By Eli LOCKE
Under the leadership of first-year head coach Paul Schilling, the CV Falcons varsity football team started the season with high hopes, and high expectations following the previous year’s playoff run. Early on, the program dealt with the loss of legendary former coach Gordon Warnock, who passed away on the verge of the Falcons game against the La Cañada Spartans. The Falcons defeated the Spartans that week in a thriller, 38-34, and held a 4-1 record going into the Muir game.
But the Falcons’ playoff dreams were cut short as they fell to Muir and lost their last five games, all of which were Pacific League contests. The Falcons finished the season with a 4-6 record, winning three of their eight league games. With many seniors on this past year’s varsity roster, the Falcons will look to incoming seniors Nick Ruiz (wide receiver), and quarterback Zak Wilkerson, to lead CV. In their quest for a Pacific League championship, Schilling called this past season a “learning experience” for him, stating that, “We probably should have won one or two more games.”
Falcon fans can expect this coming season to be built around – in addition to several incoming seniors who started this for the last year’s varsity – many new and talented players who will be moved up from the junior varsity team. Returning offensive players include Ruiz, who last year averaged 13.8 yards per catch, Wilkerson, who averaged 66.4 passing yards per game, for a season total of 598 yards and four touchdowns. Other players include running back Marro Lee, who averaged seven yards per carry, Armen Pashai, who plays both offensive and defensive line and who forced a fumble last season and Nathan Sarreal, who started as both an offensive lineman and a linebacker and had a total of 16 tackles and a fumble recovery.
In addition to Sarreal and Pashai, the Falcons’ defense will look to defensive end Bobby Bacerra and defensive back Kevin Cooper to step up in their new role as starters.
In order to prepare for their 2011 season, Schilling is having the Falcons participate in over 60 passing games, including six tournaments, which are a vital part of any team’s development process. The team will also be spending a lot of time with their unusual summer program, which includes field practice such as running through plays and conditioning and a lot of time in the weight room to get the team ready for the road ahead.
The Falcons will again face football power house Saint Francis in the hopes that they can do what no Falcon team has done in the past few years: beat the Golden Knights, a team that last year ranked 116th in the state compared to the Falcons 592nd place.
The Falcons have not beaten the Knights for some time and a victory over them would shine the league spotlight on the Falcons, bringing with it the attention of the entire Pacific League.
In addition to St. Francis, Schilling has called Arcadia the “team to beat” in the league, but stated that Burroughs, Burbank and Muir are always tough teams to beat as well as the “much improved” Pasadena Bulldogs.