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Rebels football seeks recipe for success in 2012

Football: Flintridge Prep tinkers with game plan to get most out of personnel, as team looks for turnaround.

August 27, 2012|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com
  • Flintridge Prep's Kareem Ismail catches the ball during practice at Flintridge Prep.
Flintridge Prep's Kareem Ismail catches the ball… (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff…)

Coming off one of the worst seasons in program history, which included just one win and the unprecedented cancellation of two games due to an insufficient number of players, the Flintridge Prep football team needed to make some changes.

First and foremost, the Rebels needed more players, and through a concerted effort to recruit on campus, their numbers have grown to 23, up from last year's 18. Fifteen are seniors.

Beyond that, though, Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison saw the need to make some fundamental alterations at the core of the program in shuffling up his coaching staff and overhauling the team's approach to defense and special teams.

The biggest change may be in the defense, where Harrison has installed himself as coordinator.

"I love defense, I played defense in college and that's where I belong," said Harrison, in his third year at the helm of his alma mater.

The Rebels, who open the season at Army Navy in Carlsbad on Sept. 1, will move from last year's 4-4 scheme to a 3-5 set that Harrison hopes will better utilize his personnel. It was an idea born of experimentation last season when the team tried out a 3-5 against Rio Hondo Prep in the first half and was successful in holding the Prep League-champion Kares to a single score for most of the half.

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"With the 3-5, we get a lot more versatility, we can send a lot more pressure and the boys really enjoy it," Harrison said. "I like it with our personnel. We're going to be sending pressure all day."

The new defense is designed to get the most out of the Prep's main strength, its linebacking corps. Senior Dylan Colliflower will anchor the middle along with senior Chadd Cosse, while the weakside outside linebacker is senior Michael Leslie and the weakside inside backer is junior Eric Fung. Senior Stefan Smith will be the last linebacker and will play a hybrid strong safety role, Harrison said.

"We switched defensive mindsets from a 4-4 stack last year to a 3-5 and it's totally unconventional compared to other defenses people have run, but we think it will work really well in our league and in preseason," Colliflower said. "It helps balance plays toward the strengths of our personnel because we have a lot of really talented linebackers, so we want to get as many of them on the field as possible."

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