Many high school football teams are well into their summer program.
At St. Francis High, the Golden Knights are just getting things started.
“We’re only in our second week of summer ball,” coach Jim Bonds said Friday. “We take two weeks off after school ends. Our first day was June 20.”
But that doesn’t mean the Golden Knights are behind schedule. St. Francis is once again expected to be competitive with some of the top teams in Southern California after finishing 6-5 last season out of the tough Mission League.
The Golden Knights have spent lots of time recently next door at La Canada High as new turf is being installed on Friedman Field.
“La Canada High has been very gracious to let us on their field at 6 a.m.,” Bonds said. “A lot of our coaches teach summer school and a lot of our kids take summer school, so we have 90 minutes to get everything in. It has been a little challenging in that respect, but I do like where we’re at.”
Bonds says he has seen quick progress in the time the team has been back.
“We went over to Muir on June 21, our second day of summer, and it was obvious that we had some rust coming back from spring football,” Bonds said. “Then we went to College of the Canyons for the Hart Tournament on Monday and Wednesday and we’re getting better every time out. Our defense was really solid on Wednesday. We’re real happy with how they are coming along. We’ve got a lot to work on, but we’re making progress.”
Bonds is counting on junior Jared Lebowitz, a transfer from Vermont, to take over the controls of the offense.
“He started as freshman and sophomore,” Bonds said Lebowitz. “He’s a talented kid. He’s been making all the throws we’ve been asking him to make.”
Because the 6-foot-3 Lebowitz has the ability to throw the ball, Bonds plans to do just that.
“Over the years we’ve been pretty multi-formation oriented. We’ve pretty much settled in to a spread formation with four wide receivers and a single back,” Bonds said. “It is really based on our personnel. Sometimes you’re not going to have that quarterback that can drop back and throw it 25 to 30 times a game.”
Bonds played quarterback at Hart High in Newhall, which has a tradition of producing stars at that position including current NFL signal callers Kyle Boller and Matt Moore.
“Coming from that school, we like to air it out,” Bonds said. “If we have a guy like that, we’re going to want to advance it in the air.”
This season Bonds is armed with a group of players can do things with the ball once Lebowitz releases it.
‘Our top receiver the last two years is back,” Bonds said of 6-foot-1 Travis Talianko, an All-CIF selection last year. “He’s getting some attention from some colleges.”
Talianko had 59 receptions for 946 yards and 17 touchdowns last season.
He is not alone.
Christian Hess, at 6-foot-2, is another big target.
“He might be our best deep threat,” Bonds said. “He’s got some wheels.”
Parker Nieves should be a slot receiver. He offers different characteristics.
“He started at corner for us last year and he was second-team All-CIF,” Bonds said. “He’s a great athlete that we have to get the ball to.”
Kristion Grbavac, Joe Marrone and Zack George return as starters to the offensive line.
“Kristion will be our anchor as our center,” Bonds said. “He’s going to be a three-year starter.”
With still lots of time get ready for Sept. 9 when the Golden Knights open at Arcadia, Bonds is pleased with what he has seen.
“The quarterback is running the offense more and more every time out,” He said. “The receivers and quarterback are getting to know each other better.”