The following are previews of the area's upcoming high school football games this week.
Pacific League play is little more than a week away and there's nothing the Hoover High football team would like more than to get a win going into the truly meaningful portion of its season, if for no other reason than a simple morale boost.
"The confidence thing for us is huge right now," said first-year Tornadoes Coach Andrew Policky, whose team is 0-2 to start the year and winless in its last nine going back to the third week of last season when it beat the very same Vikings, 45-38, that it will face today at 7 p.m. at Moyse Field. "That's something that we're seriously lacking. That part of it is our big focus this week and moving forward this season — how do we get our kids to believe that they can be successful?"
Another win over the Vikings (2-1) would certainly be a start, although the Tornadoes have a starkly different look than the version that rung up 45 points in last year's meeting, having scored just 12 combined points over the first two weeks in losses to Glendale and South Pasadena.
"I think we're just trying to figure out an identity for ourselves right now," said Policky, who, upon taking over for former Coach Chris Long in May, installed a West Coast offense in place of the spread formation favored by his predecessor. "Our offense is almost like a blank slate the way that it's set up, we can do a lot of different things out of it. We just have to figure out how it's best suited to our kids and start to tailor that and pare it down. If we can just pare it down and find some things that we can hang our hat on and that we're good at and we can build off of that."
Defensively, the Tornadoes have not fared well against run-heavy teams. South Pasadena rolled up 289 rushing yards in a 39-6 win on Thursday and now, after facing two wing T teams in Glendale and South Pasadena, the field will get even more condensed when Hoover goes up against the double-wing T of the Vikings.
"It's different from anything else that we see, so it's tough to simulate in practice, but we've seen it before, so that's good for us," Policky said. "Even the wing T teams that we've seen like Glendale and South Pas leading up to this are way different than we're going to see this week.
"They're going to try to grind it out and we just have to step up to the challenge and be physical."
Mountain View, which attempted just two passes in Thursday's 16-14 win over Sierra Vista, is led by senior Ignacio Castanada with 420 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
Glendale vs. South Pasadena, 7 p.m. Friday: There doesn't figure to be much contrast in styles from one possession change to the next when the Nitros (1-1) and the Tigers (1-1) meet with one thing in common — a proclivity for the wing T.
"They run the exact same offense we do," Glendale Coach Alan Eberhart said. "When I watch them on film, it's exactly what we're supposed to be doing. They run the ball."
The Nitros will look to get back to that on Friday after throwing an uncharacteristic 37 passes in last week's 16-14 loss to La Cañada. Former quarterback turned running back Alex Yoon, who rushed for 164 yards in the season opener against Hoover and has three touchdowns this season, leads the ground attack, while receiver Mike Davis (194 receiving yards on the season) is a big weapon for quarterback Evan Norton.
Against Hoover last week, South Pasadena, which is piloted by former Flintridge Prep Coach Marty Konrad, got a fast start from running back Yihai Han (58 rushing yards in six carries), who scored twice in the first quarter, while Harvey Talento (95 yards in five carries) and Nathan Lee (83 yards in eight carries) both ended up with more total rushing yards by the end of the blowout.
Glendale will be looking to take a winning record into Pacific League play for the first time since 2008, when the team started 3-0.
"We're just hoping for a good match," Eberhart said. "We said at the beginning of our preseason that if we could come out of it 2-1, we would be thrilled, and we have the opportunity to do that."
St. Francis at Venice, 7 p.m. Friday: After squeaking out a three-point win over Arcadia to open the season, St. Francis (2-0) picked up some steam with a big win over Crescenta Valley on Friday in what Golden Knights Coach Jim Bonds called the best defensive performance he's seen in his 11 years at St. Francis.
Now, the Golden Knights, ranked fifth in the CIF Southern Section Western Division, head into an intersectional matchup with the host Gondoliers (1-1), who will be looking to avenge a 31-13 loss from last season.
With a steady diet of Mission League opponents on its nonleague schedule, Venice has already played two of St. Francis' league mates in Harvard-Westlake and Chaminade, beating the Wolverines, 34-27, and falling to the Western Division No. 1-ranked Eagles, 41-21, last week.
"They're a very talented football team," Bonds said. "It will be a good barometer for us to go down and play them at Venice and we'll hopefully find out a little bit more about our team on Friday night."
St. Francis' defense is coming off a monster game with seven sacks and two interceptions, including a 97-yard return for a touchdown by Travis Talianko.
Transfer quarterback Jared Lebowitz passed for a pair of touchdowns to Parker Nieves and Christian Hess against CV, but also was intercepted once.
"He's coming along," Bonds said of Lebowitz. "He was a little more comfortable against Crescenta Valley, but still made some ill-advised throws.
"It was a great performance by our defense. Our offense still has a way to go."
Crescenta Valley at La Cañada, 7 p.m. Friday: Recent nonleague contests between the Falcons and Spartans have been close on the scoreboard, with the last two being decided by four points or fewer, but the rivalry overall has been one-sided in favor of Crescenta Valley, the winner of the last four.
The Falcons (1-1) will look to keep that trend going, while also hoping to bounce back from their first loss of the season last week, a 35-0 defeat at the hands of another intercity rival, St. Francis.
A stellar defensive effort by the Golden Knights effectively suppressed Crescenta Valley's offense, which has more than enough weapons in quarterback Zac Wilkerson, running backs Marro Lee and William Wang and others to bounce back in a big way against the Spartans (1-1).
La Cañada figures to hit the Falcons with a relentless rushing attack after finding success against another Pacific League team, Glendale, last week. Behind a tailback-by-committee approach, the Spartans rolled up 200 yards on the ground, but will have a slightly bigger and certainly deeper defensive line to contend with than the Nitros'.