SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — The game was over, the players had finished shaking hands, but the final, and possibly best, story line of Friday’s Pacific League game between the Crescenta Valley and Glendale football teams had yet to be written.
Packed with emotions after facing and defeating their last coach, Alan Eberhart, the first-year coach of the Nitros, the Falcons let their former mentor know how they felt about him with an impromptu display of gratitude.
More than a dozen Falcons walked up to Eberhart near the middle of the field to hug him and thank him for leading them on the field and mentoring them throughout their years at Crescenta Valley.
“[That meant] everything to me,” said Eberhart, as his former players raced to one end zone while his current ones went to the other after a 56-14 Crescenta Valley victory.
“I love those [Falcon] kids. I love my kids here too.”
During the game, the Falcons (3-2, 1-0 in league) put on a clinic in front of their former coach.
Crescenta Valley dominated the offensive and defensive lines and was simply too fast, too deep and too strong for the Nitros (1-4, 0-2).
On its first drive, Crescenta Valley used four plays and four rushers to gain 76 yards in just less than two minutes. Dai Dai McFadden capped the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run, the first of his three first-half scores, with the others coming on a 37-yard reception from quarterback Kyle Cota and a six-yard run.
“They were too good,” said Eberhart, who guided the Falcons to five Pacific League championships during the better part of 14 seasons before he stepped down in 2006. “You’re dealing with really skilled guys. They smothered us.”
The Falcons were relentless in the first half.
They scored on five of their six possessions, as Mike Bako had a 44-yard touchdown reception, and Harry Pessy added a 28-yard catch for a score.
Crescenta Valley’s other first-half touchdown came when the Nitros seemed like they were ready to rally.
After Glendale quarterback Moises Chavez hit Dillon Fuller for a seven-yard scoring strike, Tanner Hamilton took the ensuing kickoff 99 yards down the sideline for a score and a 21-7 Falcon lead.
“We had a lot more skill and a lot more size,” Hamilton said.
It showed in the second half, as well.
On the opening possession of the second half, Glendale was forced to punt after going three and out, and Hamilton capitalized once more.
Hamilton took the Glendale punt 45 yards for a score as Crescenta Valley continued its rout.
Glendale fumbled on the 50 on its next possession, and Crescenta Valley added its final score minutes later.
Pessy scored his second touchdown with an eight-yard run with five minutes left in the third quarter.
“We have a lot of bigger guys on our team,” Pessy said.
Pessy and the Falcons were ready to redeem themselves after last week’s 28-point league loss to Burbank.
“We were able to score [Friday] because we came off a big loss and we were ready,” McFadden said. “This game was about pride and getting our pride back.”
It was also about the return of Eberhart.
Said Eberhart: “I’m glad [the game is] over.”