Despite crushing Arcadia last week and going 8-2, CV football misses the playoffs and will have to say goodbye to season that ended too soon.
By Brandon HENSLEY
2013 Season Record: 8-2, tied for second in the Pacific League
Playoffs: Surprisingly, no.
Best moment: An overtime win over previously undefeated Burbank in the homecoming game.
Worst moment: A week before when they blew a 17-0 lead to Burroughs and suffered their first loss.
Key departures: Kevin Hello, Austin Brines, Juho Kim, Ben Rees.
Key returners: Brian Gadsby, Chase Walker, Connor Van Ginkel, Jordan LoBianco, Kyle Tavizon.
By now, you’ve probably heard: it was “passover” last weekend for the Crescenta Valley High School football team. Players, coaches and fans are probably still trying to figure out just how the CIF Southern Section could leave the Falcons out of the playoffs after finishing a season that will be remembered for some time.
The fact is, the Falcons won eight of their 10 games, and beat high quality opponents in San Marino and Burbank. Quarterback Brian Gadsby and a slew of other talented players will almost surely garner All-Pacific League votes when those selections are announced within the next couple of weeks.
But the fact also is the system that is set up to determine if CV would get into the playoffs can’t be changed just because one team doesn’t like how it got the results. So, based on coin flips and a point system when determining at-large bids, the CIF took a 5-5 West Covina team from the Hacienda League over the Falcons for this week’s first round game against Norwalk.
“I couldn’t believe the injustice,” said Head Coach Paul Schilling, recalling his thoughts the first minute he heard the news.
Now, a few days later, he’s able to look at the season as a whole and appreciate what his team did. Still, he said this Falcons team had potential had it been chosen for the postseason.
“We could have done something in the playoffs,” he said. “We weren’t just going to happy to be there.”
The season started off well enough at Verdugo Hills High School when Gadsby threw six touchdowns passes in a dominant victory. The next week CV got revenge on San Marino from last year in a wild 56-53 home win. The Falcons were also able to keep Glendale down, 27-7, a year after suffering a loss to the Dynamiters for the first time since 2003.
The biggest win for the program in a long time came in mid-October on homecoming weekend when the Falcons won an overtime game against Burbank 48-47 after Gadsby completed a two-point conversion to Chase Walker, setting off hysteria at Glendale High School’s Moyse Field.
The low point was the week before when CV, 4-0 at the time, traveled to Burroughs and stymied the Indians for three quarters. But the Falcons blew a 17-0 second-half lead, most of the damage coming in the fourth quarter, when Gadsby couldn’t find his receivers and the Indians took advantage of great field position and won 24-17.
Schilling said the hardest part in missing the playoffs was not letting the seniors take part in it. He mentioned players like Christen Castaneda, Joe Torres and Juho Kim who became solid leaders on and off the field.
“These guys were awesome at leadership,” he said. “They were okay with whatever their role was and led by example.”
What went right: When discussing this team, it starts with the passing game. Two years ago a very athletic Zac Wilkerson was quarterback, but he relied too much on his legs to make something happen. The Falcons were a so-so playoff team that lost in the first round. Last year, they used three different quarterbacks and that didn’t pan out for a variety of reasons (an overrated offensive line, not enough weapons at receiver, injuries).
This year, though – what a turnaround. Gadsby was on fire for most of the season, throwing 33 touchdowns to eight interceptions while completing 60% of his passes. The offensive line did its job, as Gadsby was rarely under pressure, although his ability to move around in the pocket had something to do with that.
The running game was solid. Jonathan Jun and Kevin Hello were a great combination once the coaching staff started calling more plays for Hello. It certainly beat last year’s strategy of giving the ball to William Wang all game and tiring him out.
What went wrong: Guys simply couldn’t stay healthy. There’s no doubt that Chase Walker and Jordan LoBianco deserve to be recognized with awards for how they played wide receiver, but Connor Van Ginkel might be the best receiver in the Pacific League. The only problem is he missed half the season with a collarbone injury.
Ben Rees, Kyle Tavizon, Weston Walker and Bostin Lakin also played huge parts in CV’s success, but each one missed time this year as well. To beat a team like Muir, which has too many athletes for a depleted team to compete with, everyone needs to be at least healthy enough to play. If CV avoids injury, the outstanding returners – Gadsby, both Walker brothers, Van Ginkel – should have the Falcons fighting for a league title come next November.
How They Missed the Playoffs
It’s been a week, but if you’re still wondering how CV isn’t playing this weekend, here’s the deal: Muir was first place in league, and that meant Burbank, Burroughs and CV were left to fight for the next two places that guaranteed a playoff spot. Seeing as how all three posted the same league record, there was a coin flip, and CV lost, meaning they were the fourth-place team. So the only way for the Falcons to get in was if the CIF took them as an at-large bid.
Problem is, only one at-large team can go from CV’s division – the Southeast Division – and the CIF instead took West Covina, which won five games all year. But why? The CIF used a point system and West Covina won 3-1 over the Falcons. CV got one point for a better record, and WC got one for playing in what officials believed was a better league (the Hacienda League).
What put WC over the top was the combined record of its opponents, 55-45, compared to 52-48 for the Falcons. That was worth two points. What makes the system frustrating if you’re a Falcon fan is that had CV lost three more games, that would have bumped up its opponents’ combined record, which would have equaled West Covina’s opponents’ record.
“It’s not the people involved, where they screwed us or anything,” Schilling said. “It’s the system they used. They followed the format they had, it’s just a weird format.”