Falcons Hope for Total Team Effort
By Brandon HENSLEY
2012 Season: 19.4 points per game/22.3 points allowed per game/4 touchdowns passes all year/3 different quarterbacks used.
Record: 5-5. Missed CIF playoffs.
Players to watch in 2013: Brian Gadsby, QB/Kevin Hello, RB-DB/Connor Van Ginkle, WR.
Could be possibly interesting: Pavle Atanackovic was a star kicker for Falcon football and won the CIF championship on the soccer team in 2012. He has a brother named Alex. He’s a freshman and he’ll be place kicking for varsity football team this year.
Sorry to disrupt the Falcons’ regularly scheduled programming, but let’s revisit a particularly bad episode that happened last season. You know, for the sake of learning from past mistakes.
It was last Oct. 19 when Crescenta Valley High School football reached one of its lowest points in long time. As the designated road team at Glendale High’s Moyse Field – both schools call the stadium home during the season – the Falcons were the big favorites against the Dynamiters, who were 1-6 at the time.
Despite a seemingly comfortable 17-7 Falcons lead, Glendale gradually made a comeback. With the score 17-13 late in the fourth quarter, Glendale quarterback Kevin Felix pitched the ball behind the line of scrimmage to receiver Michael Davis, which fooled CV into thinking it was a run, but Davis instead found a wide open Martin Marin for a 40-yard touchdown pass, completing the upset and sending Glendale’s fans into a frenzy.
It was the first time the Dynamiters had beaten CV since 2003. It ended any chance the Falcons had of making the playoffs. It was crushing. It was shocking…
“It was devastating,” said CV defensive coordinator Dennis Gossard last month before a practice. “You can’t make as many physical and mental errors in one half as we did. It’s virtually impossible.”
On that night, anything was possible in the wrong sense of the phrase. In the third quarter, CV had a first and goal from the 1-yard line. Several penalties and miscues later, the Falcons faced a fourth-and-goal … from the 32-yard-line.
Gossard said he immediately went home and watched film. Afterward, coaches and players alike knew they messed up and did not perform up to their expectations, even if they were missing star wide receiver Jack Lutynski, who was injured.
“Nobody really talked. It was pretty depressing. That was the worst I’ve seen it,” said Head Coach Paul Schilling, who said the coaches could have yelled at the kids until they were blue in the face, but really, what was the point?
“I think we had 50 mental errors when you looked at the film,” he said.
The Glendale game shined a light on what Schilling called the biggest problems for his team in 2012: not enough offensive consistency and giving too many big plays on defense. Senior linebacker Austin Brines agrees.
“We have to make tackles and keep [teams] from making the 70-yard, 80-yard plays that killed us last year,” he said.
The Falcons head into the 2013 season Friday at Verdugo Hills with a positive outlook, focused on cleaning up mental mistakes that plagued them throughout last year.
They have a new starting quarterback, junior Brian Gadsby. He was called up from the junior varsity for the final two games last season, both victories, and showed enough to the coaches that he could be the guy this time around.
Gadsby is tall and lanky with a big arm, and Schilling said the offense, which didn’t have a consistent identity last year, will be focused on quick passes when Gadsby will be counted on to sling the ball around to a bevy of receivers.
Those receivers include deep threats Chase Walker and Connor Van Ginkle, and slot receivers Ben Rees, who played quarterback last year, and Bostin Lakin.
CV was counting on Kyle Tavizon (532 all-purpose yards, four totals touchdowns in 2012) to do a little bit of everything alongside Gadsby, but he broke his arm in August and is not expected back until at least October. Kevin Hello, one of the fastest guys on the team depending on who you ask, will see a lot of time at defensive back.
The emphasis this year is to have a more up-tempo offense. That means offensive coordinator Hudson Gossard will be on the sidelines rather than up in the booth, signaling specific plays to Gadsby in a more hurried manner, in hopes the defense won’t have time to rest between plays.
“I’m excited for it,” Gadsby said. “I just hope our team remembers all the right stuff. We should be a great team if we do the right things.”
The up-tempo style is reminiscent of the University of Oregon Ducks, who have been known in recent years to spread out their receivers and get to the line of scrimmage quickly to confuse and wear out defenses.
“We’re moving toward that,” Hudson said.
Hudson likes what he saw from Gadsby last season, when he threw for a touchdown and over 200 yards in the season finale against Arcadia.
“What he did in the last game of the season against Arcadia, a sophomore quarterback, I don’t know if that’s ever happened,” he said. “Having him on the field as a leader, I feel confident in him.”
Brines has confidence in Gadsby as well.
“He’s just a competitor,” he said. “I know that every time he goes out there he’s going to do his best. He’s got the ability … I’m excited to see what he can do this year.”
But what if CV’s offense scores too quickly and its defense has to go back out onto the field without getting enough rest?
“If we score, it’s not a concern,” Schilling said.
Brines said he’s not worried either.
“The more points the offense scores the better,” he said. “Our defense, we want to be out on the field. We want to be out there making plays and getting the ball back for our offense. The more points the offense scores, the easier our job is.”
Both the offensive and defensive lines will feature David Hakopian, who was All-League as a sophomore in 2012.
“This year he’s gotten bigger and stronger and it’s no fun going up against him,” said backup quarterback Joe Torres of Hakopian.
The Muir Mustangs won the Pacific League last year with a 7-0 record. Burbank was second at 6-1. Schilling thinks those two are the teams to beat once again. He called Burbank, coached by Hector Valencia, maybe the most well coached team in league.
Arcadia, Hoover and Pasadena all underwent coaching changes, so it will be interesting to see how those programs respond this year. Tavizon’s injury hurts CV, and there’s always the possibility of all the moving parts to the Falcons’ offense won’t click. But those are worries for the future.
“There is that ‘p’ word: potential,” Hudson said. “We have a really solid junior class, with some good seniors. I think it’s not going to come down to talent – I think we have the talent. It will come down to execution and the ability to react and adapt to what teams give us.
“A league [title]? Who knows? A championship season? Who knows? Let’s get to the playoffs first.”