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Knights look to stay on top

St. Francis faces its greatest test of the season in the form of a road game against Serra.

October 20, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk and Andrew Shortall, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com and andrew.shortall@latimes.com

St. Francis at Gardena Serra, 7 p.m. Friday: The upcoming stretch of games could make or break the Golden Knights as far as the Mission League is concerned, as the next three will all be against ranked opponents in the CIF Southern Section Western Division.

They will have to get it all done on the road, as well, with Friday's 23-20 win over Harvard-Westlake to open league being the last time the Golden Knights (6-0, 1-0 in league) will see Friedman Field until the regular-season finale against Cathedral on Nov. 11.

The gauntlet begins with a Serra squad that won the Mission League and Western Division championship last season and enters ranked fourth in this season's most recent poll, one spot behind St. Francis.

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And while the Cavaliers are still a highly-regarded team, they have graduated some of their most potent weapons form last season in running back George Farmer and receiver Marquise Lee, both now at USC.

This year, Serra (4-2, 1-0), which is coming off a 40-0 league win over Cathedral, is led by quarterback Jalen Greene, who has a deep mix of backs and wideouts to distribute the ball to.

"They're athletic, but they're not the same football team as last year," said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, whose team was handed its worst loss of the season last season by Serra, 41-14. "I like our chances, this team has showed a lot of character in our early games this season."

St. Francis is led by transfer quarterback Jared Lebowitz, who is coming off a game in which he recorded over 300 yards of total offense and was voted player of the week for his team. The Golden Knights defense has been very effective, as the 20 points it allowed to the Wolverines was as many as it had surrendered in its previous four combined.

"We've got to, obviously, execute our game plan going down there, contain their speed and play a little bit better offensively," Bonds said.

Viewpoint at Flintridge Prep at La Cañada High, 7 p.m. Saturday: The Rebels have spent a large part of this season off the field, as Prep has forfeited two games so far this year, due to an already thin roster being decimated by injuries.

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