Prep football completes 'incredible' turnaround

Football: Smith, Kozacik lead Prep to 40-13 win, first playoff berth since '08.

October 27, 2012|By Grant Gordon,

CLAREMONT — Perhaps it was the postgame reaction of the Flintridge Prep football team on a sunny afternoon in Claremont that best signified just how far the Rebels have come in the span of just one year.

Having hardly played their best, the Rebels were disappointed in the performance that added up to a dominant 40-13 victory over host Webb in their Prep League finale, but were still rejoicing in the history achieved with the triumph.

Indeed, Prep has come a long way from a 2011 squad that had just one win, forfeited two games, went winless in league and would've gladly taken a victory of any sort. Now, the 2012 team finds itself in a position to critique a lopsided win over a struggling Webb (1-7, 0-3 in league), as it improved to 5-4 to finish the regular season above .500 for the first time since 2007, while most importantly achieving a 3-1 league mark that assured Prep a second-place league finish and a return to the playoffs for the first time since 2008.


"It's bittersweet. We had a poor performance today. We came out flat. I think they did overlook Webb, which we told them all week not to do," said Rebels Coach Antonio Harrison, whose team has now won four of its last five and rebounded from an Oct. 19 loss to first-place Rio Hondo Prep. "It's sweet because we're back in the playoffs. It's another milestone this team has accomplished."

It's also the first time Harrison has coached a team into the postseason in his third year at the Rebels helm.

"I'm thankful for that, I'm happy for the kids, we have at least one more game to play," said Harrison, whose team has a bye next week and awaits the CIF Southern Section Northeast Division playoff pairings on Nov. 4. "Once playoffs start, you never know what can happen."

What happened at the start of Saturday's game was disturbing for Prep, as Webb, which has been defeated by double-digits seven weeks in a row, played the Rebels to a 0-0 tie at the end of the first quarter.

But, buoyed by big days from running backs Stephan Smith and Kurt Kozacik, the Rebels raced to 28 second-quarter points to begin the rout.

Smith, also a defensive back, had two interceptions, including one that he returned 60 yards for a touchdown, and 12 carries for 156 yards and touchdowns of 18, 53 and eight yards.

"Stephan's a big-time player and he makes big-time plays," Harrison said.

Kozacik rushed 20 times for a game-high 188 yards and a score, in the process eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark rushing on the season, according to Harrison.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles