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St. Francis football looks to get back to winning ways at Culver City

Football: Golden Knights hope to start playoff run, erase losing streak all in one Friday night against Culver City.

November 14, 2013|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
  • St. Francis coach Jim Bonds and his Golden Knights are hoping to bounce back after consecutive losses to end the regular season. St. Francis travels to Culver City on Friday for the first round of the CIF-SS Western Division playoffs. (Tim Berger/File Art)
St. Francis coach Jim Bonds and his Golden Knights are…

For as successful as the duration of the St. Francis High football team’s season has been thus far, at the tip of the Golden Knights’ tongues is still very much a bitter taste left by the last two weeks’ losses.

Thus, when St. Francis travels to play host Culver City at 7 p.m. Friday in the opening round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs, the Golden Knights will not only be looking for postseason triumph, but to bounce back from two weeks’ worth of tribulations.

“Obviously, with those two losses, we have a bad taste in our mouth and we want to get it out with a win,” said St. Francis senior defensive back Kevin Maloof of falling against Gardena Serra (35-21) on Nov. 1 and Chaminade (56-35) in the final week of the regular season.

While the playoffs wouldn’t generally be the ideal setting to bounce back, the Golden Knights enter the postseason confident, hungry and embracing the postseason setting that has become a St. Francis tradition.

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“It’s always fun when you bring up the [junior varsity] guys and we even brought up a freshman,” said Bonds, whose 4-7 squad lost to Lompoc in the first round last season. “It just adds to the excitement and the playoff atmosphere.

“You have to prove yourself all over again.”

In Culver City (6-4), St. Francis (8-2) will take on the Ocean League champion, which has won five consecutive games, all of them coming during league play.

Offensively, Bonds and Co. believe the Centaurs’ most dangerous attribute is their speed.

“Their team speed as a whole is scary,” said Bonds, whose Knights finished third in the Mission League at 3-2 behind champion Serra, the division’s top seed, and Chaminade, the No. 2 seed.

Culver City likes to throw the ball, having thrown 289 passes on the season to 252 carries, with quarterbacks Armani Rodgers (1,289 yards passing, nine touchdowns) and David Handler (1,006 yards, eight touchdowns) splitting time.

Four Centaurs receivers have 200 yards receiving or more with Marcus Moore having hauled in 31 catches for 550 yards and seven touchdowns.

“Everybody has to pursue to the ball and we can’t take any plays off,” Maloof said. “We can’t allow any big plays.”

Rushing-wise, the team has tallied just 1,228 yards as a whole, with Donovan Davis leading the way with 421 yards and four touchdowns in 55 carries.

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