GLENDALE — With longtime Crescenta Valley High coach and Glendale alum Alan Eberhart on the sidelines, much of the 2009 Nitros football season will have a newness to it.
But for the first time in a long time, Glendale will begin its campaign against a new opponent.
Alhambra had long been Glendale’s opposition during the opening week of the season to start a Nitros schedule that rarely changed.
But the Nitros will open up against Cathedral on Sept. 11 to kick off the 2009 season and Eberhart’s tenure.
“My understanding is Alhambra dropped us. I don’t know why,” said Eberhart, who took over the program after Rafik Thorossian stepped down and inherited a schedule that was already set. “We don’t know a lot about [Cathedral]. But they’re always a good, scrappy team.”
Cathedral, out of the Del Rey League, went 8-3 last season.
After that, Glendale, which went 6-4 overall last year, hosts La Cañada and South Pasadena before hosting Arcadia to open up Pacific League play and following with Crescenta Valley. All four games will be played at Glendale’s Moyse Field, as the Nitros have six games at their home field in ’09, with the contest against the Falcons technically a road game.
“It’s new to me, at CV every game is a road game,” said Eberhart of adjusting to a gameday schedule without having to travel. “I look forward to it.”
The Nitros defeated both La Cañada (4-5-1 last year) and South Pas (2-8) a season ago.
Arcadia began last year strong, but its numbers dwindled by season’s end. Eberhart, who briefly assisted the Apaches in the offseason before taking the Nitros job, believes this year’s Arcadia squad will be much improved.
“I know a lot about them,” said Eberhart of the Apaches, who went 4-6 in 2008. “They’re gonna be good.”
Both the South Pas and Arcadia contests fall on Thursdays.
Following the Apaches game will be a showdown with the Falcons, as Crescenta Valley’s homecoming game will see Eberhart coach for the first time against his old squad. It’s a game that’s already building hype, but that’s an aspect Eberhart believes his underdog Nitros must put aside if they’re to have a shot at prevailing.
“The game will be big,” he said. “We’ll have our hands full. I don’t care about the emotions and everything else, [Crescenta Valley is] a good football team.”
A week later on Oct. 16, the Nitros begin a two-game road trip, as they’ll face Burbank at Memorial Field.
A third Thursday game will see the Nitros take on Pasadena at Pasadena City College on Oct. 22, before returning home to face Burroughs on Oct. 30.
“Burroughs is gonna be there,” he said. “Burroughs is a team I have a hard time beating.”
Indeed, Eberhart’s Falcons squads traditionally struggled against the Indians, even in nonleague encounters before they joined the Pacific League three seasons ago.
On Nov. 6, the Nitros will travel to face Muir.
For the most part, the consensus regarding the Pacific League is that just about every team is set to improve, with the possible exception of two-time defending champion Muir (9-2).
But Eberhart isn’t buying into that hype just yet.
“I can’t discount Muir because Kenny Howard does a solid job,” Eberhart said. “I’ve always said that the Pacific League championship goes through Muir.”
Nonetheless, making the Nitros believe they can play with and beat the league’s heavyweights is a top priority on Eberhart’s to-do list.
“You gotta convince them that they can do it,” Eberhart said.
And, as usual, the Nitros wrap up their regular season against archrival Hoover in the annual “Battle for the Victory Bell” on Nov. 13.
The 81st annual meeting will see Glendale go for its third straight rivalry win as Eberhart, who played in the game and coached it at the lower levels, makes his varsity coaching debut in the contest.
The annual “Battle” is normally a jam-packed event, but along with a great many other things, Eberhart’s hoping his team’s ’09 schedule will see a great deal of improved attendance all season long.
“We gotta start with our parents,” said Eberhart, pointing out that at a recent passing tournament, he didn’t see a single parent there to root on the team. “It really concerned me.
“And we’ll do something with the student body.
“Obviously, winning attracts people. We gotta perform.”
After playing in 43 passing league games, according to Eberhart, the next stage for Glendale before kicking off against Cathedral is Aug. 20, when fall practice officially begins. With it will come at least five two-a-day, “Hell Week” practices.
“It’s gonna solidify who’s on our team I think,” Eberhart said.