"That's as much change as we've ever had since I've been here, from one year to the next" said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds. "It'll be interesting."
For starters, the Mission League has undergone a huge transformation, reverting back to a six-team league and losing defending champion Alemany in the process.
Having gone to a four-team configuration in seasons past, the Mission League teams also had to play a pair of nonleague games against Serra League foes, a Pac-5 Division powerhouse of a likewise four-team league.
That too changed with the Mission League's current makeup of St. Francis, old foes Chaminade and St. Paul, the returning Harvard-Westlake and debuting Cathedral and reigning state champion Serra.
But the changes begin earlier than Mission League play for the Golden Knights, who will look to duplicate or better a 9-3 campaign in 2009 in which they went 2-1 and took second in league and then advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs.
Long having begun the season with a trio of games against Pacific League opponents, St. Francis will still open with a home game against Arcadia on Sept. 10 before the annual "Battle for Foothill Boulevard" against host Crescenta Valley a week later.
But the third week will see St. Francis welcome City Section heavyweight Venice on Sept. 24 as a long-standing matchup against Burroughs went by the wayside. Though the Indians never defeated the Golden Knights, the game was characterized by a slew of close outcomes. Venice is likely another squad that will push the Golden Knights, as it comes off a 10-2 season a year ago.
"They were always close games, but somehow, some way we pulled them out," said Bonds of the Burroughs rivalry. "Athletically, I think that game [against Venice is] a step up. You know we're gonna have a tough game."