By Brandon HENSLEY
Photos by Leonard COUTIN
In a move that was as surprising as a warm March day in Southern California, the Crescenta Valley High football program named its new head coach last week, varsity assistant Paul Schilling.
Meaning the new era will look a lot like the old one, which is just fine with Crescenta Valley.
“We have full confidence in Paul,” said CV Principal Linda Evans. “He’s an experienced football coach who knows the heritage of CV football, is well aware of the present and is prepared to move our football program into the future as well.”
Schilling takes over for Tony Zarrillo, who accepted a retirement package from the school district and will leave CVHS in June. Schilling said he had to go through a formal interviewing process, but that “unless they went in a whole new direction, I was the guy to keep everything the same.”
“My motivation to put my name in the hat was to keep our little CV football family together,” he said.
Schilling was the defensive coordinator under Zarrillo in 2009. The Falcons went 8-4, finished third in the Pacific League and made it to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division quarterfinals.
A product of Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Schilling is in his second stint being a Falcons coach.
His first tour at CV started in 1994, and lasted seven seasons, including five of those as head JV coach. But he and his family lived in Santa Clarita at the time, and he took a coaching job at nearby Saugus High School.
Schilling called his time there “a good experience,” but said he jumped at the opportunity to come back to CV in 2003 when then-head Coach Alan Eberhart asked him to return.
“I missed everybody here,” he said. “These were all my friends.”
Schilling just recently made the decision to become a La Crescenta resident, making his drive-time among other things easier on him.
“Two years ago, my wife and I, decided we were going to make the move,” he said. “[We] put our house on the market before it got really ugly, and just went for it.”
Now that he and his family have stability, Schilling is hoping for the same for his program. The coaching staff will remain essentially the same, and Schilling mentioned the luxury of working in an environment surrounded by longtime Falcons mentors, including Zarrillo and Jim Beckenhauer.
“They’re all great influences to have around,” he said.
“I want stability for the kids,” Schilling said. “To me the biggest thing is that they have a good experience …when the kids come back and say, ‘Hey coach, what going on?’ I guess that would be my biggest goal.”
Zarrillo was happy to see Schilling get the job. “It’s a great selection,” he said. “Paul’s a great guy. He is absolutely the right person for this job. It’s his time.”
Zarrillo also echoed Schilling’s stability sentiment. “I think the stability factor is a very important consideration,” he said. “I think in this case the fact that he’s been a part of CV football for so many years…he’s able to keep the staff intact, which I think is important.”