They end season on right note by beating rival Arcadia. Gadsby is strong at quarterback.
By Brandon HENSLEY
This much can be said about the Crescenta Valley High football team: at least it cleans up nicely.
The Falcons traveled to Arcadia last week, their last bus ride of the season, and controlled every aspect of the game against the Apaches. They passed (a lot), they ran, they tackled; they did pretty much whatever they wanted in a 23-7 victory that was a solid way to end a season full of frustration.
The Falcons ended the year on a two-game winning streak and finished 5-5 overall. They were 3-4 in the Pacific League, good for fifth place. CV had a chance to knock Arcadia out of the playoffs, but even in defeat, the Apaches made the postseason by virtue of Burroughs’ loss to Burbank. That meant Arcadia (4-6, 4-3 in league) stayed in the top three in league, a guaranteed playoff spot.
Still, to beat their most hated rival the last week of the season?
“We were super excited to come here,” said senior receiver Jack Lutynski. “I had a feeling we were going to come here and kick some butt. I did. I had that feeling.”
Sophomore quarterback Brian Gadsby got the call to start for the second game in a row, and what a difference a week made. Against Hoover on Oct. 26, Gadsby passed only four times. Against Arcadia, he threw it 36 times, and completed 21 of his attempts for 216 yards.
“I was thinking coming in to the game it was going to be like last week – four or five passes and give the ball to [running back William] Wang,” said Gadsby. “But then there were quite a few passes, and I started getting comfortable.”
He was on his game early, completing his first six passes. While he did have two interceptions and no touchdown throws, he rushed for a score in the second quarter.
Gadsby admitted to being frustrated for a few seconds after the interceptions, but “then I get to the sideline, and drink some water and calm down and realize I can’t be on the sideline the whole time and think about it. I have to get back on the field and make some more passes.”
The amount of attempts by Gadsby was a startling development to anyone who has seen every CV game this year. The Falcons relied heavily on Wang all season, and then started using the Wildcat formation by having receiver Kyle Tavizon take snaps.
But Gadsby looked comfortable in the pocket all night. He hit Lutynski and Porter Hansen with regularity (the short out-routes to Hansen were especially effective). Lutynski had six catches for 77 yards and Hansen caught eight balls for 94 yards.
“He’s a gamer,” said CV Coach Paul Schilling of Gadsby, who is a pitcher for the baseball team as well. “He’s been that guy since he was little kid. He’s been that guy in Little League to come in and close the game out with that long, skinny arm of his.”
Running the ball wasn’t a problem for CV last week either. Wang had 119 yards and in the fourth quarter Tavizon controlled the clock by gaining first downs out of the Wildcat. Tavizon ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The Falcon defense was stout. The only score it gave up was a bit of a wild 75-yard play. In the second quarter Arcadia quarterback Zachary Lee completed a pass to receiver Darius Elliot, who caught it and ran until he was hit at the CV 15-yard line and fumbled. Elliot’s teammate Mark Pachorek picked up the loose ball and ran in for a touchdown.
That put Arcadia up 7-0, but they didn’t do any damage after that. CV’s pressure was solid and defenders were seemingly on top of every receiver after each catch.
Schilling got a Gatorade bath (or cold water; either way, he got wet) as time expired. He embraced it with a yell and a display of happy emotion. Afterward, Lutynski said he wasn’t upset this was his final game as a Falcon, and that he looked forward to possibly playing in junior college.
“Everyone’s saying a lot of I love yous, a lot of, ‘It was an honor playing with you,’” he said. “It was fun. A good group of guys.”
Season in Review
While it seems odd to have the Falcons stay home even though they won one more game than playoff-bound Arcadia, such is the reality because the team’s league performance wasn’t good enough. The Falcons were 3-4 in league, and it easily could have been 4-3 if not for the terrible night of Oct. 19 when they lost to underdog Glendale for the first time in nine years.
“If we beat Glendale, now we’re in a three-way tie for third with Arcadia and Burroughs,” said Schilling, in a moment of too little, too late.
The Falcons were up 17-7 at the half and in control of that game, but allowed the Nitros to come back and win 20-17. CV generated virtually no offense at all in the second half, highlighting a season-long problem: moving the ball in pressure situations.
The defense was: good, not great. The Falcons allowed the third least amount of points in league. They averaged 2.6 sacks a game (Johnny Psaltis led the team with 6.5 sacks) and forced 13 turnovers. Senior Paul Gamez will be missed next year (88 tackles, most on the team) and senior Chad Eggertson and junior Kevin Hello did an above average job as defensive backs.
They also gave up too many big plays. They were fooled on a fake reverse touchdown pass to Glendale (which was the game-winner) and before that they let Burbank run wild on them in the second half after they had cut the deficit to 26-21.
The running game was: mostly effective. Wang started the year off with a bang, rushing for 260 yards against Santa Paula in Week 1. He finished with over 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns. When defenses geared their schemes to stop him, it worked because the passing game struggled almost every week, so CV became one-dimensional. Schilling and his staff tried to remedy this by having Tavizon take snaps in the Wildcat the last month of the season. Tavizon scored three times, and CV went 2-2 in those games.
The passing game was: hard to explain. Juniors Ben Rees and Joe Torres shared time to start the season. Both were inconsistent in moving the ball down the field. The bright side? They showed their athleticism in escaping pressure, and neither threw an interception in a combined 123 attempts.
But to show how much CV lacked an aerial attack, Lutynski missed three games due to a knee injury, and he still came out the leading receiver in catches and touchdowns.
Lutynski had 26 catches for 397 yards with three touchdowns. The only other passing touchdown all year went to Tavizon, against Burroughs on Oct. 4. CV was 5-2 when Lutynski played, and 0-3 without him.
“We didn’t have Jack. He’s the big play,” said Schilling.
Key departures: Jack Lutynski (WR), Chad Eggertson (DB), Paul Gamez (Dline), Porter Hansen (WR), Forest Graves (FB), Johnny Psaltis (DB).
Players to watch next year: Brian Gadsby (QB), Kevin Hello (DB), Kyle Tavizon (WR/RB), Connor Van Ginkel (RB), Chase Walker (WR).