First published in the Nov. 4 print issue of the Pasadena Outlook.
After a hard-fought battle which ended with Flintridge Prep’s varsity 8-man football team losing to Palos Verdes Chadwick, 37-31, the seniors hugged and cried with their families and friends on the gridiron they have called home for the past four years.
The Wolves ended the regular season with a 4-3 overall record and 1-2 in the 8-man Prep League. Despite the loss, they earned a berth in the CIF-SS Division 1 8-man playoffs at unbeaten Thacher School (7-0) in Ojai this Saturday, Nov. 6, at 1 p.m.
“We actually played very well. Before this game, we hadn’t scored in six quarters so we posted 31 and there’s some good things we got out of this,” said Russell White, Prep’s head coach. “I feel it was a great season for a team who was really put together. A lot of these kids never played football before and to do the things we did and getting a bid to go to the playoffs, I have nothing but great respect for them.”
Despite the Wolves accumulating 23 first downs, the close game saw six lead changes — two in the first quarter, three in the third and one in the final quarter.
Nearly midway into the third quarter, Flintridge Prep junior quarterback Jack Jones connected with senior Christian Baydaline for a 31-yard touchdown, giving the Wolves a 19-14 lead.
But Chadwick responded with a scoring drive of its own and a successful two-point conversion to make it 22-19 with 2:05 remaining.
Jones completed 13 for 25 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns. He also added 16 yards on the ground.
Meanwhile, Baydaline had three receptions for 51 yards and caught two of Jones’ touchdown passes. He also added one tackle on defense.
Following the touchdown, sophomore Noah Willingham’s long kickoff return positioned the Wolves for their final scoring drive of the third quarter. With 53 seconds remaining, Jones found junior Luke Chapman for a seven-yard touchdown to give the Wolves their last lead of the game, 25-22.
Willingham rushed for 63 yards on 14 carries and caught one pass for four yards. Defensively, he had two tackles and one fumble recovery.
Chapman also did well with three receptions for 24 yards and one touchdown. On the other end of the ball, he added two tackles.
The Wolves held Chadwick scoreless in the second quarter as they began to chip away at a 14-7 deficit.
Jones tossed a 21-yard touchdown dart to the arms of junior Nnamdi Nwaenia but a missed two-point conversion kept the Wolves behind, 14-13, at the end of the first half.
Nwaenia finished with five receptions for a team-high 120 yards and one touchdown. He also added one tackle on defense.
“Jack Jones, he placed the balls like right where I needed them and it worked out perfectly,” Nwaenia said. “I’m just trying to win. I wanted that W so bad but we played a good game.”
Willingham and Baydaline scored kept the game close with second-half touchdowns, the latter was a 13-yard scoring play to trim the deficit to 37-31 with 51 seconds remaining before Chadwick ran out the clock on its last possession.
Prep’s defensive standout was senior Nicholas Gonzalez, who recorded a team-high six solo tackles and two assists in his final regular season game.
Junior Griffin Theis and sophomore Kevin Zhang each added four solo tackles and one sack while senior Alec Gharibian had three tackles and two sacks. Sophomore Alex Chorba and freshman John Battaglia both added one tackle.