NORTHEST GLENDALE — Winning isn't necessarily everything, especially if the games are no-contact in the early part of summer with the regular season still nearly four months in the distance.
So for the Crescenta Valley High football team, losing in the quarterfinals of its own passing league tournament can't come close to dampening what the squad was trying to accomplish during its games at the passing-only tournament.
"I was more interested in seeing what kind of competitors they will be," said Falcons first-year Coach Tony Zarillo of his team, which finished Saturday with a 22-8 loss to Franklin in the quarterfinal game of the Crescenta Valley Passing Classic at the Glendale Sports Complex. "I wanted to see if they would compete."
Compete the Falcons did as they held their own against 15 other teams from the greater Los Angeles area taking part in the tournament.
The day's festivities were broken into two parts. The first being a round-robin format with each team playing seven games. The teams were thenseeded, based on their seven-game record, and placed into the single-elimination part of the tournament.
The Falcons were the fifth seed from their division after going 4-3 in the opening games.
After cruising past Alhambra 22-10, in round one of tournament play, Crescenta Valley was pitted against Franklin.
Despite trailing 6-0, the Falcons evened the score on a touchdown pass from quarterback Scott Thompson and then took the lead on Franklin's next possession by intercepting a pass — good for two points — to go up 8-6.
However, a back-breaking sequence ensued with the Panthers intercepting a pass in the endzone, connecting for a touchdown on the ensuing play and then intercepting the Falcons' first play of the next possession to go up 16-8.
"In this type of format, you have to work to try to avoid that," Zarillo said.
Franklin was able to add one more touchdown to secure a spot in the semifinals and end the Falcons' afternoon.
Thompson finished the game only four of 16 passing, but was much sharper a game earlier against Alhambra.
In that game, the senior — one of three potential candidates vying for playing time at the position, including Karsen Reedey — finished 10 of 16 with three touchdown tosses as the Falcons came back from an early 10-6 deficit.
"He is a great field general" said Zarillo of Thompson, who was the starting quarterback on the JV squad last season. "He is very good in the huddle as far as leadership goes."
Defensively, the Falcons received an unexpected boost from Clay Sierra.
Sierra, who stars on the basketball team, joined the football team just two weeks earlier and is already making an impression. Using his size to his advantage, the safety finished the day with three interceptions, including two as Alhambra attempted to fight back to even the score.
"He is very athletic, I am very pleased he is choosing to play football," Zarillo said.
Zarillo inherits a program that suffered through a 2-8 season in which they took fifth in the Pacific League and failed to make the CIF playoffs. Crescenta Valley last won a league title in 2004 but subsequently lost in the opening round of the postseason.
And whilesummer is just in its earlier stages and with plenty of time before the season starts, Zarillo doesn't expect his team to be perfect quite yet. But that is allright with him for the time being.
"We made some mistakes, but I'd rather be making these mistakes in June than in September or November," he said.