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Time will tell for St. Francis

Football: Golden Knights seniors look to go out leading their team to success in league, CIF.

September 07, 2011|By Grant Gordon, grant.gordon@latimes.com
(Tim Berger/Staff…)

LA CAÑADA FLINTRIDGE — When asked about the magnitude of the upcoming 2011 season, St. Francis High senior Ryan McAleenan doesn't hesitate with an answer.

"This is the year we're gonna remember," said McAleenan, a three-year starter at linebacker for the Golden Knights. "This is the year we're gonna live with for the rest of our lives."

It's clearly not a novel concept in the realm of high school football for there to be that innate, added incentive during a player's senior campaign. But for these Golden Knights, it's a common thread that runs through for 20 senior starters led by five three-year lettermen.

They appear to be a group rife with chemistry and desire to rebound from a disappointing 2010 campaign and recount a memorable 2009 run.

"I feel like we have a different attitude," said right tackle Kristion Grbavac, who joins McAleenan, receiver Travis Talianko, offensive lineman Joe Marrone and linebacker Luke Anderson for their third and final seasons starting at St. Francis. "People just want to win. That's on everyone's mind, people are buying into it.

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"It kind of feels like my sophomore year. We have that chemistry."

During Grbavac and his fellow three-season starters' sophomore season, the Golden Knights finished second in the Mission League, advanced to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Western Division playoffs and went 9-3 behind the play and leadership of the likes of Dietrich Riley, Justin Posthuma and Chris Cabrera. St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, like many of his players, see some similarities between the two teams and, particularly, the seniors that define them.

"I've seen some positive signs that point to a positive season," Bonds said. "I feel like football is very important to this group of kids, the group of seniors, in particular. It's something they have in common with Dietrich Riley and Justin Posthuma and Chris Cabrera. … I feel like this year they're buying into what we're doing as coaches and believing in one another."

Last year, St. Francis finished 6-5 in a season marked by a four-game losing slide that, along with the team's season-ending loss to Dominguez in the first round of the playoffs, featured losses against the top four teams in the division.

"It was really frustrating," MacAleenan said. "I don't think we played to our potential all the time."

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