By Brandon HENSLEY
Tonight marks not only the beginning of a new season for the Crescenta Valley High football team, but
also a new era. Cole Doyle will take the field as the team’s starting quarterback when the Falcons host the Verdugo Hills Dons at Glendale High’s Moyse Field at 7 p.m.
Of course, new eras are common in high school. The years go by quickly, and then it’s time for someone else. There was the dominance of Brian Gadsby in 2013 and 2015, and then Tyler Hill moved to QB last season, ready to become a pivotal two-way player for the program. Hill should be fine, expected by his coaches to continue his All-CIF play on defense at the safety position. If and when he does get snaps this year as QB, he’ll most likely take the ball and run, an intimidating sight for tacklers (he recorded two games of 100 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns in 2015).
But now it’s Doyle’s turn.
The sophomore might not make much of an impression with his size – he’s listed at a slender 5’8” – but he and Head Coach Paul Schilling believe his experience and attitude will benefit a team looking to build off a 7-3 record and a first-round playoff loss.
“I just want to go in and do my job. If I do my job and everyone else does their job, that’s how you win games,” Doyle said.
Doyle was on the freshman team late last season when Schilling told his father that he was going to be called up. Starter Evan Nelson was wracked with injuries and Schilling wanted another player to complement Hill.
Doyle started the season finale against rival Arcadia, a must-win game for CV. He wasn’t spectacular, though he didn’t need to be. What he did do was get the job done. His connection to Will Rees that went for a 52-yard touchdown was the difference in the game.
“It was definitely a big jump playing with freshman guys to playing with varsity guys, with seniors, but the coaches have confidence in my skill, my ability,” Doyle said. “If they have confidence in me, that makes me have confidence in myself.”
Just play my game, he told himself, and “I’ll be fine.” He had to learn assistant coach Hudson Gossard’s playbook in three days that week. But it worked out last fall, and Schilling hoped it will work out this fall.
As reported this summer, Schilling said he was excited about Doyle’s arm strength and mental makeup.
“He’s a dual threat. He’s fast, he can run,” Schilling said in July. “He’s got great composure. He’s not a normal CV sophomore. He’s been playing tackle football for a while.”
Those tackle football teams include the Burbank Vikings and the travel organization Football University, both of them giving Doyle the opportunity to hone his craft as a quarterback while growing up.
It won’t just be all on Doyle. The Falcons have a talented core of receivers to catch the ball. Will Rees, Andrew Traber, Brandon Beardt, Tyler LoBianco and tight end Max Meyer will all be counted on to move the chains. Two years ago, the combination of Connor Van Ginkel, Jordan LoBianco and Chase Walker helped fuel the offense and bring CV its first CIF championship in over four decades. If these receivers can be anywhere near that productive, fans and parents will have a lot to cheer about.
The team is also excited in its offensive line, consisting of experience and hulking boys who will be expected to protect Doyle all game long. Names like Riley Center, Destin Jordan, Mike Alvarez and Tommy Chun might not receive recognition on every big play this season, but they’ll be at the forefront of all the good things the offense experiences.
“We already knew we were going to have dominant receivers. One thing that we’re all excited about was our offensive line. They’re huge,” Doyle said. “They’re just really smart. They’ve mastered the position and they know what they’re doing.”
Doyle said he isn’t uncom-fortable with whatever expectations are being placed on him. It’s a unique position for someone like him to be in, a sophomore taking charge of the varsity offense. But he’s been made to feel welcome by his peers.
Now, it’s just a matter of going out on the field and producing. Hudson’s playbook may as well have been attached to Doyle’s hip this summer. It’s time to see what he can do.
“I know our offense very well. I’ve studied it a lot,” Doyle said. “I’ve gone over it a million times with Coach Hud. I know my reads and what to expect on the defensive side. I feel pretty confident I’ll make the right plays.”
UP NEXT SEASON OPENER
Who: Verdugo Hill
When: Tonight, Thursday at 7 p.m.
Where: Moyse Field, Glendale High