The Falcons made ESPN’s SportsCenter last week, but now they must turn their attention to finally overcoming the Mustangs on the road.
By Brandon HENSLEY
t’s not supposed to be this easy, right? For the Crescenta Valley High School football team, everything is working the way it should, and then some. The Falcons defeated Hoover High School last week, CV’s homecoming game, easily putting away the Tornadoes 42-7.
The Falcons are still undefeated at 7-0, 4-0 in the Pacific League as they travel to Muir High School on Friday to play the Mustangs. CV hasn’t won at Muir in a decade.
Heading into this one, the Falcons are looking as impressive as they were thought to be before the season started, maybe more so. The big question was whether quarterback Brian Gadsby was going to return or fully commit to baseball. In the summer, he signed with UCLA and, with that out of the way, the senior decided to return to the football team, which had success in 2013 but still missed the playoffs.
“Every team every year always says ‘This year’s the year, this team’s better than last year’s,’” Gadsby said, “and sometimes it’s true, sometimes it’s not. Last year we had a very good team and we do this year, too.”
The Falcons have barely been challenged so far. Yes, they caught a break several weeks ago when they defeated Burbank, which was without running back James Williams, a Washington State commit who is out for the year with a knee injury. That game was won by CV 24-10, the closest any game has been this season.
But break or no break, it looks like this team is on a mission. Crescenta Valley has only scored fewer than 30 points once – the Burbank game – and allowed a team to reach 25 points once. In the last five games, its defense has held four of its opponents to fewer than 20 points.
The Falcons have had defensive studs in recent seasons such as Chad Eggertsen, Kevin Hello and Austin Brines, but this unit is now playing like a fully functioning group. Lineman Davo Hakobyan, linebackers Matt Erickson and Sean Bloks, and defensive backs Jordan LoBianco and Tyler Hill have continued their progressions to the point where CV isn’t just “that really good passing team.” Now, they’re shutting people down.
“We have a great group as we did last year,” said Head Coach Paul Schilling. “The biggest difference this year is the experience from last year and we have stayed healthy.”
Against Hoover (1-6, 0-4 in league), it wasn’t just defense and offense for CV. In fact, it wasn’t much offense at all. LoBianco helped the Falcons’ special teams shine with two punt returns for touchdowns in the first half, one for 50 yards and the other for 69 yards.
Gadsby attempted just 13 passes, and threw for one touchdown. But what a touchdown it was. Moving to his right, Gadsby fired from about 30 yards out to the end zone where big Chase Walker trapped the ball with both hands behind the defender’s back. After rolling around on the ground for a few seconds, Walker came up with the ball for the score.
The Mustangs will undoubtedly be a tougher matchup than the Falcons have had the last few weeks. The Mustangs are also 4-0 in league. They are the defending league champions and CV struggles mightily at their place.
“There is a definite mystique about playing at Muir,” Schilling said. “The last time we beat them at their place was 2004, the same year we last won a league championship. Like this team, that team was experienced … our guys this year are similar in not worrying about the hype. They’re experienced and mature and will be prepared.”
“Muir is a tough team and hasn’t lost a game in league for about three years and it would be great for us to end that streak for them at their own field,” Gadsby said.
After Muir, the Falcons host Pasadena and then play in the season finale at Arcadia. Pasadena is currently 2-2 and Arcadia is 1-3. It was expected that Pasadena (3-4 overall) would be much improved this year, and they are. The team had just one victory all of last season. Still, if the Falcons can get by Muir – and that’s a big if – they have a nice shot at an undefeated regular season. Even if that doesn’t happen, they are all but assured of making the CIF playoffs for the first time since 2011, since the top three teams in league are automatically in. It would take losses in each of the last three games and Burroughs, Burbank and Pasadena to win out for CV to be in danger of that happening.
Gadsby and Walker are Top 10 Worthy
About that Walker touchdown reception last week … to quote Ron Burgundy, it was “kind of a big deal.”
Frank LoBianco, the uncle to Jordan, shoots video for the team, and the family submitted Chase’s catch to ESPN, which went ahead and put it third on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the day for Oct. 18.
Of course, one of ESPN’s anchors referred to Crescenta Valley as “La Crescenta High School,” not an uncommon occurrence when outside media reports on matters involving the school, but that’s a small price to pay for national exposure.
Schilling said Walker texted him with the message, “That is so sickkkkkk coach!”
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity,” Schilling said. “Chase, Brian and the rest of our team will be able to tell their kids and everyone they meet that they were on SportsCenter’s Top 10.”
Gadsby said he and Walker were on their way home from the homecoming dance when they found out.
“We were with all of our buddies. Everyone went crazy and it just made the night even better,” he said.