Paul Schilling and Hudson Gossard had an extensive conversation several weeks ago.
It centered mostly around the idea of Gossard possibly succeeding Schilling as head coach of the Crescenta Valley High football team. Schilling and Gossard ultimately arrived at the same conclusion — that the time would be right now.
That transition became official Thursday, when Schilling stepped down after nine seasons at the helm.
He will be replaced by Gossard, an offensive coordinator under Schilling and former standout quarterback who threw for more than 3,500 yards as a senior at Crescenta Valley.
Schilling, who led Crescenta Valley to the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division championship in 2014, went 69-26 overall and 43-21 in the Pacific League with the Falcons. Schilling, who finished with a .726 winning percentage, also led the Falcons to league titles in 2014 and 2016.
“Hudson and I talked about that and some other things and we just wanted to make sure it would be the right fit and time for him to take over,” said Schilling, an English teach at CV who will now serve as head coach of the school’s freshman team and help coordinate the lower-level programs. “I think he can continue to build the program and keep the tradition going and he was a great player here. So, it’s the right decision and move.
“We approached the school administration and talked to them about it. It all worked out well in the end. I think he’ll do a great job and I love coaching freshmen football because there’s that passion I have for it.”
Gossard, who passed for 3,542 yards, 32 touchdowns and a 68.4% completion ratio during the 2001 season, had been an assistant the past 11 seasons.
Becoming the next Crescenta Valley head coach is something Gossard doesn’t take lightly.
“It definitely means a lot and it’s something that’s very special and dear to me,” said Gossard, a former All-Area Football Player of the Year who is a math teacher at the school. “It’s just extremely cool and I’ve learned a lot from so many of the head coaches and assistants who have come through CV.
“Paul thought so highly of me and is confident I can continue to keep the program moving in the right direction. It’s a transition for me, but one that’s not that big. I’m excited, but nervous.”
Schilling became head coach in March of 2010 after taking over for Tony Zarrillo. Schilling originally joined the Falcons football program as a junior varsity head coach in 1994. He held the position for five seasons before becoming defensive backs coach for the varsity squad the next two seasons.
Schilling spent two seasons as a varsity special teams coordinator and defensive backs coach at Saugus High before returning in 2003 to begin another run at Crescenta Valley. In addition, Schilling served as freshman and junior varsity head coach and was the varsity defensive coordinator under Zarrillo.
Crescenta Valley registered seven winning seasons during Schilling’s tenure. The Falcons reached the playoffs six times, including the last five seasons.
Crescenta Valley won the CIF title in 2014 following a 21-14 win against Downey at Moyse Field. Crescenta Valley went 14-0 en route to winning the program’s first title since 1973.
“We had so many great players on both sides of the ball who stepped up and contributed,” Schilling said. “We were just trying to get through the first-round game against Harvard-Westlake. After we did that, everything just fell into place.
“That’s a season that I won’t forget.”
Gossard takes over a squad that went 8-3, 5-2 in league for third place behind Arcadia and Burbank in 2018. Crescenta Valley suffered a 52-47 road defeat against Warren in the first round of the Division VII playoffs.
“Coach Schilling gave me a vote of confidence and he believes I can take the program to the next level,” Gossard said. “We’ll basically keep the coaching staff in tact and they can help me out a lot.”
Crescenta Valley athletic director Dave Mendoza said Schilling was able to elevate the program.
“He came in and kept the ball rolling,” Mendoza said. “He produced some great players and they would go on to get all-league and All-CIF recognition.