By MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS
Rafu Sports Editor
“Last year was really tough,” Kyle Hamane said of Flintridge Prep’s 2011 season, when they suffered a record of one win against eight losses, including a forfeit.
“I wasn’t going to play this year, but I couldn’t leave my teammates like that. So I’m back this year and we’re doing pretty well,” he was happy to report.
Hamane, the junior running back who also stars on the Rebels’ varsity basketball team, took a break during the Oct. 18 team practice to put the current season into context.
“A lot of why I play is for my friends, really, so we all have the chance to share the experience together,” explained Hamane, 17, who assumes a variety of roles for Prep on the field. Mostly a running back, he plays safety for the special teams unit and is occasionally used as a tackle on the defensive side of the ball.
With his left ankle in a brace (he suffered a mild twist on the basketball court over the summer), Hamane explained the different mind set necessary to make the transition from hard court to gridiron.
“In basketball, it’s constant playing, constant movement. In football, an average play lasts about 12 seconds, so you need to be very focused for that short burst of action,” he said.
To say the Rebels have turned it around this year would be true in just about every sense of the term. They’ve left the struggles of last year behind and are 2-0 in the Prep League, 4-3 overall. They pulled off a 13-point upset of Pasadena Poly last week, for their third straight win. In their three defeats, the margin of victory has averaged under four points.
Last Friday, Flintridge faced its toughest opponent thus far this season, when they hosted 6-1 Rio Hondo Prep, the defending CIF Southern Section Northeast Division champs. And while Prep lost the game, 48-12, the improvement they are showing as a team extends far beyond a single game.
Hamane said part of his job as an upperclassman is to help keep his team focused, to take on one challenge at a time, much in the way his older brother, Kory, did when the Rebels won the CIF Southern Section Div. 5AA title in 2011.
“I’m still a junior, but some of these guys still look at me as they’re learning, so I’d better do well,” he said.