LA CRESCENTA — Auditions have begun in earnest for those looking to grab a spot on the Crescenta Valley High football team in the fall.
That's one of the many purposes designed for spring football, which saw the Falcons begin their sessions May 10.
Under first-year Coach Paul Schilling, the Falcons will largely be a different cast from the one that finished 8-4 and 5-2 in the Pacific League for second place last year.
Players are ready and willing to step up, something Schilling noted.
"I like the energy that they have displayed thus far in spring ball," said Schilling, who succeeded Tony Zarrillo, who left his post after leading the Falcons to the second round of the CIF Southern Section Southeast Division for the second season in a row. "That's a good thing because we are trying to find the right personnel.
"We are going to be a relatively young team and we don't have a lot of returners. It's not going to be a rebuilding year. Rather, we are trying to reload."
The Falcons lost more than 30 players to graduation, including All-Area standouts Kyle Cota at quarterback and running back Harry Pessy.
With spring ball scheduled to end June 11, there's still enough time for Schilling, who recently served as the team's defensive coordinator under Zarrillo, to find the right offensive and defensive combinations.
"I think we should be pretty solid defensively, so that should be one of our main strengths," said Schilling, whose team will kick off its season at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 with an intersectional road game against Verdugo Hills. "I think we should have a good defensive line and we should be good on the offensive line.
"We are also going to be in a lot of passing leagues, so that will help our group be able to compete that much more in certain situations."
The Falcons fared well in their first passing league, reaching the semifinals of the inaugural Spring Passing Classic on Saturday at Glendale High. The Falcons finished 5-1.
"They will all have the opportunity to get in there and compete right away," said Schilling, whose squad will begin league play at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 against host Glendale. "We'll spend a lot of time breaking down film from the passing leagues and we want to see great efforts.
"We've been working hard [at spring practice] on coverage and passing patterns."
On offense, the Falcons will likely turn to junior quarterback Zac Wilkerson. Wilkerson enjoyed a splendid run at the passing league over the weekend.
"I've been working on throwing the deep ball," said Wilkerson, who will split time with senior Paul Perigini at quarterback throughout the rest of spring. "Everything has been good so far with spring.
"We are just going to look to get better on offense and defense so that we will be ready for the season."