SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — In competing against live competition for the first time this spring, the members of the Crescenta Valley High football team couldn’t have asked for a better beginning.
With a new coach in Paul Schilling and virtually a new cast of starters, the Falcons marched all the way to the semifinals of the inaugural Spring Passing Classic on Saturday afternoon at Glendale High’s Moyse Field.
Crescenta Valley’s bid to reach the championship contest fell short with a 25-13 loss to Pacific League rival Muir.
“I liked our energy and the way we competed throughout,” Schilling said. “We swarmed to the ball real well and getting to the semis says that we can do pretty well.
“To do this early is something that we can use for the rest of spring practice. That’s going to be a huge advantage for us later on.”
The Falcons finished 5-1 in the 16-team tournament, which began Friday and included St. Francis, Glendale and Hoover. St. Francis went 4-1, while Glendale and Hoover went winless in five games.
Behind quarterback Zac Wilkerson, the Falcons, who qualified for the playoffs last fall, closed out pool-play competition Saturday with a 25-13 win against Sylmar. It then picked up a first-round win against Hoover before pulling off a 32-19 quarterfinal victory against Canyon.
“The Canyon game was a big game for us because they’ve been a Foothill League power for some time,” said Schilling, who praised the efforts turned in by Wilkerson, wide receivers Nick Ruiz, Nikko Domingo and Marro Pena and defenders Bryan Luna, Tyler Martinez and Sean Johnson.
St. Francis rounded out pool play with a 22-13 victory against Golden Valley. The Golden Knights then earned a 22-0 first-round win against Eagle Rock, but saw their day conclude with a 29-24 quarterfinal loss to Hart.
Quarterback Brett Nelson tossed three touchdown passes against Hart, including a pair to wide receiver Travis Talianko.
“We just looked at this week as spring practice,” said St. Francis Coach Jim Bonds, who led the Golden Knights to a playoff appearance last season. “It’s nice to go out there and see other pass coverages and patterns, and I saw a lot of positive things.
“Hart’s a great team and are well coached. We are mirror images of each other. They made some plays that we didn’t. We were able to film both days, so now we can watch the mistakes that we made and go from there.”
Glendale and Hoover are looking to spend the summer making strides in their quest to post winning records next season. The Nitros and Tornadoes were competitive, but still fell short Saturday.
Glendale ended pool-play action with a 33-25 loss to Burroughs before suffering a 27-9 opening-round loss to Arcadia. The Nitros closed out with a 29-15 loss against Sylmar.
“I’m happy with the fact that [the tournament] does get us a head start,” said Glendale second-year Coach Alan Eberhart, who saw quarterback Eric Yoon toss two touchdown passes against Sylmar. “We’ve only had four days of spring ball and this tournament allowed us to see some things early.
“It allows them to see what we are talking about, like what kind of defenses you can see.”
Hoover finished up pool play with a 40-28 loss against Muir. It then fell to Crescenta Valley, 33-10, before wrapping up the competition with a 33-21 defeat against Verdugo Hills.
Quarterback AJ Pule had three touchdown passes against Verdugo Hills.
“We started off good in the tournament,” Hoover third-year Coach Chris Long said. “We played good against Muir and we were decent against CV.
“We got some good games in because we haven’t had much practice time. We were able to get a look at a lot of different people.”
Muir picked up a 33-31 overtime victory against L.A. Marshall to win the championship. In the consolation title contest, Burroughs notched a 33-15 victory against Verdugo Hills.