By Brandon HENSLEY
Brian Gadsby completed 22 of his 29 pass attempts last week in a victory over La Cañada. Technically, he completed four more passes than that. The only problem was, those extra passes were caught by Spartan defenders.
Gadsby will try and correct his errant play from last week as the Crescenta Valley High football team (3-0) goes for its fourth consecutive win Friday against Burroughs in the first Pacific League matchup of the seaosn. Game time is set for 7 p.m. at Glendale High School.
In defeating La Cañada, a 35-0 victory that saw CV take a 21-0 lead after one quarter, it wasn’t that Gadsby was bad – although he admitted his poor play on his Twitter account. The senior quarterback threw for two touchdowns and completed 71% of his passes. Those interceptions probably don’t happen if the game was close, so maybe he decided to take some chances that didn’t turn out right this time.
“You can’t put that on anybody but me,” Gadsby said. “They weren’t catchable balls and I wasn’t putting my receivers in position to make the catch. I have to be smarter on when to throw long and when to stick to a shorter route.”
Falcons Coach Paul Schilling has said for two years that Gadsby doesn’t lack for confidence, and that the team is willing to allow him to take risks because the potential reward is so great. Gadsby confirmed as much, but still called his performance unacceptable.
“Personally I love throwing the ball and throwing the ball deep … I know my guys will make the play, but last week when I was throwing it, it wasn’t a good ball and I was playing catch with the other team more than my receivers,” he said.
Last season in his first as a full-time starter, Gadsby threw 33 touchdowns to eight interceptions. So far through three games, he has 12 touchdowns to six interceptions. His other numbers are solid. He’s completing 72% of his passes and is averaging almost 350 passing yards per game.
So there’s no doubt the passing game continues to shine while Gadbsy is under center. The Falcons are built around him and big, talented receivers in Chase Walker and Connor Van Ginkel, so the running game routinely takes a back seat. Main rusher Jonathan Jun had just 10 carries last week for 80 yards. That’s a nice eight-yard average per carry, just don’t expect to see Jun on the sidelines completely gassed in the fourth quarter because his workload is too much. Crescenta Valley is averaging less than 100 yards rushing per game.
In terms of what’s been surprising so far through the non-league portion of the schedule, it has to be the defense. Cornerback Jordan LoBianco showed last year he could be counted on for solid coverage and big plays, and that’s still true for the this year. He has two interceptions and a fumble recovery, and that doesn’t begin to tell the story of how good he’s been.
Linebacker Matt Erickson and lineman Davo Hakobyan were other players people knew about going into this season, but still, the numbers are impressive considering how the defense played in 2013 and how many good players CV lost. Kevin Hello, Austin Brines and Juho Kim were all key players, now gone, but this year everyone has picked it up a notch.
Erickson is a beast out there, whether he’s breaking through the line and stopping the runner for a loss or batting down balls from the opposing quarterback.
“He knows that he’s a senior on the varsity defense and he’s gotta take charge and that’s what he’s doing,” Gadsby said. “I think the first game he had 17 tackles. That’s not an average game right there. That’s a big time game.”
Sean Bloks and Tyler Hill are also players that are seemingly in on every key play. The Falcons are averaging three sacks per game. The defensive line isn’t getting to the quarterback maybe as much as it wants to, but the unit as a whole gets stops when they have to.
Then again, it could be the relative ease of the schedule. Last season, San Marino was a non-league opponent and, though CV beat them, the Titans put up 53 points. This year CV played Golden Valley, a program not as strong as San Marino, and won by 23 points. Both Verdugo Hills and La Cañada were clearly overmatched against CV as well. It’s been obvious by halftime. Gadsby could have thrown five more interceptions and the Spartans still would have been shutout last week.
The Pacific League is where the true competition lies. The Falcons were good last year. They had trouble stopping Muir and Burbank (they split those games) and took care of the rest … except for Burroughs. The Indians gave the Falcons their first defeat when they overcame a 17-3 deficit in the second half. Gadsby couldn’t connect with his receivers, and Burroughs took advantage of great field position in the fourth quarter to come away with a 20-17 win.
Crescenta Valley gets its shot at revenge this week.
“Everyone’s looking at that game as motivation to beat these guys … we think we’re the better team, just like they think they’re the better team, so we know we have to come out hard,” Gadsby said.
The Indians are 2-1. They lost 53-31 to Calabasas to open the season, but won their next games 45-17 and 33-21. Using mainly rushers Chance Bell and Hunter Guerin, the Indians have gained over 600 yards on the ground and have scored 10 rushing touchdowns.
“They’re a pretty high-powered offense,” Gadsby said. “We have a good defense. In my opinion I think it’ll be a good game but our offense tends to score a good amount of points, so I think we’ll do a good job of putting points of the board and our defense will keep points off the board.”