By Michael YEGHIAYAN
With the summer winding to an end, Crescenta Valley’s varsity football team is beginning to look ahead to the start of the regular season. With the first official kick off against Verdugo Hills on the night of September 10 in Tujunga, the remaining summer practices will act as an important test in preparing the Falcons and help assess this year’s team.
The first competitive action will occur on Thursday, September 2 when Monrovia travels to La Crescenta for a preseason scrimmage. However, the first game the Falcons will have circled on the calendar will come two weeks later when they will meet St. Francis at Moyse Field.
“The team always looks ahead to St. Francis. We can always use that game to measure ourselves. If we beat them or play them tough, we know the team is on the right track. If we lose, we know that we need to practice harder.”
The Falcons will look to maintain their intensity the following week when they travel to La Cañada for a meaningful game for a number of the Crescenta Valley seniors.
“This year’s La Cañada game is going to be special to a lot of the guys on this team. We beat them last year, but our seniors are going to remember losing to them during their freshman and sophomore years. I know they’ll really fight hard for a win that game,” said Crescenta Valley head coach Paul Schilling.
This year’s league schedule will put pressure on the Falcons to perform well early in order to have a successful league campaign. The Falcons first league test, a road game against rivals Glendale and former Crescenta Valley head coach Alan Eberhart could set the tone for the rest of league play and have a direct impact on the Falcons’ post-season hopes.
“It’s good for us to go on a roll. A lot of those early games are definitely winnable,” explained Schilling. “However, we can’t get overly confident. We need to keep our focus over the entire season.”
Over the past two weeks, the coaching staff established a clearer picture of this year’s team after a grueling series of two-a-day practices and the introduction of player-to-player contact.
“The two-a-day practices help the coaches really assess our players,” stated Schilling. “We saw a lot from these guys this summer, but we really don’t know what our roster is going to look like until the pads come on and we start the contact drills.”
This year, the Falcons will look to combine a lot of the strategies that brought them past success with a number of subtle changes that Schilling hopes will lead his team to victory in his first season as head coach.
“You’ll see a lot of different things from us offensively. We’ll go to the spread offense at times because we’ve had a lot of success through the air. That’s been our bread and butter in the past. However, we’ll definitely be looking to run the ball more.”
As far as on the defensive side of the ball, coach Schilling looked to keep it simple and direct.
“Defensively, we are going to stay aggressive and physical.”
The key for the Falcons might not come down to offense or defense, but rather the special teams, which has been a point of pride for Crescenta Valley in recent years.
“We focus on special teams a lot,” said Schilling. “If we match up evenly with a team offensively and defensively, we know that we can come out with a win because of our ability on special teams.”
Be it through a strong offensive attack, the ability to stop the football defensively or game changing plays on special teams, the Falcons are slated to put together a strong campaign in 2010.