By Maddy PUMILIA
The Falcon football team met at Angeles National Golf Club last Thursday to honor each player, thank coaches, reward scholarships and remember the season played and relationships formed.
The team went 6-5 overall and 4-3 in Pacific League games. The team made it into the Southeast Division playoffs as the fourth seed in the Pacific League. It was an improvement on last season when the team went on a losing streak and missed the playoffs.
“Last year, a lot of people said we would [put heart and time into it], but we never did,” senior Nathan Sarreal said. “I guess this year we said it and actually did it.”
Coach Paul Schilling reflected back in his second season as head coach. He was a varsity assistant previously.
“Last year was my first year in this role, so I was learning,” Schilling said. “I learned a lot since last year.”
The team lost to La Mirada High School in the first round of the playoffs with a score of 35-30. The team had a chance to win the game if they had recovered the onside kick.
Burroughs, Arcadia, Pasadena and Muir High School from the Pacific League also entered the playoff hunt. All four teams were eliminated. Muir, who came in as the lowest seed, made it farther than all the other teams. Muir lost in the final four to La Serna High School. La Serna now faces West Covina to decide the winner of the Southeast Division.
CV beat Muir High School 27-20 in October. Schilling said it was his favorite game.
“I love the game against Muir,” said wide receiver Nick Ruiz, who caught an interception to end the game. “The Muir game was definitely one of the high points of the season … I think the victory against Muir was pretty awesome.”
Sarreal said his favorite memory was blocking a field goal in the Muir game. “I’ve never done that before. It was a good experience. It’s our last year. Good way to go out,” he added.
Many players are graduating including quarterback Zac Wilkerson, Ruiz, tight end Justin Springfield, running back Marro Lee and Sarreal. At the banquet, some seniors were rewarded with scholarships. Almost $3,000 in scholarships was given. The scholarships were named after previous members of the Falcon community who were known for positive qualities like leadership, spirit and sacrifice, playing with passion and enthusiasm and having talent on and off the field.
The Danny Morales memorial scholarship was given to Justin Springfield and Kevin Cooper. Springfield also was given the Gordon Warnock/CLIF (Character Leadership Integrity Faith) Scholarship, which is worth $1,000. Springfield is attending Pacific Union College in Northern California next year. He is studying to be a nurse practitioner.
Cooper also was awarded the John Barbaro Scholarship. Sarreal won the Pat Kennelly Award. Armen Pashai received the Leon Panduro Award. The award includes $250 in scholarship money. Finally, Noah Stubblefield was awarded the Nicholas Steinbacher Award, worth $250.
Twenty-six players on this year’s team will return next year. In addition, the freshman team was successful, so some of those players may move up to varsity.
“The relationships we have with people are what I’m going to miss the most,” Ruiz said. “I love the game and the practices and all that, but the relationships – never again will you have this many guys, brothers, family, friends who you love so much. They’re so close to you. Never again will you have that, so I think that’s what I’m going to miss the most.”
“Definitely my teammates and coaches,” Lee said. “I’ve built such a great bond with them. You’re just with them all the time. Tough practices. You all just go through it together. I’ll miss the camaraderie. They’re like my brothers.
“[The coaches are] our leaders,” Lee added. “They’re the people who encourage you. A lot of tough love. They’re trying to help you grow, but they won’t give you a break. They won’t settle for anything less than you can give them and that was something I really appreciated. You’re not going to get very far if you don’t try your hardest. Work for what you want.”
“I love all my teammates and coaches,” Sarreal said.
“We played together as a family,” Springfield said. “It really meant a lot to me.” He said his favorite memory was the practices: “The games I love, too, but just being there with the brothers, the team itself, made me feel good. Kept me going.”
“All the little things besides the game; the guys just cheering and having fun, us playing together, talking as a group,” Schilling said was his favorite moment. “That stuff is just awesome.”
The team overcame a lot. In Week 2, the Falcons lost to St. Francis 35-0, but the team came back the next week, beating La Cañada, 35-14.
“When things weren’t going our way, we learned to bounce back,” Lee said. “I think we have trouble sometimes when we’re down that really affected us. As the year progressed, we really improved and we know how to hang in there with each other and just keep playing and be proud of how you play and how you finish games.”