Tale of Two Quarterbacks Reads Well

Rees and Torres share equal time and lead Falcons over Spartans in Gordy’s Game.

By Brandon HENSLEY

It was the best of times in the first half last Friday at Glendale High, and it never really got worse in the second half as the Crescenta Valley Falcons’ football team beat up La Cañada 48-21 for its second win of the season.

The win came in the annual memorial game to late CV coach Gordon Wornock, called “Gordy’s Game” for the man who led the program to the 1972 CIF title. Wornock passed away in 2010.

It was CV’s best-played game so far, one in which junior quarterbacks Ben Rees and Joe Torres showed their potential, the defense was mostly stifling, and the special teams helped out with a punt return touchdown as well.

“We had a good week of practice. We took this week seriously,” said Rees, referring to the disappointing loss the week before to San Marino when several players said practice that week was not up to standards.

Both quarterbacks shared equal playing time, with Rees playing the first half and Torres the second.

“Neither one has gone above and beyond the other one,” said head coach Paul Schilling. “They both performed well. So instead of going in every two series, we tried to go a half … they’re so similar.”

Rees was sharp, completing five of nine passes for 105 yards and a touchdown. His strike to receiver Jack Lutynski in the second quarter gave the Falcons a 28-7 lead.

The party started well before that. Running back William Wang, who put together a quietly spectacular game with 158 yards rushing and three touchdowns, ran for an 80-yard score on CV’s second drive of the game. Chad Eggertson’s 59-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third quarter made it 34-14 and put the game out of reach.

Lutynski, the other main target on offense, had four catches for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Torres came on the second and held his own. He was three-for-eight passing for 67 yards, and completed his first pass that went for 38 yards.

“[We’re] both getting better every week,” said Rees. “I’m proud of Joe for what he did tonight. He stepped up.”

So, at least for a night, the half-and-half experiment paid off as CV improved their record to 2-1.

“They knew before the game that Ben was going to play the first half and Joe would play the second,” Schilling said. “We’ve pre-decided each game and we’ve been able to stay with that. Maybe we’ll have a game where one guy’s got the hot hand and we’re going to go with him, but it really hasn’t happened where the one guy’s done poorly, or the other one’s done exceptional.”

La Cañada (1-2) has a new coach – James Sims has replaced Dan Yoder – and a new system to implement, and early on it was mostly a running attack, which did not work against the Falcon defense. The Spartans amassed only 80 yards in the first half.  Quarterback Matt Jones passed more as his team fell behind, but down 41-14 in the third quarter, he threw an interception to Austin Brines, and was replaced by Robbie Fuelling.

Assessing the First Three Games
Both Rees and Torres showed much more openness to target receivers not named Lutynski last Friday. In the season’s first two games, the quarterbacks’ eyes had trouble diverting from Lutysnki, which resulted in a predictable passing attack. The offense was more versatile against the Spartans, even if not every pass was completed. Fullback Forest Graves and running back Tavizon – each scored once – were also instrumental in the La Cañada game.

The Falcons at least know how to protect the ball. They’ve committed just one turnover in three games, a credit to Rees and Torres not getting carried away and forcing bad throws, and the sure arms of running back Wang.

The defense was shaky against Santa Paula, but except for two blown plays the last two games (a 70-yard TD run by San Marino QB Matt Wofford and a wide-open TD reception in blown coverage last week), the unit has mostly done a good job.

CV has forced seven turnovers in three games.

Up Next: Muir
The Pacific League schedule finally kicks off Friday against the Muir Mustangs at Muir High School at 7 p.m. The Mustangs are 0-3, but don’t be fooled. They’ve lost badly in each game to Upland, Alemany and Rancho Cucamonga, but those teams (“three monsters,” as Schilling called them) are a combined 10-2 so far.

CV has lost its last three times at Muir, last beating the Mustangs on the road in 2004.