CV football wouldn’t be the same without coaches Dennis and Hudson Gossard who are trying to recapture the success the program had when Hudson played.
By Brandon HENSLEY
Let’s be honest. Purely as a football school, Crescenta Valley High does not regularly match up with some of the powerhouses of the Southland: Oaks Christian, Mater Dei, and even nearby St. Francis, which hasn’t lost to CV since 2001.
So isn’t it a little cool that a Falcon quarterback from not too long ago was featured several times on TV for his personal success as well as the team’s?
That player was Hudson Gossard, and it was the fall of 2001. Hudson was a senior at Crescenta Valley, wrapping up a terrific two-year career as a varsity starter when NBC’s Fred Rogan featured him on his telecast, and Fox Sports West spotlighted him on “Inside High School Sports.”
“It was cool, but at the same time I’m kind of shy in that way, so it was awkward to have the camera there,” he said. “But it was great for our program because CV doesn’t get much coverage on anything anyways, so from that perspective it was cool.”
Hudson might have been reserved around the media, but he was not that way around his teammates every Friday night back then. The Falcons were an unqualified success, taking the Pacific League in both his junior and senior year, and winning the first round of the playoffs both years as well.
As a senior, Hudson passed for 3,542 yards, throwing 32 touchdowns against six interceptions. He completed 68.4 of his passes and was league MVP. Hudson’s tenure was at the tail end of a period when the Falcons won league four out of five years. They have not been able to replicate that success in over a decade since.
“In his two years when he played varsity, the team won more games in two years than any team in the history of the school. That’s over 50 years,” said Hudson’s father Dennis, a longtime Falcon assistant coach.
If CV is to be anywhere near as good as those teams were this year, Hudson will have a lot to do with it. He’s now in his sixth year as an assistant coach, teaching kids these days how to play the game the way he was taught not too long ago.
That also means he’s a colleague of his dad’s.
“For me, it’s the greatest deal in the world. It’s couldn’t be any better,” Dennis said.
But it wasn’t like this was planned from the start. As good as Hudson was, his size – barely 5-feet-10, well under 200 pounds – didn’t make him a hot commodity for colleges.
“There was some opportunity but it fell through, and I was okay with that. I don’t want to say I overachieved, but I felt like my high school career was a good way to end it,” he said.
He went to Arizona State University and hoped to work in sports management, “like work for a baseball team or in the front office for a team.”
But he ended up in an office job and wasn’t digging it, so Dennis suggested he come back to CV and start teaching and possibly coach as well. Today, not only is Hudson a coach, but he’s also three years into teaching geometry and P.E.
“I couldn’t be happier. I love it,” he said. He coaches and teaches the same way he played football.
“That’s one of the first things I tell my students in the classroom,” he said. “I say, ‘Guys, I kind of teach like I coach. So I’m kind of loud with hand movements.’ But I think they like that. I think I bring some energy to it. I guess in both situations you have to be patient. You have all different types of kids, you have to be patient. You have to learn to adapt with the different types of kids you get.”
Perhaps the pressure of what he went through as a junior prepared him for a job like this. Under Head Coach Alan Eberhart, Dennis was the offensive coordinator, and the team was about to start the season with Hudson as the main guy. There was talk that he fell into the job because of Dennis’ position.
“There was pressure for him to do well right away because he was the coach’s kid,” said Paul Schilling, an assistant back then and currently the team’s head coach.
“There was a lot of pressure on both of us,” agreed Dennis. “Here he is, a starting quarterback as a junior. Is he starting because his dad’s the offensive coordinator? Can he get the job done?”
The first game of Hudson’s varsity career was against Thousand Oaks and highly touted quarterback Ben Olson, who went on to play at UCLA. Dennis said he remembered Hudson’s first play on offense was a screen pass that went for 50 yards. The Falcons went on to win. The next week they upset St. Francis.
“He shut that talk down,” Schilling said.
“Winning takes care of a lot of things,” Dennis said. “We were winning, so what could you say? Now if he was throwing two or three interceptions, I’m sure we would have heard about it.”
Hudson said he remembered hearing a little bit that year in the locker room about the pressures of starting, but he didn’t let it get to him. You deal with it, he said, and you move on.
These days, Hudson handles the offense while Dennis does the defense. To Schilling, both of their roles are much needed. Schilling was handling the defense during his first year as head coach in 2010, and having his hands full with other duties was making life difficult.
“I was dying. I was in a bad mood all the time. I was frustrated,” he said.
By handing more responsibility to other coaches now it takes the pressure off, and Schilling knows he can trust them. After all, Dennis is a CV football lifer. He was part of the third ever graduating class in 1965 and was an assistant for Gordy Warnock when the team won the 1973 CIF championship.
“I bet there’s not another coach in high school that does as much as him … he has so much pride in this place,” Schilling said.
This year’s starting quarterback Brian Gadsby is glad to have Hudson to learn from. Hudson’s age, 30, helps him relate to the guys.
“When it’s time to get serious, he lets you know, but he also likes to have a lot of fun in practice,” Gadsby said.
When others are in the weight room, Gadsby is practicing footwork and jumping rope with Hudson. He said Hudson’s been helpful in showing him how to make better reads and have a better pocket presence.
Gadsby is a junior, the same year Hudson was when he started his two-year run. Who knows if history will repeat itself, but Hudson is appreciative of being able to come back to CV and be supported by not only his father, but other important Falcon figures like former principal Ken Biermann and former athletic director Jim Beckenhauer.
“They’ve been mentors to me, which has been helpful,” Hudson said. “It helps carry that tradition, because they’ve obviously built it, and you just try and continue it.”