis. Elijah’s older brother Zachary played football at the school from 2010-2013 and his father Kyle is currently the head Junior Varsity coach for the football program.

“I watched my brother go through the program – I am all about the program and all about the team,” commented Washington.

It was the 2013 season that made a huge impact on Washington.

“That team might have been the closest team I’ve ever seen at St. Francis,” Washington said. “They lost to Serra in the semifinals. Joe Mudie in the backfield and I learned a lot of stuff from him. He gave me some pointers on how to succeed in high school and I’ve just taken it from there.”

It’s all come full circle for Washington as he mentors his fellow teammate in the backfield, Kevin Armstead. A sophomore transfer from Chaminade, Washington sees a lot of potential in Armstead.

“He’s a great athlete and he’s only a sophomore – he’s got his whole future ahead of him,” Washington said. “Bringing him in, I had to show him the ropes and he had to learn the playbook, -so I taught him a lot about that.”

The long drought is over

The last time St. Francis made a CIF Southern Section football championship game was in 1964. The Golden Knights defeated Claremont 14-0 to repeat as Division AAA champions. One of the members of that team was Terry Terrazone, who is currently the assistant athletic director at St. Francis. He also has served as Athletic Director for the school along with a stint as head football coach.

“In those days, you had to win your league to make the playoffs,” Terrazone said. “The game is so much different than today. It was a more physical game with less throwing.”

Terrazone said the game was all about having a punishing running game and winning the field position battle.

“We did a crossing pulling with our lineman,” Terrazone noted. “A more misdirection type of running attack.”

State playoffs?

If the Golden Knights win on Friday night, they’ll qualify for the CIF State Playoffs. According to Mark Tennis of Cal Hi Sports, he has the Golden Knights projected to play in the Division II-AA regional final against Tulare Union High School. The Tribe just won the CIF Central Section Division 2 championship last week, defeating Dinuba 49-21.

“If Valencia wins in Division 2 and Paraclete wins in Division 5, those two are pretty close to each other so there would be interest in the CIF for that similar to San Clemente and Edison last year,” Tennis explained. “It’s certain St. Francis wouldn’t be higher than CIFSS Division 2 or LA City (Narbonne) or San Diego (Helix or Mission Hills) and probably Paraclete (CIFSS Division 5).

“That’s four teams in front and there you have it with Tulare in next division which is D2-AA. I would think St. Francis would be ahead of CIFSS Division 4 (Downey vs. Cajon) and San Diego Division 2 (Ramona) champion. I would have Tulare with home game (CIF Central Sec D1 team is likely traveling) but they could look at computer ranking and give it to a higher ranked team.”

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Like father, like Son, Covina’s Nin Burns II trying to win a championship like his father

When Covina High School won its last championship in 1995, beating Lompoc 23-21 for the CIF Southern Section Division 7 football title, then coach Dick Sheehan had a simple reason why the Colts won and ran the table that year to finish 14-0.

“We had Nin Burns on the team and they didn’t,” Sheehan said.

Burns was the Division 7 player of the year that season and earned a scholarship to the University of Utah.

After 22 years, Covina (11-2) returns to the championship on Friday against Katella (12-1) at Covina District Field for the Division 11 title, and guess who’s leading the way?

Burns’ son, Nin Burns II, the sophomore quarterback who has thrown for 2,440 yards and 30 touchdowns.

When Covina won its last championship in 1995, it also was at Covina District Field.

“It’s kind of cool I guess,” Burns II said.

Burns II isn’t the only sibling on the team. His younger brother, Damon Burns, is a freshman receiver/defensive back that has been called to varsity for the playoffs, and his time will come.

Burns II, however, has been the difference maker for the Colts all season, and he’s managed to take it up a notch in the playoffs, particularly the last two games.

He threw for 309 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing for 131 yards and a touchdown in a quarterfinal win over Westminster, and he was at it again in the semifinals, throwing for 250 yards and two touchdowns in a wild 57-56 overtime victory over Culver City.

He’s so young and so experienced that Covina coach Joe Brown just shakes his head sometimes.

“The kid just understands football,” Brown said of Burns II. “His football IQ is phenomenal and he wants to make every play, every time. It’s hard for him to just throw the ball away because he’s super competitive.

“One of the things I told him at the beginning of the year is that we’re really young. We have a couple sophomore receivers and a sophomore in the backfield (Erik Cuellar) and at times Nin gets frustrated. I just told him, not everyone is at your level yet, that’s your job to bring them to your level, and he’s done a great job of that.”

Sheehan has kept tabs on the Colts this season and see’s the similarity between father and son. They were different players. Burns, the dad, was a do-it-all receiver that returned punts, kickoffs and was a monster on both sides of the ball.

“The similarities are how elusive both of them are,” Sheehan said. “And they both seem to have that extra gear that when people think they’re closing in they are able to kick it into a higher gear and separate themselves from others.”

Colts assistant coach Kevin Glaspy is the only person on the Colts staff who was an assistant with Sheehan in 1995 and remembers how special dad was.

“He was so electrifying,” Glaspy said of Burns. “His game-breaking ability was phenomenal. People held their breath every time he touched the ball. Sometimes he only touched it five times a game, and those touches would be a punt return, kick return or an interception for a touchdown. He had that ability to change a game all by himself.”

Glaspy remembers Burns II on the freshman team last year. He was later called in at the end of the season because the Colts starting quarterback was injured and he led the Colts to a playoff victory.

What Glaspy remembers is what Brown also shared, that he understood the game far beyond his years. That, along with his ability is what makes him so dangerous.

“He was one of the smartest freshman players I’ve ever seen and to be a quarterback, that’s special.” Glaspy said. “He had some games where he’s calling his own audibles and making plays for touchdowns. He could call a game all by himself. It’s amazing he’s only a sophomore and doing what he’s doing.”

And if he can do it one more time he’ll have what his dad earned two decades ago, a championship ring.

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St. Francis, Covina reach titles games; Charter Oak, South El Monte bow out

St. Francis headed to first title game since 1964: After a 53-year hiatus, the St. Francis football team is back in the CIF Southern Section Final.And they can thank junior quarterback Darius Perrantes. The transfer from Crespi was 21 of 25 for 273 yards and four touchdowns as the Golden Knights (12-1) defeated El Toro 52-17 in a CIF-SS Division 3 semifinal. The Golden Knights will play Rancho Verde next Friday night at a site to be announced.“It was an unbelievable performance by our whole team tonight,” St Francis coach Jim Bonds said. “We scored on every one of our possessions in the first half. Darius was hot, our running backs were hot and our defense did a sensational job.”

Covina reaches championship for first time since 1995 with thrilling overtime win: Covina didn’t want to give Culver City’s high-powered offense another shot. The Centaurs (11-2) scored on their first play of overtime on a 25-yard run by Kevin McGuire to defeat Culver City 57-56 in the CIF Southern Section Division 11 semifinal game Friday night.
When the Colts got their shot, they fed Erik Cuellar, who rushed for 292 yards and five touchdowns and the senior delivered again by punching it in from 1 yard out on Covina’s possession in overtime. Then, that’s when Covina coach Joe Brown faced a big decision. He got some help from senior running back Ailaoa Tauvao, who told Brown that the Colts should go for the two-point conversion and the victory right there and then.”
Covina didn’t want to give Culver City’s high-powered offense another shot.
The Centaurs (11-2) scored on their first play of overtime on a 25-yard run by Kevin McGuire to defeat Culver City 57-56 in the CIF Southern Section Division 11 semifinal game Friday night.
When the Colts got their shot, they fed Erik Cuellar, who rushed for 292 yards and five touchdowns and the senior delivered again by punching it in from 1 yard out on Covina’s possession in overtime.
Then, that’s when Covina coach Joe Brown faced a big decision. He got some help from senior running back Ailaoa Tauvao, who told Brown that the Colts should go for the two-point conversion and the victory right there and then.

Charter Oak loses quarterback, then game: Charter Oak’s misfortune continued in the semifinals for the second consecutive year, losing quarterback Jalen Palacios in the third quarter with everything unraveling after that.
Rancho Verde (11-2) pulled away following Palacios’ injury to end Charter Oak’s undefeated season, knocking off the top seed 41-22 to advance to next week’s CIF Southern Section Division 3 championship against St. Francis, a 52-17 winner over El Toro.

Fight after Charter Oak game:

South El Monte falls in semifinals for second straight season: The South El Monte High football team found itself in familiar situations again this year. The team hosted a second straight CIF-SS semifinal game and, like last year, found itself within striking distance of the championship game to start the fourth quarter. Unfortunately for the Eagles, this year’s game ended in defeat like last year as Santa Maria surged to a 35-14 win in the Division 12 semifinal on Friday night.
“The season was a great year,” said South El Monte coach Frank Gallardo. “The boys showed a lot of character all year long. Tonight was just meant to be the end.”

Friday’s High School Football Semifinals and Predictions
Division 3

Rancho Verde 41, Charter Oak 22
St. Francis 52, El Toro 17
Division 11
Covina 57, Culver City 56
Division 12
Santa Maria 35, South El Monte 14

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Feel good stories on Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar and St. Francis tight end Greg Dulcich

Legendary coach Lou Farrar talks about retirement and his love for Charter Oak football: When you’ve been around as long as Charter Oak football coach Lou Farrar, the rumors and whispers are obvious.
After more than four decades in coaching, will the 72-year-old Farrar finally hang it up after the season?
“I’m still enjoying it too much,” Farrar said. “I have one grandson (Louis Farrar) on the team who is graduating and his little brother coming in next year as a freshman.”There’s your first hint.

St. Francis receiver Greg Dulcich shows why he’s the ultimate team player: When Greg Dulcich arrived for his first summer of football at St. Francis High School, coach Jim Bonds remembered a couple of things.
“He was a curly-haired freshman when he registered,” Bonds said. “And his size made him stand out from the rest of the others in his class.”
Fast forward four years, and it is a more physically mature Dulcich, now a senior, who has added mental maturity to his repertoire. That combination of skill and toughness has helped lead the Golden Knights (11-1) to the CIF Southern Section Division 3 semifinals, where it will be home on Friday against El Toro (8-4), hoping to advance to the championship after five straight semifinal losses since 2000.

Friday’s High School Football Semifinals
Division 3

Charter Oak at Rancho Verde, 7 p.m.
El Toro at St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Division 11
Covina at Culver City, 7 p.m.
Division 12
Santa Maria at South El Monte, 7 p.m.

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Last week was a wild night of survival of the fittest, and now just four remain in semifinal football playoffs

Last Friday was survival night for area football teams from the San Gabriel Valley, Whittier and Pasadena during the CIF Southern Section quarterfinals, leaving few teams to practice on Thanksgiving day.

When the night started there were 15 area teams vying for semifinal spots in eight different divisions, but when it was over, just three advanced to Friday’s semifinal games along with Covina, who punched its ticket on Thursday night.

There were heartbreakers all over the place.

Arroyo’s undefeated season came to an end on the road at Rancho Mirage in Division 11, losing in overtime, 27-21, against the same team it defeated in overtime last year to win the Division 12 title.

Also in Division 11, Arcadia blew a three touchdown lead to Katella, losing in overtime, 27-21.

Nogales, the second seed in Division 13, lost in double overtime on the road at Silver Valley.

South Hills, ranked No. 1 in Division 7 and Schurr, ranked No. 1 in Division 12, both had its seasons come to an unexpected end.

But the night wasn’t a total loss.

READ MORE: South El Monte’s versatility big reason to teams’ success

Charter Oak, St. Francis and South El Monte survived, and nothing was more gut-wrenching and exciting than Charter Oak’s incredible come-from-behind victory at Westlake, rallying from a 21-0 deficit to pull out a 39-28 victory to advance to Friday’s semifinals at Moreno Valley’s Rancho Verde.

Why was Charter Oak’s win so special? The Chargers are the top dogs in Division 3, are undefeated, and coach Lou Farrar, who has been around for four decades and won five championships, has never won coming behind like this.

Farrar said afterward this team has more heart than any team he’s ever been part of, and even for his longtime assistant like defensive coordinator Roger Lehigh, who has been there for more than 20 years, it was an emotional night he’ll never forget.

“It was the most dramatic game I’ve ever been a part of,” Lehigh said. “You saw us wear our heart on our sleeve. We’re an emotional group, a passionate group and we used words like ‘I love you’ and ‘fight the good fight.’

“The faith and belief in our program was tested like never before. It took every man, woman and child from the sidelines to the stands because part of the panic is you don’t want this journey to be over with. You’re fighting to live another day because you know what the struggle to get here is all about.

“You know, you want to be tested because adversity reveals character, and what we went through was powerful.”

Lehigh said the only positive following behind 21-0 was time.

“There was a lot of time left which allowed us to find a rhythm,” Lehigh said. “We made our adjustments then it was convincing the guys not to panic, just go one play, one series at a time and don’t get caught up trying to do it all at once, and that’s how we got back in it and gave ourselves a chance.”

St. Francis overcame an even bigger obstacle in the Division 3 playoffs, knocking off second seed Citrus Hill, 30-20, on the road thanks to a gutsy call by coach Jim Bonds in the fourth quarter to earn a home game in the semifinals on Friday against El Toro.

Leading 23-20, St. Francis lined up for a field goal on the nine yard line and faked it with Isaac Cordova throwing a touchdown pass to Conor McGrory for a 30-20 lead.

“That was a monster call,” Citrus Hill coach Eric Zamalt said afterward. “I thought we were going to hold them to a field goal and we’re going to go down and score and win 27-26. And this guy calls a fake? It was a great call.”

It was almost a call that never happened.

“We practice those fakes for several weeks and we watched film and we liked our chances if we got in the situation to go for it,” Bonds said. “The funny thing is, after we decided to go for it I didn’t like how they (Citrus Hill) lined up and I was starting to get cold feet. The ball is about to snap, and I was thinking are we do the right thing? I went to look for the side judge and was about to call timeout when the ball was snapped. We got away with one.”

For St. Francis and Bonds, the Golden Knights will play in their sixth semifinals since 2000, where Bonds will hope to end his 0-for-5 streak. St. Francis hasn’t played for a title since winning back-to-back championships in 1963 and ’64.

“We’ve hosted a few games Thanksgiving weekend,” Bonds said. “We’ll try to use this final home game to get it done. I’ve already started getting text messages from alumni and we’re expecting a huge crowd.”

And now, if Charter Oak and St. Francis both win on Friday, it will face each other in the championship with Charter Oak already winning the coin flip and being able to host the game at home or a nearby venue.

How about South El Monte in Division 12?

The Eagles’ season ended last year in the Division 13 semifinals to Rancho Christian and found themselves in another dogfight with the same team in the same situation, only in Division 12.

It went back and forth all night and South El Monte fell behind 35-28 entering the fourth quarter.

But quarterback Daniel Olmos not only threw two fourth quarter touchdowns to put the Eagles in front, but he also sealed the deal with an interception with 1:56 left to preserve a 42-35 victory.

Now all that stands in the way from South El Monte’s first championship appearance is Santa Maria, who has to make the long trip to South El Monte and beat the Eagles at the Swamp, which is no easy task.

All in all, it was a wild night. And if you were at the games or following on social media, you were probably talking about it all weekend.

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Charter Oak, St. Francis, South El Monte lone survivors on elimination night in the SGV

Friday’s Featured game stories and final scores

Charter Oak rallies to reach semifinals: At first, Charter Oak looked like it did not belong on the same field as Westlake, giving up 21 first-quarter points in the first quarter Friday.But the Chargers refused to quit and erased the deficit to defeat Westlake on the road 39-28 in the Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinals.
“I told this team to just play one down at a time,” Charter Oak coach Lou Farrar said. “Just play it one down at a time and one play at a time. This team has more heart then any team I have ever coached and I couldn’t be more proud.”

St. Francis makes bold fake-field goal call in fourth quarter to defeat Citrus Hill: St. Francis scored on a fake field goal in the fourth quarter en route to a 30-20 victory over Citrus Hill on Friday night in a CIF-Southern Section Division 3 quarterfinal round playoff game.
“I think we got away with one there,” St. Francis head coach James Bonds said. “That was huge.”
Isaac Cordova tossed it to Conor McGrory on 4th-and-9 from the 9 as St. Francis (11-1 overall) knocked off the No. 2 seed to earn a spot in the semifinals.
“We saw that it was a possibility on film, but I didn’t really like the look,” Bonds said. “(But) it’s just a couple of guys making big plays.”

Penalties doom Damien in loss: Capistrano Valley turned a close game at halftime into a rout with 21 points in the first three minutes of the third quarter and went on to defeat Damien, 34-7, in Friday’s CIF Southern Section Division 4 football quarterfinals.
Capistrano Valley (12-0), the top seed in Division 4, advances to the semifinals for the second straight year after reaching the Division 5 title game a year ago. The Cougars will face the winner between Corona Del Mar and Downey next week.

South El Monte wins rematch: In last season’s CIF-SS Division 12 semifinal, South El Monte and Rancho Christian entered halftime tied at two scores apiece.A year later, South El Monte and Rancho Christian entered halftime with the same score in Friday’s CIF-SS Division 12 quarterfinal.
In a back-and-forth second-round playoff matchup, all it took was an interception late in the game as South El Monte stopped Rancho Christian in its tracks to win 42-35 and advance to the division semifinals.

No. 1 South Hills falls to Burbank: With a No. 1 seed in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 playoffs, South Hills High School had a big target on its back.
Visiting Burbank took aim and came away with a 42-30 victory in a quarterfinal game Friday night.South Hills suffered a huge blow when senior starting quarterback RJ Stearns departed with an ankle injury in the second quarter and the Huskies (10-2) leading 17-10.

Montebello couldn’t overcome slow start: Apple Valley High running back Donovan Ferguson knew immediately after the snap that he had a chance.
After the Sun Devils forced a Montebello punt during Friday night’s CIF Southern Section Division 10 second-round playoff game, they handed the ball to Ferguson on an outside run from their own 11-yard line.

Late safety gives Saugus football edge over St. Paul: Saugus pulled out an improbable victory Friday night, recovering a fumble in the end zone for a safety with 2:46 remaining in the game en route to stunning St. Paul 28-27 in a CIF Southern Section Division 6 quarterfinal.
St. Paul (5-7) appeared to be on its way to the win after trailing by 12 points in the fourth quarter before scoring a pair of touchdowns to take the lead.

Rio Hondo Prep falls to Orange: Many people who know Joseph Martinez call him “Jo Jo.” They were also shouting, “Go! Go!” on Friday night when Martinez ran for 179 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries to lead Orange past Rio Hondo Prep, 27-14, in the second round of the CIF Southern Section Division 13 playoffs at El Modena High.
Martinez, who missed time earlier this season with hamstring and knee injuries, is all the way back now and said he was 100 percent “hyped up,” to lead the Panthers into the semifinals.

CIF Southern Section Playoffs
Friday’s Quarterfinal results
Division 3

Charter Oak 39, Westlake 28
St. Francis 30, Citrus Hill 20
Division 4
Capistrano Valley 24, Damien 7
Murrieta Mesa 54, Glendora 20
Division 6
Bishop Diego 59, San Marino 21
Saugus 28, St. Paul 27
Division 7
Burbank 42, South Hills 30
El Modena 35, Diamond Ranch 7
Division 10
Apple Valley 59, Montebello 28
Division 11
Katella 41, Arcadia 35, OT
Rancho Mirage 27, Arroyo 21, OT
Division 12
Santa Maria 42, Schurr 21
South El Monte 42, Rancho Christian 35
Division 13
Orange 27, Rio Hondo Prep 14
Silver Valley 35, Nogales 29, 3 OT

Friday’s Semifinals
Division 3

Charter Oak at Rancho Verde, 7 p.m.
El Toro at St. Francis, 7 p.m.
Division 11
Covina at Culver City, 7 p.m.
Division 12
Santa Maria at South El Monte, 7 p.m.

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Covina football punches tickets to semifinals for first time since 2011

Even when Covina looked comfortably ahead, you knew Westminster and its high-powered offense was capable of making a run —  and it did — but the Colts had enough in the tank to fend off every rally.

Covina got another big performance from quarterback Nin Burns II, who threw for 265 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for 105 yards and a touchdown, and defeated Westminster 42-28 in a CIF Southern Section Division 11 quarterfinal Thursday night at Covina District Field.

Covina (10-2) advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2011 and will await the winner of Friday’s quarterfinal between top seed Culver City (10-1) and Coachella Valley (9-2).

Covina opened the fourth quarter with Burns completing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Tristan Sprague to push the Colts’ lead to 14 points after Westminster (9-3) had scored 21 consecutive points to pull within a touchdown.

The Lions answered back on the ensuing drive, scoring on Christian Jaime’s 2-yard touchdown to cut the Colts’ lead to 35-28 with 7:37 to go.

But Burns answered back again, throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Danny Urrea with 5:42 left to go back up 14 points and that iced it.

“They made us work, absolutely,” Covina coach Joe Brown said. “We got off to this great start and thought we were rolling, then they came back. But our kids stepped up when we needed to and (Burns) was the difference maker for us. He put things in his hands and even called his own play and hit Urrea for a touchdown to close it out.”

Urrea hauled in nine passes for 121 yards and a touchdown and Sprague had seven receptions for 101 yards and a touchdown.

Westminster quarterback Noah Melbon had a solid night, throwing for 217 yards and two touchdowns, and Jaime rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns.

But the Lions fell down 28-0 and were chasing the Colts the rest of the night.

“Kids showed some heart and it’s going to eat at us forever,” Westminster coach Ted McMillen said. “We gave them three touchdowns, literally gave it to them. But our kids showed some heart to battle back so I’m proud of them. But it was a tough one to take.”

The first half was wild as Covina raced to a four-touchdown lead only to watch Westminster cut it in half by the break.

Even though Covina dominated the opening quarter, it didn’t get rewarded until Ailaoa Tauvao’s fourth-down run, hustling in from a yard to give the Colts a 7-0 lead with 2:13 to go in the quarter.

The Colts doubled the lead when Burns, who was just trying to get a first down on third-and-short, got outside and found a lane down the right side for a 68-yard touchdown and 14-0 lead.

Westminster was putting its best drive together and was getting ready to score when it fumbled the snap and Jacob Gregory recovered for the Colts.

Covina turned it into points a couple plays later when Burns found Sprague wide open down the left sideline for 55-yard touchdown and 21-0 lead halfway through the second quarter.

Things started really going bad for Westminster when Jaime had the ball stripped out of his hands by Gregory, who simply ran the other way untouched for a 62-yard touchdown and 28-0 lead.

But Westminster closed the half with two quick touchdowns.

After Melbon’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Malachi Mesa, the Lions got it back when the Colts coughed up the ball on the ensuing kickoff at their own 32.

The Lions made them pay. On fourth-and-8, Melbon dropped a perfect pass to the corner for Joel Navarro, who got a foot inbounds for the touchdown to cut the Colts’ lead to 28-14 with 1:40 to go until half.

Westminster made it 21 unanswered points on the opening drive of the third quarter when Jaime scored on a five yard run to cut the Colts’ lead to 28-21, but that’s as close as it would get.

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