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Rebels prep for playoffs

Antonio Harrison, Prep's second-year coach, hopes his squad finds a balance and playoff berth in 2011.

September 02, 2011|By Andrew Shortall, andrew.shortall@latimes.com

Flintridge Prep football Coach Antonio Harrison feels a lot more comfortable with his team, and vice versa, coming into the 2011 season, now that he's entering his second year at the helm of the program.

"It's a huge difference from last year, the guys know my expectations for them," Harrison said. "We've all gotten used to each other."

The uncertainty that comes with a new coach is all gone now, said Chris Wirthlin, Prep's primary running back and shutdown corner.

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"We don't really think of him as a new coach anymore," Wirthlin said. "He is our coach now."

Now that introductions are out of the way, Harrison and the Rebels are intent on returning to the playoffs. Prep went 2-6-1 (2-3 in the Prep League) last year and failed to make the postseason for the second season in a row.

"We have only two goals this year: To get better every day and make the playoffs," Harrison said. "Once we make the playoffs it's anybody's game, anything can happen."

Although Prep's record in 2010 left much to be desired, the team feels confident coming into 2011 with a two-game winning streak after winning its last two games of the season against Viewpoint (35-0) and Webb (35-14) last year.

"We have a two-game winning streak," said Lucas Kim, the team's wingback, middle linebacker and emotional leader. "We aren't coming back from a defeated season. Even though we lost the games before that, we were able to find ourselves and win the last two games."

There weren't too many changes in Harrison's inaugural season. He did expand Prep's offense from a wing-T to a shotgun wing-T attack, but kept the team's 4-4 defense, as he is this year. Now that his team has adapted to the shotgun formation, Harrison's evolving the offense further.

Last year, the Rebels only got a taste of Harrison's offense, running just the basic plays out of their shotgun wing-T and power I-formations. Harrison has brought more passing plays into those packages and added two more folds to the offense this year, a Triple-I and a special two-minute offense where the quarterback can call his own plays from the line.

Clayton Weirick, a junior, will take control of Prep's expanded offense from the quarterback position after leading the team's junior varsity squad last year. Weirick impressed Harrison with his play on JV and solidified himself as the varsity starter after putting in plenty of work over the summer.

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