Falcons win CIF to cap perfect season.
By Brandon HENSLEY
It was tough for Hudson Gossard to find words for what just happened last Friday night at Glendale High School. He paused frequently and looked down, then up, then down again.
What could he say? His Falcons were champions at last.
“It’s pretty surreal. The game was like a flash. I still can’t remember things that went on,” said Gossard, the offensive coordinator for the Crescenta Valley High football team. Correction: The CIF Southeast Division champion Crescenta Valley High football team.
The win over Downey was tough, to be sure, and it wasn’t all pretty, but when Gossard’s offense needed to score, it did. Quarterback Brian Gadsby hit Jordan LoBianco with a 22-yard touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone of the first play of the fourth quarter, and that was the difference as CV (14-0, its first ever undefeated season) defeated the Downey Vikings 21-14 to claim the CIF Southern Section Southeast crown.
Gadsby threw for 220 yards, running back Jonathan Jun ran for 100 yards and one touchdown, and Connor Van Ginkel (five catches for 102 yards) made some highlight reel catches after Gadsby had bought just enough time in the pocket.
“We didn’t play our best offensive game,” Gossard said. “But when [Downey] tied the game, we made the plays we had to make to take the lead.”
The game had a little bit of everything. There was lineman BK Kim hiding the ball for a second time this postseason and running for a big gain. There was lineman Davo Hakobyan being an eligible receiver and catching a lateral pass that surprised Downey and ran for a crucial first down.
But most of all there was the defense. Downey quarterback Trevor Hill was held to just four completions and threw an interception to Brandon Beardt in the third quarter. The Falcons still had to contain the great running duo of Daevon Vigilant and senior Justin Huff and, sure enough, both players scored touchdowns.
They couldn’t do anything on the final drive, though. The Falcons missed a 25-yard field goal attempt by Alex Atanockovic with three minutes left in the game and turned the ball over to Downey.
But here came Matt Erickson to save the day. On fourth-and-2 in their own territory, Downey hurried to the line and called a run for Vigilant to the left side. Erickson rushed from the opposite side, broke through the line and made the sprawling stop. The Falcons got the ball back and ran out the clock.
“I knew I was going to make the play,” said Erickson, who battled a left foot injury all night. “I saw the [Downey lineman] pull. I was going for the tackle. It was an amazing feeling coming up after making that play.”
When the clock hit zero, CV students jumped over the railing and headed for the field to mob the new champions.
“I was shocked. It was an amazing feeling seeing everyone come down on the field,” Erickson said. “It was an amazing atmosphere all night long. When that clock hit zero, you know you won and you get to raise that plaque and everything.”
“This wasn’t our goal at first,” said receiver/defensive back Bostin Lakin. “Our goal was to win league and go 10-0. Then we realized we were a pretty good team, so it just escalated to this. We thought we could do it, and we ended up doing this.”
Chase Walker, a sure-handed receiver who caught 10 touchdowns through the first 13 games, came up big in an unusual way in the second quarter. Up 7-0 and at the Viking 2-yard line, Gadsby was moved to receiver and Tyler Hill took the snap. Hill ran up the middle but fumbled on the 1-yard line. The ball bounced into the end zone and Walker picked it up.
“I was going off of a block and I let my guy go,” Walker said. “I look at Ty and he’s got the ball and he hits the 1-yard line. The ball bounces out and I said, ‘Why isn’t anyone picking it up?’ I picked it up and everyone went crazy.”
It was Downey fans that were emotional late in the game for what they felt was a wrong call. Trailing 21-14 in the fourth quarter on fourth down, Hill rolled out to his right and heaved a pass to receiver Stacy Chukwumezie in the back of the end zone. Chukwumezie rolled around before holding the ball up, thinking it was touchdown, but the officials said the ball touched the ground before he established possession. Downey players were visibly upset.
Technically, officials also could have called illegal hands to the face on Downey on the play as well. Erickson’s helmet had come loose on the play because of it. He threw his helmet away as he chased after Hill.
Schilling said Downey Coach Jack Williams didn’t bring up the play later that night when he texted Schilling congratulations.
“It’s so hard to win in any sport a CIF championship,” Schilling said. “So many things have to click into place. And everything did. It’s really big for our program.”
“It had been so long since we made a deep run,” said Gossard. “This to me is just unimaginable that we can call ourselves the CIF champions. We get to put a banner up in our gym. These kids will live as legends for the rest of their lives.”