By Brandon HENSLEY
Coached by a wealth of knowledge and experience from the Crescenta Valley High School football program – correction: the CIF champion CV football program – the Rosemont Middle School flag football team controlled almost every aspect of its season opening game last week against Roosevelt. The Spartans ruled the time of possession, intercepted Roosevelt twice on defense, and led for three quarters.
They still lost, 7-6.
Sometimes all it takes is one play late in the game to change everything, and the RoughRiders’ punt return touchdown down the sideline propelled them to a home victory to kick off the 2015 middle school season. Rosemont quarterback Chase Center connected with Tyler Carlson for the only offensive touchdown, and Jason Watson and Max Blessinger each had interceptions. It wasn’t enough.
“We have to practice more on special teams. That’s the bottom line,” said Rosemont Coach Ryan Dahlstrom. “All the guys, I’m really proud of them. They did an excellent job. When you think about it, basically on offense and defense we had no trouble.”
Maybe the special teams coverage will be better today when Rosemont plays at Toll Middle School at 3:30 p.m., and maybe the Spartans will rebound from its first loss and have a successful season. That’s a tough call because of the quick turnover for a two-year middle school like Rosemont. The talent you have will be gone soon.
But that’s what Dahlstrom is actually excited about. Most of the kids who continue to play football will do so at Crescenta Valley, and the more they learn and the better they get at this level will only benefit Coach Paul Schilling’s Falcons program.
When previous Rosemont Coach Jim Mustain could no longer commit to the team, Schilling talked to Dahlstrom, an assistant CV coach at the lower levels, and pushed for him to take over. Dahlstrom accepted and, like Mustain in the past, made sure to bring some key Falcons varsity players over to help assist him.
“He’s doing great. Honestly, he’s putting in the time and effort to make this team great,” said CV senior Davo Hakobyan, an All-CIF lineman who oversees the Spartans’ offense and defensive lines.
There’s also Tyler Hill, an All-CIF defensive back who coaches defense, running back and quarterbacks (Hill played quarterback for Rosemont two years ago and went undefeated). Rounding out the coaching staff are CV players Will Rees and Andrew Van Ginkel.
Leading young people isn’t new to Dahlstrom. He currently works as a young adults pastor for Montrose Church and is heavily involved in the church’s Young Life group. Dahlstrom worked with Falcons varsity offensive coordinator Hudson Gossard during the CIF playoffs. Gossard said Dahlstrom’s work with Young Life shows because he does a great job of interacting with the kids.
“It’s a tough dynamic trying to coach these kids because he needs to stay organized and disciplined but at the same time make sure they are coming out and having fun,” Gossard said. “He does a great job with that.”
Hakobyan said he’s used to playing for coaches who are mean on the field, ones that likes to yell and get in your face. Dahlstrom goes the other way. He told his assistants to be patient with the kids, and Hakobyan was “enlightened” to learn there’s a different way to motivate players.
“He’s a really cool guy. He always has a smile on his face. He’s always positive,” Hakobyan said.
Dahlstrom has incorporated an offense that will get players ready for the high school level. The schemes and language are all what Crescenta Valley uses. Since running the ball up the middle is not allowed in flag football, rushing plays involve sweeps, and passing plays give the quarterback options to choose from based on what he sees from the defense.
“He’s really knowledgeable about the game and it was really cool seeing some of the different offensive plays he created for the team to run,” Gossard said. “I was surprised at how well the kids knew the different plays and could remember all of them.”
“I do like winning,” Dahlstrom said, “but to me, [it’s enough] to know that I’ll be able to have an impact upon the [Falcons] teams to come, knowing that these guys are eventually going to be the Brian Gadsbys, the Tyler Hills and just to know at some point I taught them how to do a three-step drop as a quarterback, how to receive a handoff, or how to run a cover three or cover two.”
Schedule for Rosemont Flag Football
Jan. 29 @ Toll
Feb. 5 vs. Wilson
Feb. 12 vs. Toll
Feb. 19 vs. Roosevelt
Feb. 26 @ Wilson