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Knights looking to finish

With talented lineup, St. Francis feels like a team on the verge of taking next step toward Mission League, CIF glory.

September 09, 2010|By Grant Gordon,
  • St. Francis High's offensive line runs some plays at the school's field in La Canada Flintridge on Wednesday.
St. Francis High's offensive line runs some plays… (Raul Roa, Glendale…)

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — Within the aftermath of the resurrection of the St. Francis High football program that was the 2009 season, it is overwhelming change that, at first glance, appears at the forefront for the Golden Knights going forward.

Gone are a core group of players that include leading tackler and middle linebacker Chris Cabrera, standout lineman David Chirikian, dual-threat quarterback Justin Posthuma and Dietrich Riley, the three-time reigning All-Area Football Player of the Year who was an Under Armour All-American and arguably the most highly-recruited athlete in area chronicle.

In addition, the 2010 schedule awaiting St. Francis is undoubtedly the area's most difficult, featuring the likes of Venice, Cathedral, Chaminade, Harvard-Westlake and, most notably, reigning CIF state champion Gardena Serra. It is a slate that features six different opponents from last year's regular season.

Of course, this is just St. Francis football at first glance.

Upon further review, the Golden Knights, despite significant and high-profile graduations, are a more experienced squad with more returning starters than the previous season's team, and it is a collection of players set on maintaining, if not exceeding, the success of a program that went 9-3 a year ago and advanced to the quarterfinal round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs.


"We are a school of tradition," said senior running back and linebacker Michael Melnick. "We aren't just doing it for the class of 2011.

"It's everything you've got, this is the finish line. How are you going to be remembered? I want to be able to look back at my high school experience and say I gave everything I had every Friday night."

That first Friday night comes tonight, when St. Francis hosts an Arcadia squad it has not lost to since 2007, as the loss in the annual opener against the Apaches began a disappointing 4-6 season for the Golden Knights. Since then, St. Francis improved to 6-5 in 2008 and culminated with last year's impressive 9-3 mark in which a seven-point loss to Alemany prevented it from winning the Mission League title and a first-round playoff win over Gahr was its first postseason victory since 2005.

"Every year we're progressing," Melnick said. "It's really fun to see how much we've grown going 4-6 to 9-3 last year."

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