St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds knows a thing or two about passing after playing quarterback at Hart High and UCLA. Bonds, whose team finished second in league behind Alemany, had the Golden Knights spend most of their practices this week preparing for Nielson.
“We are concerned about stopping the pass,” said Bonds, whose team capped the regular season Nov. 13 with a 32-25 come-from-behind league victory against Chaminade. “Any time you face a guy who has put up those kind of numbers and a 70% completion rate, you have to be.
“We know that Gahr will be another tough, hard-nosed football team that comes out of a tough league. We feel like our defense has had a good week of practice and are now ready to play.”
Gahr finished 6-4 and 3-2 in the San Gabriel Valley League behind Warren. The Gladiators, who finished up the regular season with a 42-7 league road win against Paramount, have seen wide receiver Josh Perkins catch 33 passes for 475 yards and nine touchdowns.
St. Francis figures to have two of its standout players back to full-time status after recovering from injuries the past several weeks.
Senior running back/defensive back Dietrich Riley, the reigning two-time All-Area Player of the Year, has recovered from a hamstring injury. Bonds said senior quarterback Justin Posthuma, who suffered a left-hand injury two weeks ago, will start tonight after entering the game in relief of Brett Nelson to lead the Golden Knights past Chaminade.
“Dietrich has practiced all week and should be ready to go,” Bonds said. “Justin has gone through drills at practice.
“We want to be able to use last week’s comeback to help catapult us [into the playoffs]. It’s now win or go home, so there are no excuses not to come out fired up.”
Riley said trying to stop Nielson will be the top priority for the Golden Knights, who were eliminated in the first round last season.
“We must reroute their receivers,” Riley said. “We don’t want them to run straight.
“We know that their quarterback likes to roll out toward the sidelines. It’s going to be our toughest challenge, but we want to face challenges.”
The St. Francis-Gahr winner will meet fourth-seeded Palmdale or Santa Monica in a second-round game Nov. 27. The semifinals will be held Dec. 5 and the championship contest will take place Dec. 11.