First published in the Aug. 11 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
In a sense, last year was what some might describe as a “rebuilding” year for Flintridge Prep’s football team. But with a majority of the varsity squad returning with at least one season under their belt, head coach Russell White and the Wolves are ready to be more competitive in the eight-man Prep League.
“The goals are to do better than we did the previous year. Don’t get me wrong, .500 is OK but if we get one more game in the win column, we can walk away knowing it was successful,” White said. “Last year we had a lot of players that hadn’t played before and to pull out a 4-4 season was a great credit to a lot of coaching and the players putting in the effort. This year, the training wheels are coming off so it’s going to take a lot of discipline, heart and just wanting to win.”
In addition to several first-time players, the Wolves were hindered by injuries to some of their upperclassmen, as well. However, White said his players are returning to the field healthy and are expecting great production. For example, junior quarterback Alex Chorba was injured in Flintridge Prep’s first league game at Milken High of Los Angeles last October.
“I expect Chorba to be consistent, lead by example and just be a guy the team can lean on from time to time,” White said. “He wants to win and sometimes that’s half your battle. Everyone knows that about him – he wants to win at all costs and those are good guys to lean on.”
When Chorba was injured, the next man up was senior Jack Jones. White couldn’t confirm a starting quarterback prior to the Outlook Valley Sun’s press deadline, but noted it will be an intense battle between Chorba and Jones, with the pair possibly platooning at certain points in the season.
“Jack Jones stepped in for him. It was his first year ever playing football and he did well,” White said. “Hopefully within two weeks, we’ll have a guy stand out that will lead us into the season.”
Senior Luke Chapman is ready for the spotlight after only playing in three games last year due to a knee injury. White is excited to see what one of his captains can produce on the gridiron during a completely healthy season.
“I am looking for big things out of Luke; he’s been with me for four years and it’s really his time to shine,” White said. “He’s a great leader, he just hasn’t had his time yet and I do believe his time is now. His claim to fame will be at wide receiver.”
Flintridge Prep’s schedule isn’t an easy one, either. As of the Outlook Valley Sun’s press deadline, the Wolves have six games scheduled, including three league matchups. Sage Hill High of Newport Beach is a newcomer to the league, but Flintridge Prep will still have to go up against Windward High of Los Angeles and Chadwick School of Palos Verdes. The season-opener on Friday, Sept. 2, at 6 p.m. against visiting Cate High of Carpinteria is already a tough matchup, as the Rams finished 9-1 last season. The third scheduled game is against Thacher High of Ojai, which defeated Flintridge Prep in a pair of matchups last season, on Thursday, Sept. 22. To end the nonleague portion of the campaign, the Wolves will battle Grace Brethren High of Simi Valley, which finished with an 8-3 record last year.
“This is probably one of the most difficult schedules, based on last year’s performances, that I have ever put together,” White said. “Not only are the kids going to be challenged, but I am challenging myself as a head coach and the staff because we don’t really have any easy games on our schedule as of right now.”