CV possesses an explosive offense, a worrisome defense and a growing list of key players who are getting hurt.
By Brandon HENSLEY
If anything, the Crescenta Valley High School football team looks like it’s going to be exciting to watch – and the season is just beginning.
It certainly was a nail-biter last week, a wild 56-53 victory over the San Marino Titans in which junior quarterback Brian Gadsby was brilliant and Kevin Hello could not be stopped on offense, defense or special teams.
Lest we forget, though, injuries are mounting, which could be a serious problem once the Falcons (2-0) face the Pacific League’s best teams.
This week CV travels to La Cañada High School for its annual showdown with the Spartans (2-0). And for the third consecutive year it will be played in honor of Gordon Warnock, the legendary CVHS coach who passed away in 2010.
The Falcons will have to go at it without junior wide receiver Connor Van Ginkel who suffered a broken collarbone in the San Marino game. Coach Paul Schilling said he’s out at least five weeks. Running back Jonathan Jun had stitches in his right arm but should be okay to play Friday. Linebacker Sean Bloks is nursing sore ribs and is likely to play, but Schilling sounded less definite about him.
Van Ginkel’s injury is another blow to an offense that already lost Kyle Tavizon before the season began (broken arm, out about another five weeks).
“It’s a total bummer, and I feel the most for him as a kid feeling emotional,” Schilling said about Van Ginkel.
But the offense didn’t miss a beat when he left the game. In addition to the heroics of Gadsby (483 yards passing, six touchdowns) and running back Hello (four carries for 73 yards and a touchdown), the Falcons did just enough to get revenge on San Marino, which beat them comfortably last year.
Hello also forced and recovered a fumble on defense and blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown. Basically he was everywhere, and his efforts wore him out, to say the least.
“I couldn’t even explain it in words,” he said. “I was exhausted.”
The 2-0 start is the first for CV since the early 2000s, when assistant coach Hudson Gossard was the quarterback. If the Falcons win this week, they’ll be 3-0 – the last time that happened was (again) when Hudson was quarterback.
To do that, they must improve on defense. They’re giving up 36.5 points a game and have recorded just two sacks. Opponents’ passing attack is killing them right now. Hello said coaches this week have been stressing the need to make tackles.
Schilling said the team’s goal is to not allow a play of more than 25 yards. That didn’t happen last week.
“I think we had six. That’s ridiculous,” he said.
Because Gadsby and his crew are able to score at ease, that means they’re giving the ball back to the opponent more often, which means more time on the field for the defense to either make a play, or give up the big play.
“That’s going to be a challenge for us this year,” Schilling said.
Fortunately for his team, Schilling said La Cañada is a run-heavy team, and that might make for an easier challenge.
“They run the ball most of the time,” he said. “Pound, pound, pound, run, run, run, and then they try to run a play-action and catch us sleeping, so that would be their big-play threat.”
The numbers last week back up Schilling’s assertion. In a 27-20 win over Glendale, Spartans quarterback Robbie Fulling had just 10 pass attempts while the team ran it 43 times with seven different ball carriers.
Say Hello to Kevin
Hello, a senior, hasn’t played on offense since he was a freshman, but he’ll get more time with the ball with Tavizon still out. Jonathan Jun has moved up to the first string running back, but late last week Hello got his opportunity and made the most of it, averaging 18 yards on his four carries.
Combined with his other efforts on defense and special teams, Hello admitted it was the best game he’d ever played.
“I hope it wasn’t just a fluke,” Schilling said. “He’s a great player. He’s always started on defense the last two years, but everything worked [last week]. That was an amazing game.”
Schilling likes the idea of what both Jun and Hello bring to the table.
“JJ [Jun] is shifty and kind of small and strong,” he said. “Kevin’s a very straight, go runner and in that game he was the perfect guy for us because San Marino was just as tired as we were. So all of sudden it’s a different, bigger running back coming into the game who’s lightning fast and runs straight.”
Gadsby Rolling Along
Gadsby’s numbers are outstanding through the first two games: a 61% completion rate, 681 passing yards, 12 touchdowns and no interceptions. One particular play from last week stood out: Down by three points in the second half, he took the snap and rolled to his left. The first option seemed to be a simple check down to a receiver in the flat, but after a few seconds he changed his mind.
He stopped and, with multiple defenders about to reach him, he pulled back and heaved a 55-yard strike to Jordan LoBianco, who caught it in the endzone.
“He’s been doing awesome,” Hello said. “He’s shown a lot of leadership on the field. That’s the most throwing yards I’ve seen in two games. That’s probably more yards than we had all of last year.”
Not quite, but still impressive. CV had just over 1,100 passing yards last year. Gadsby is halfway there after just two starts.
“There’s a lot of interest all of a sudden, you know, everyone’s going crazy; 12 touchdowns and no interceptions is a pretty crazy stat,” Schilling said.
Rivarly? What Rivalry?
It’s probably best the Falcons don’t schedule St. Francis anymore – it’s been over a decade since they’ve beaten the Golden Knights. But the other team from La Cañada is another story. CV has won every game against the Spartans since 2007, and has scored over 30 points in every contest.
Friday’s game concludes the non-league portion of the schedule. CV plays at Pasadena on Sept. 27. The Falcons and Burbank Bulldogs are the only Pacific League teams currently without a loss.