Nitros, CV progress in passing tournament

VALENCIA — It was Crescenta Valley High's football team that advanced to the second round of the College of the Canyons Passing Tournament on Wednesday afternoon.

But as it related to the pair of local squads that took part in the tournament, it was Glendale, despite a first-round loss, which walked away satisfied with momentum in hand, while Crescenta Valley was clearly frustrated after a lackluster and lopsided 36-14 loss to Alemany ended its afternoon.

"I'm disappointed in the game, but I'm happy with the tournament," said first-year Falcons Coach Paul Schilling, whose team went 4-2 overall in the three-day format, going 3-1 in pool play before defeating Golden Valley, 26-12, in the opening round of bracket play earlier Wednesday. "This is the first time [this summer] where I feel disappointed in the outcome."

Glendale's day played out in opposite fashion, as the Nitros looked out of sync and outmatched in a first-round 32-14 loss to Palmdale, but rebounded with an impressive 28-10 win over Rosamond that ended the day on a positive note.

"Today we came out a little flat, but we came back and did better," said Nitros two-way starter Linden Anderson, who shined in both games on both sides of the ball. "It's a great learning experience to be able to play in these passing tournaments. It gets us better every time."

One common aspect for both teams was the showcase of their go-to receivers, as Anderson and Crescenta Valley's Nick Ruiz both provided plenty of highlights.

Ruiz caught a pair of touchdowns passes on back-to-back drives against Golden Valley that bookended a Chris Fierro interception — touchdowns were scored as six points with no conversion attempts and interceptions were worth two points.

Ruiz's second scoring pass from quarterback Paul Perugini put the Falcons up 14-6 and they rolled from there, with their defense locking down Golden Valley and Perugini finishing with four touchdowns, his last two going to Bryan Luna and Kevin Fernandez.

Ruiz was lost for the Alemany game when he dinged up his leg, though.

"He is the go-to guy," Schilling said.

Zak Wilkerson took over as quarterback against Alemany as the Falcons continue to look for a starter, with Perugini emerging as the better drop back passer and Wilkerson being the more athletic and versatile back.

"It's a competition," Schilling said. "We don't know [who it's gonna be]. There's not a slam dunk right now."

The Falcons' offense never got going against Alemany, with a slew of dropped passes, red zone stalls and seemingly lackluster play aiding in the Indians, last year's Mission League champions, sprinting out to an 18-0 lead.

Wilkerson would find Fernandez and Nikko Domingo for touchdowns, but CV was limited to underneath passes to drive down the 40-yard field, while Alemany answered both Falcons touchdowns with length-of-the-field touchdowns on the very next play.

Alec Traber added an interception for the Falcons' other two points.

Anderson had an interception for Glendale against Palmdale and also caught a touchdown, as did Alex Maravilla, both from Alex Yoon. Overall, the Nitros couldn't keep up and four Yoon interceptions clearly didn't help.

The second game was far different.

Already holding a 6-0 lead, the game's turning point came when Anderson, who had been held blatantly in man-to-man coverage, was literally taken to the ground, his jersey ripped off. Anderson and the Rosamond cornerback exchanged words, went nose to nose and then got in a shoving match and were pulled apart. A penalty was called on the Rosamond defender and he sat out for a play, but Anderson was held on the very next play, once more drawing a flag, but still broke loose for a 40-yard touchdown.

"I love the physical game," Anderson said. "It brings out the best in me. I think the whole team, too."

While second-year Coach Alan Eberhart was quick to tell Anderson to walk away next time, he was also pleased with his receiver sticking up for himself and the fact that his Nitros followed suit in the physical game.

"We're learning to be physical," Eberhart said. "We're willing to shove back, which is good to see."

Yoon would also find Anthony Platero for a 32-yard score, while Anderson had three touchdowns in the game and Tim Bailey and Julian Rios added interceptions.

Both squads began seven-on-seven play at the tournament they both hosted on May 21-22 and both will play Friday at St. Francis' annual tournament.

"We've progressed," said Eberhart, pointing out Yoon's maturation in taking over as quarterback after Evan Norton was injured during the Glendale tournament and Anderson's potential as a game-breaker. "[Yoon's] making plays. The first game he wasn't.

"Linden's the key, we have a guy we can go to."

For Schilling, while the second and last game of the day was a disappointing, he likes the enthusiasm of a very young Falcons squad.

"This group competes very hard," said Schilling, whose team has now played 29 games in the summer and will end with roughly 50, according to the coach. "They've very inexperienced varsity-wise. Every game we come out fired up, except for this last one."

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