COVINA — On more than one occasion this season, the Crescenta Valley High football team had atoned for a subpar first half with a second-half bounce back and a win.
Once again, the Falcons showed their Achilles heel on Friday night in a CIF Southern Section Southeast Division quarterfinal playoff contest at Charter Oak, but on this night, there would be no second chances.
The Chargers, the No. 1 seed in the division, coasted to a 40-9 win after scoring more than half of their points in the opening period, sending the Falcons to a season-ending defeat with a 9-3 record.
Neither offense nor defense was reliable for the Falcons in the early stages.
Crescenta Valley managed just one first down in its first three possessions, a span in which Charter Oak (11-0-1) scored quickly and easily every time it touched the ball to build a 21-0 lead in just over six minutes.
“It was definitely the wrong team to get off to a slow start with,” Crescenta Valley Coach Tony Zarrillo said. “They’re very good and they’re ranked where they are for a reason. They have a great combination of size, speed and quickness.
“I was hoping we could get off to a little better start than we did, but we couldn’t and we didn’t. But I liked the way the kids played. All year long, we’ve never not played hard, no matter what the score.”
Charter Oak needed just four plays to score its first three touchdowns. The last of those came on a 25-yard run by Adam Muema with 5:43 left in the first quarter to cap a one-play drive, set up by a Chargers interception of Falcons quarterback Karsen Reedy at the Crescenta Valley 30.
Just over two minutes into the second quarter, Charter Oak drove 57 yards in three plays to take a 28-0 lead on a 45-yard run by Brandon Golden, who led all rushers with 108 yards in 14 carries.
Even when Crescenta Valley did something right, it just couldn’t win.
With 4:30 to go in the first half, Jake Walker sacked Charter Oak quarterback Chris Allen for a seven-yard loss to set up third and 20 at the CV 47. Allen then hit Eric Rogers with a deep ball at the one on the very next play, setting up a short scoring run by Golden for a 34-0 lead.
“Our feeling at the half was keep playing hard and being competitive and we did that,” said Zarrillo, whose team got on the board with a safety off a blocked punt by Matt Zilinsky with 40 seconds remaining in the second quarter to go into the half down, 34-2. “The kids played hard all game long and I was proud of that.”
In the third quarter, Charter Oak milked the clock for just over six minutes with a drive that ended in a missed 44-yard field goal attempt at the 5:49 mark.
Two plays into Crescenta Valley’s ensuing possession, Charter Oak recovered a fumbled snap at the Falcons 16 with 5:33 left and burned another two minutes off the clock before scoring on a six-yard pass from Allen to Brandon Brooks for a 40-2 lead.
Crescenta Valley scored a touchdown on a 99-yard drive that began with 10:14 left in the game.
Reedy, who had 17 carries for 58 yards, ran in the score from 12 yards out with 5:20 to go.
Harry Pessy led the Falcons with 78 rushing yards in 10 carries.
“We finished 9-3,” Zarrillo said. “We exceeded expectations in many ways and I’m glad we got to the second round of the playoffs.”